Today I learnt that I have all the clearances required to proceed with buy the apartment!  Once my savings have been transferred from the UK I can arrange a moving date!

The estate agent rang (no solicitors involved here) while I was twisting a length feather boa that will be part of my dandy satyr out-fit.  The pieces for the end of term show are slowly coming together, thankfully I do not need the costume until next week when I will lead a evening’s walk through parts of Sodermalm where Eugène Jansson lived and worked.  Tomorrow I take the glitter mats to the exhibition venue – they will be there through out the show except for when they feature in my very site and time specific installation on Saturday afternoon.



It does not feel as though Following Eugène is coming to a conclusion.  It feels much more as though it is only just getting going.  It is somewhat ironic perhaps that I hear about my move away from Stockholm at the same time that my mind is buzzing with ways that I want to develop and extend the work.  Of course it is not necessary to be in the city just because Eugène lived and worked here – I can make field visits when I need to.  What I might miss though are the opportunities afforded by being a student at Mejan.  The library and the possibility to request books from any academic library in Sweden has been great and enabled me to read books that are out of print and that are not readily available in public libraries.  Having said that I realise that is time to take a break from all the courses – I have been on one course or another (and frequently more than one at a time) since the end of 2011.


Last week I worked out at Featherland (as I call it) on my costume, Tim was/is helping me as payment for my work on his pieces last year.  One evening his partner Anders asked me how I see my life after moving.  The question caught me unaware and I babbled about day-to-day things that I look forward to doing.  Anders can be very direct, he fixed me with his gaze and said that he wanted to know how I intended to make a living.  Before I could come up with any kind of reasonable reply he continued that he wants me to “be commercial”.  He said that he likes me, that he likes how I think and he thinks that I need to be commercial.  After a few minutes of me telling him about my previous (and less than successful) attempts to be commercial Tim came back in to the room and the conversation shifted.  However I have been giving his question and comment a lot of thought, and I think that they were perfectly timed and intended.  It occurred to me that if I take ‘commercial’ to mean economically viable rather than strictly (restrictively?) saleable in a simple ‘product’ sense then the question opens up a range of possibilities.

It could be very beneficial to consider the commercial aspect (in an expanded sense) of my practice when I embark on something new – to ask my self that terribly capitalist sounding question: who is my customer.  If my customer is someone without resources, or someone who I want to give something to, then how and where do the finances work.  In the past I have invested money earned elsewhere in my practice.  This is perhaps not the most appropriate, or sustainable, way of working.  And furthermore it is perhaps too isolated a way of working.  If I want to make a site-specific temporary installation perhaps it would be better to gather a collaborative team around me in order to achieve it, and in that team should be someone (an individual or organisation) who can financially support the costs of the piece.  And, of course, I would have to work with the needs of my fellow collaborators.  If I want arts council funding I will have to think about what they want!  Writing this down makes me realise it is exactly the kind of advise that I would give to someone else, now it is a good time to give it to myself!  Now is a good time to focus on seeing my practice in its social context!!



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The studio floor is rather blue and twinkly!  I am making glitter mats for my end of term/course show.  Most of the glitter is on the mats and the sheets of paper laid out to catch the overspill.  However a noticeable amount of glitter strays on to the actual floor.  Actually it strays all over the place!  This is the first time that I have i) attempted to stick glitter to flexible plastic and ii) mixed by own shade of glitter.  After being so uptight about any other colour than black on the black glitter door, it has been fun to blend different blue tones.  The scale and dimensions of the mats, and perhaps the brown paper that they are lying on, made me think of Rothko.  It is probably more correct to say that seeing two of the sparkly mats lying next to each other made me think how different Rothko’s Seagram paintings would be if they were made in glitter rather than oil paint.  And now as I write I am reminded of Corinne Felgate’s glittery re-interpretations of Mondrian’s grid based paintings that I saw in London earlier this year.  Felgate uses glitter material cut to the appropriate sizes and shapes – it might be fun to see if I could replicate the Rothko’s tonal variation through sprinkling glitter (which comes in a limited range of predetermined colours).  A Glittering Rothko series will have to wait until I have a studio again – it is not the sort of thing that I would want to do at home!

I am delighted that my idea of ‘glitter as methodology’ has found a place in my text for the book we are producing at school.  As I was reflecting on my year of Following Eugène I realised that my methodology was pretty glittery – by which I mean that I have been constructing a plane on which the various materials catch one’s eye in different ways depending on how you approach it.  The word ‘static’ interests me – both as an adjective: being still, and as a noun: electric charge.  When I work with glitter I am working both these definitions – sometimes at the same time.  Practically I want to fix the glitter down to make it static, and at the same time conceptually I want the glitter to have a sense of charge and excitement about it.  For me the glitter (the physical material) enables me to play in the spaces between all sorts of definitions and ideas – that is what I love about it!

The glitter mats also reminded me of a proposal for a glittering staircase that I made several years ago.  In that case I was planning to use crushed glass on an abandoned set of steps in the Crystal Palace train station.  Of course I was making more of references to glass and crystal in that case but now I think that the visual effect I wanted was not so different from what I am achieving with glitter.

The text that I have written feels like a good account of the various professional courses that I have taken over the past three years – an amalgamation of both the practical and the theoretical exercises at Mejan and Konstfack.  I cannot imagine that I would have been able to write such a piece, nor to feel confident about it, without finding my own way to engage with artistic research.



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Last Wednesday I showed my studio to about eight artists who are interested in taking it.  The one who has been on the waiting list longest will be offered it.  It has been a great studio and I hope that the next tenant enjoys it as much as I have.

