Tomorrow I am going to meet two fellow a-n bloggers! Elena Thomas and Wendy Williams are here with their group show. It will be the first time that I have met them, and my first experience of meeting people who I feel that I have come to know through their blogs. The show is the other side of the town that I am moving to so it is a perfect reason to check out what is happening there.
This week a spat between the Academy of Fine Art and the Royal Institute of Art has re-confirmed my belief in, and commitment to, art schools as places of practice and process. The academy has made a very public and provocative protest against the new rector’s budget which includes the appointment of a chair of philosophy and a significant increase in taught course content (as opposed to experimental content) in the architectural programmes. I am happy to be finishing my studies this summer.
Last week’s art fairs were interesting in a rather low-key way! I spoke with an artist-led initiative from Berlin and another from Uppsala. In different ways both made me think about potential ways of working once I am settled in my new home. At the commercial galleries and fair I saw two places that I can think to ask for feedback from.
At the moment I am enjoying focusing on my presentation for the end of the course, though it feels as though I am only at the beginning of something that could be far larger! I am in discussion with the owners of what remains of the naval bath-house on Skeppsholmen. The building is a little wooden pavilion that was the entrance to the baths. My proposal is to open the doors to building and invite people to walk through from the land to the water side. In doing so they will trace the steps of Eugène Jansson and the other men who swam, exercised, and hung out there 100 years ago. In addition have been looking at making a guided walk through Stockholm. The walk will refer to Eugène’s life and/or work. Visiting the addresses where he lived I thought about the Blue Plaque programme in the UK. There is nothing marking the places where Eugène lived. In Stockholm there are a few plaques commemorating literary figures and others noting historical buildings but nothing so comprehensive as the blue plaques. To some extent I can understand that Swede’s generally democratic attitude that all people are equal might make such a scheme uncomfortable. However I have always enjoyed spotting those plaques and like the way that they connect my contemporary presence on the street to history. I was delighted to ‘come across’ the plaque marking the studios of Ricketts and Haslewood Shannon (amongst others) when out cycling around Holland Park at Christmas. While I was walking around the building my friend Kim started talking with a big family group who spotted us looking at the plaque and asked her if she knew about the artists – which she did! A few minutes of discussion about cities, gentrification, and artists unfolded. I like the Blue Plaques!
Funny, I had not made the connection between Ricketts, Haslewood Shannon and Eugène Jansson before. The connection is tenuous to say the least but they were gay artists of comparable ages working at the same time. Why am I attracted to these artists?