“Dormant” – an appropriate word as it puts me in mind of the mouse (dormouse) at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, and describes the recent state of my blog here! In an only somewhat tenuous way the condition of my blog and the story of Alice in Wonderland are not unrelated. Over the past few weeks I have been quite busy assisting Tim with feathers, hats, and headdresses for the launch of a collaborative project between him, Lisa (Sweden’s only hat-maker) and Haakon (a make-up artist and mask-maker). Their project: House of Mad Hatter.
The opening was on Saturday. I am very grateful for being invited to join them in Gothenburg and to have the opportunity to meet people that Tim has worked with over the years. Once again I found myself feeling inspired to get on with my own things, and see if I can not find ways to do it more collaboratively. I was reminded once more that an artist’s relationship with their gallery, curator, institution, financier, is (or should be) a collaboration. And that the only way to build collaborations to get on and do it!
Working with Tim has also made me very aware of how much of his knowledge and skill is based on really understanding his materials. His level of competence is not only technical but also historical, and of course aesthetic. In the past I have always been seduced by more conceptual approaches to my own practice that in turn has led to working with a range of materials and processes. I am quite envious of how focussing on a specific range of materials develops an expertise that I do not recognise in either my work or myself. The trouble is that my mind runs away with itself – my mind is certainly faster than my hand! And this is how I find myself with a studio full weird and wonderful materials and ‘academic’ art works that simply do not pay the rent!! I enjoy learning new things, new techniques, however if I were to be critical of this I would have to say that it the attraction (distraction) of new processes and materials might well be hindering the deepening development of the more crafted qualities that I admire in other artists’ work.
Sorting through the shelves here a couple of weeks ago I came across a length of blue velvet that was intended to be used in my degree-show piece. Prior to dying feathers this piece of fabric was the only thing that I have every dyed. My degree work was a large wooden double-sided sculptural wardrobe. The top-side of which should have been upholstered in this deep midnight blue velvet. Due to various, serious, issues during the final term the piece eventual presented as its component parts rather than a singular object. The length of blue velvet remained uncut, unworked. The theatrical camp aspect of my current work at Mejan includes creating a costume for a dandy satyr. Blue velvet. Dandy satyr. One very fitted short-tailed jacket with ‘M-notch’ lapels made in the 25 year old velvet that has followed me from Dartington to Stockholm.
I recently learnt that the ‘Introduction to Artistic Research’ course that I co-lead will not be offered in the new year. This is disappointing. Not only do I enjoy the work but we have also received such positive feedback from so many participants. Anna and I had even began to discuss the possibility of developing and extending the course over the full academic year to increase the amount of one to one project supervision and to enable us to programme more visiting guests. Hopefully we will have the chance to propose this in time for it to be considered for the coming autumn term. In the meantime I am looking forward to a spring term when I can focus on my own projects both at Mejan and here in the studio.