Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday to you

Today is your seventh birthday! And as your author this has given me pause for thought. When I started you and proposed that you would be “charting my progress” it was, of course, impossible to imagine where I would be today. And yet at the same time as I re-read various posts it is not completely surprising that I am here doing what I am doing.

You have been a constant and faithful companion along my journey. The opportunity that your always listening ear, and your remarkable memory give me have, I am sure, been more beneficial than I care to admit. I have found your silent support and total acceptance of whatever I need to say both comforting and rewarding.

Then there are your friends – the other blogs that you hang about with – and their authors, who while not exactly friends have become important voices with welcome and oftentimes uncannily accurate observations and comments. Thank you for introducing me to them!

As your author I take a lot of credit for your existence however I must also congratulate the a-n.co.uk team without whom you could not exist.

So without any more fuss, or danger of this becoming a rambling acceptance speech, I want to say a very heart felt thank you!

… Happy birthday dear ‘Project Me’,

Happy birthday to you!


I have lost my sense of time. Days and particularly weeks are not making any sense to me. This is most likely the result of the ‘sudden’ change in my routine. Most of my weekdays are now spent at Mejan rather than being divided up between three schools with no two consecutive days in the same place. It is great being able to focus more on what I am doing there, and I have also noticed that I am starting to have an even better working relationship with the tutors and other students. The stress and urgency that I felt, and no doubt exuded, last term is no longer there and this I am sure makes for easier and more productive working days – for everyone! Being present is a sign of my interest and it makes it easier for others to be interested too. I also have time to be more interested in what other people are doing which is doubly rewarding as our discussions are most often in Swedish.

On two occasions this week I have explained my work in Swedish! At least I think I have explained my work!! Once to some visiting tutors at college, and also to two new staff at the Andersson Sandström gallery where I returned to buy catalogues of Riitta Paivalainen whom they are showing at the moment. It is somehow both wonderful and worrying to discover a successful artist whose work is related/parallel/similar to one’s own. Paivalainen’s works with second-hand clothes and mentions that she is interested in their unknown histories. There is a picture of a piece in which she uses shirts that could easily have come from my collection.

Not only does her content give me things to think about but her form does too. She produces large-scale photographs of garments and fabric in specific conditions and locations. She states that she is a photographer rather than an installation artist. Her interest is in the image rather than the encounter with the real objects. Reading this led me to think about two things; firstly that there is a saleable (re-exhibitable!) product (artwork), and secondly that as she sets up her photographs in isolated landscapes she most likely avoids problems of permissions and public accessibility. Producing an image affords her a level of control and possibility that would be hard to achieve if the site-specific installations were the artwork. This has certainly given me something to think about!

Where might the objects I produce and collect be located if I were to place them somewhere to be photographed? Not in the natural landscape (as Paivalainen’s are) … I think I see them being somewhere more architectural. Architectural and yet at odds with them, the polished cake tins of Glory do not belong in a kitchen – I would like to see them re-placing classical busts somewhere … Sir John Soane’s house? … in the V&A Museum?


Proof-reading the entries for the Supermarket Art Fair catalogue is a good reminder of the range of activities that artists undertake – it is far too easy for me to become fastened in my own routines and habits. Reading an article about how an artist worked with her siblings to establish two dynamic and radical contemporary art venues in Syria which since the ‘unrest’ have become domestic residences/refuges for her and her colleagues families is somewhat of a wake-up call. Both the passion to actively engage with forming a new art-scene and the practical solution to surviving subsequent national turmoil are inspirational.

So the question is “what is stopping me?” stopping me from doing everything that I can to realise my dreams. The question is particularly pertinent right now, not just because it is the beginning of a new year, but also because after two years studying Swedish I now have to get on with building a life that felt rather ‘on-hold’. In a recent feature about a designer’s home was a photograph of a sentence written across a wood-burning stove, it reads: the best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up. Again, there is something about the relation between ambition and pragmatism, and it is perhaps this that seems to be hooking me in.

I am in an amazing position right now; I have very few responsibilities, just about enough security to maintain the studio, I am at a prestige school, and I am relatively naïve about the scene here so can ask questions that Swedes would not. Perhaps the question is not about what might be stopping me, but rather what do I want to do – really want to do!

We have one final assignment for the Making Matters course – to write and present a draft research proposal. After a year of wrestling with the concept of artistic research I feel ready for it and am looking forward to working the assignment. My intention to see if I can produce something which successfully combines my artistic dreams with the pragmatism of institutional frameworks. If I pull it off then there is no reason why it could not be the basis of real project*.

It is hard for me to say what I want, not because I do not know what it is, but because I am scared that by daring to utter it it will become vulnerable. Somehow keeping it locked away inside me can become a way to keep it safe. The inherent foolishness of this is clear to me – I cannot expect anyone to know what I want, and therefore to help me achieve it, without me sharing that information with them. If I want to have shows I need to let people who can make this happen know that I am interested. Working with the exhibition space at the studio it has been interesting to read the letters we receive from artists hoping for an exhibition. The easiest ones to respond to are of course those that describe both the artwork(s) and the intended exhibition clearly and succinctly.

Every year I think that this will be the year when I learn how to get an exhibition, learn how to speak with galleries, learn how to make successful applications. As the Supermarket fair approaches it is a good time to remember that there is no “best” way to do things as subtle/random/personal as this, for me thing is just to do it! Wake up, turn up, and say hello!

Please get in touch if you will be visiting the fair (14-16 February, Stockholm) it would be great to meet you, and I can pass on some tips for surviving a weekend in what can seem an expensive city! I highly recommend Supermarket for anyone engaged in artist-led initiatives, it is a great networking opportunity, not everywhere is as economically stricken as the UK and well-conceived collaborative projects can really benefit all partners.

*And here I do mean ‘project’, not a single artwork or a series but a piece of sustained work with its own processes and outcomes.