Oh I am missing having easy access to a computer! I am in Stockholm, at the studio, for a couple of days before returning to the countryside for a few more (computer-less) weeks.
After not posting anything for a while it is difficult to know where/how to start …
I am feeling very inspired and am looking forward to the autumn when I will have more time here. The last two days have been spent sorting out the materials that I dumped here when I cleared my locker, shelf, and table at Mejan. It feels so good to be here amongst my own things and in my own space. Preparation can be very enjoyable in itself!
The summer has turned out to be far more interesting and inspiring than I thought it would be. By chance back in late spring I met Sweden’s only “plume maker”, after chatting for a while he asked if I might be interested in assisting with feathers for some costumes he would be dressing for a forthcoming production of Chicago. And that it what I started doing last week! It is a new area to me, and yet at the same time I am using and adapting skills and experience that I already have. Learning to mix dyes is though entirely new to me – and is fascinating after all the years of working with my materials pre-existing colour(s). Next week we begin to make steel-wire structures for the headdresses and ‘bustles’ that will be worn by the dancers. Tim’s studio is in the middle of the countryside above the stables on the farm where he and his partner live. It is a room packed with feathers, sewing machines, drawers of sequins and beads, rolls of cloth, shelves full of the patterns he has made for many of Sweden’s best-known performers. There are a couple of mannequins, and beneath the large worktable there are usually four dozing Jack Russells. His passion and enthusiasm is quite infectious and it is perhaps therefore that I find myself dreaming about my own ideas as I stir about lengths of boas (feather!) in vats of decadent, but slightly grubby, shades of purple.
Thoughts about how I want to approach the ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ course are also coming up. My proposal is to research the contemporary gay city – does ‘the city’ have the same draw for gay men now that smart-phone apps and the internet make contact/identification with other gay men possible no matter where you are. And at the same time as this de-locating of one aspect of city’s former functions for gay identity, there is increasing interest in gay and lesbian retirement flats – the first in Stockholm opened last year.
This year has seen the return of a temporary public art exhibition in Norrtalje (the county town in the area where I am spending the summer). After a two year break, and now managed by the council rather than an artist’s group, the show which sites work in the river that runs through the town centre has made a welcome come-back. Looking at the current work and wondering how I would respond to such an event, an idea started to develop. I do not know how the artists (usually about seven or eight) are selected but I am going to get in touch the arts officer after the summer. Elsewhere in the town I noticed that a new ‘culture centre’ is being built, and there is a quite impressive range of public art around the town – standing at just one point on the river bank I was not only able to see some of the temporary works in the river but three permanently installed sculptures doted around in the landscaping. As far as I can make out the council has taken on the project as it grew too large for the artist’s group to manage, there could be other politics going on but even so it is good to see a council investing in the arts.
Yesterday evening I went for a swim after a day in the studio. I took a 15-minute walk, mainly through woodland, down to the lake that runs through and around the city centre. The water was pleasantly warm and incredibly clear. Sitting on the rocks and watching the sun slowly start to set I could not help but smile to myself and acknowledge how much I enjoy doing what I do.
Walking back I collected a few feathers that I am now washing – I want to have some that I can experiment and play with ….