There is so much change going on for, and around, me.  It is as if some of the more abstract changes are finding their reflections in physical forms.  At the beginning of April the train station next to the studio closed while ‘they’ work on the nearby bridge.  I tried a few different routes to the studio and finally settling on the train, walk, tram journey that avoids the central Stockholm.  Two weeks ago ‘they’ closed the flight of steps from the estate where I stay to the train station while ‘they’ build new ones in preparation for a coming housing development.  Earlier this week a set of wooden steps in the middle of my walk between the train and tram were demolished in advance of the tramline being extended.  In the space of five weeks I have had to adapt my way to the studio a good few times.  The scale of development at the edges of the city is massive and I experience it in these relatively small but significant re-routings that I have to make.  It reminds me of film clips of lab rats when ‘they’ change the layout in the mazes.  Every time I make a new path I think how different it will be when I move and have the studio at home.

I had a great, and very very Swedish, meeting with the team who take care of Skeppsholmen (the former naval island where the art school is).  I wrote them asking for permission to use the old cold-water bathhouse for an installation.  They invited me to come to their “fika” (which is like a coffee break but is so SO much more).  I thought that I would have to present my ideas and justify the proposal that I had sent them.  No, it was more a question of when would be convenient to come and collect the keys!  A brief discussion about responsibilities was followed by the seven of them and me having a good chat about Eugène Jansson, the island when it was a naval base, and even the tunnels beneath the city and its waterways.  It was wonderful to get such a warm reception and to see their genuine pleasure and excitement about enabling an artwork.

Meanwhile a few hundred meters away at the art school it is a very different story!  It occurred to me that appointing a curator as head of school is a bit like appointing the head of the army museum to be in charge of the ground troops.  They might be in roughly the same field but the experiences and approaches are completely different.  What concerns me most is what I see as a shift in focus from process to results.  The other thing that dawned on me is how I have an almost suspicious history of being at schools just before they change beyond recognition (and for the worst)!  It happened at Dartington, the Slade, and now at the Royal Institute /Mejan!

The artists that I know are amazing creative intelligent people who are able to give form and image to things previously unimaginable.  We see the world differently, we retain some of that childhood ability to be unencumbered by precedents and procedures.  With good education, support and encouragement artists have the ability to combine an adult’s social responsibilities with the child’s sense of play and wonderment.  This is my ambition for my own practice, and I fight for it not only for myself but for anyone else who is brave, crazy, brilliant enough to take the same risks.



Meeting Elena was like catching up with an old friend!  And we have carried on chatting away via email this week too.  She is as every bit passionate, humorous, insightful, and intelligent in person as she is on-line.  Over a ‘swenglish’ combination of Early Grey tea and cinnamon buns we chatted about art and life the way one does: the things that are catching our interests now, our up-coming bits, inspirational artists (she and the other artists visiting from the UK had been to the fantastic Louise Bourgeois show at Moderna), and how we got to where we are today.  By the time the others came back from searching out a paper shop I certainly felt that I had met a kindred spirit.

That morning I ventured out to the collaborative show featuring artists from the UK Scibase and the Swedish Mobile Art groups.  It was a lovely morning and I enjoyed the walk thorough an unknown town.  It was only when I got the gallery that it dawned on me that perhaps I should have checked in advance to see if Elena would be there.  She was not there – she was already in Stockholm!  After looking at the show I chatted with the artist who was invigilating and asked her to pass on my best wishes to Elena and Wendy.  It was on my way back to the station that I thought to look at Elena’s card that I had picked up, thankfully here phone number was on it.  feeling rather dumb for not having been better organised I sent a text.  Waiting for the train I contemplated how it was to have met Elena’s art but not her, consoling myself with the thought that it was fine that our friendship remain virtual.  As I arrived back in Stockholm my phone rang, it was Susanne – the Swedish artist who had arranged the show – she, Elena and the group were in Old Town and wondered if I would like to meet for tea!

It turns out that I had already met Susanne!  She often collaborates with an artist who used to have a studio at Wip, and I had met them both at various openings at the studio and in town.  Once again the art world proved itself not to be as big as I sometime imagine it.


May 1st is a bank holiday here, so it has been relatively peaceful here at the studios.  The usually busy road outside of my window has been noticeably quiet all day.  My intention was to finish writing my text for the publication (catalogue?) that we are making for the end of the course.  It does not have to be ready until the end of next week, and perhaps knowing this allows me to become distracted.  I am pleased with the opening paragraph, and will continue writing tomorrow.  Writing about my own work while I am still making it does not come easily to me.  Yesterday while speaking with Kim we discussed how we (us two) can feel the need to say too much and be too conscious of every word.  I am now trying to be accurate, playful, poetic, clear, confident, engaging and accessible.  Hopefully todays jottings, notes and half finished sentences will enable me to write something comprehensive and enjoyable tomorrow.


On Wednesday afternoon I have at least seven people coming to look at the studio – prospective tenants!  I am getting quite emotional about leaving.  As I do not have a date to move it has so far remained somewhat unreal.  I think that Wednesday might change that!


In the meantime I have not only a text to write but also some art to make!  We are installing the show in four weeks and at the moment I have sketches but nothing made.  The great news is that I have a meeting on Monday afternoon with the man who is responsible for the island, he likes my proposal for the old bath-house and it looks as though I will be able to use the building as part of my presentation.  I do not know the last time that the public had access to it, it could be as long ago as 1923 when the bathing was prohibited due to such poor water quality.  Earlier today I ordered several kilos of glitter to make a carpet that will guide visitors through the building!