It dawned on me a few days ago that I need (want?) to take on broad what being an artist means in a more complete sense of the word … or perhaps ‘concept’.  And that I need to do this in the light of both “here” and “now”.  There is no doubt that I can call myself a creative person, or even an artistic person but can I really call myself an artist when I cherry-pick the bits that I like and do not deal with the bits that I do not like or find difficult.  It is good fun to make things in the studio, to dream up fantastic projects, to take courses, go to openings and exhibitions.  I do not find it so much fun to get myself shows, to write project and funding applications, to make work that might have commercial appeal.  If I am unwilling to accept the more challenging aspects of being an artist can I really expect to enjoy all the exciting and fun parts?

So, over the next year I will do what I think needs to be done so that I feel right in calling myself an artist.  I will also ask for feedback as I may have the wrong idea about things, and I am very aware that I am still learning about the Swedish art scene.


This afternoon I took a walk around the industrial area by the habour here in Enköping.  It was a preliminary studio hunt – “hunt” is perhaps a little to violent and aggressive, “search” might be a better choice.  As I re-read, and wonder about, that last sentence I notice that I feel more comfortable with a more academic “search” than with a competitive “hunt”.  This is a good example of what I mean about being more acutely aware of the here and now.  My world is not academia, I am out in the market place and it might be good and useful if I acknowledge, understand, and adapt to this!  And academia is hardly non-competitive – sometimes I wonder which fantasy world bubble I have been living in!  I should be careful not to confuse the positive and negative sides of passion, drive, and commitment, rather I should keep both sides in balance – to hunt for something is not inherently wrong, how we hunt and what we do with our prey are other questions!

Now back to the studio hunt!  There are some amazing dis-used buildings by the water, most however are too large and too in need of structural repair.  They are certainly too much for me to take on though I will get in touch with the property owners and ask about small to medium size premises.  In thinking through what I want for a studio I have realised that it is important for me to be in town rather than out in the countryside, that I want somewhere I can work the year, and day, round, that the property has good access and at least basic utilities and facilities.  There are a number of vacant shops in and around the town centre but these are less appealing than something more industrial.  Of course if I find something suitable and it happens to be a former shop I am not going to turn it down!  It is going to be interesting to find out what the rent is like here – I really have no idea.

Since early November I have worked almost full-time – this was never my plan (probably not Tim’s either but he has had a lot of jobs)!  Knowing that there is quite a lot of work up until May it seems foolish to take a studio now and not have time to use it.  It is nice to feel that I have time to investigate what my options are.  In the meantime I have my website to update and at least a couple of leads to follow up about potential exhibition venues.

I am very much looking forward to the coming year(s)!



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As I work more regularly with Tim it has been interesting to consider both the similarities and differences between our approaches to our own practices.  Last week it occurred to me that artists have far (far!) less distance from their work – or at least the majority of the artists that I know.  Claiming only to speak for myself I know how every part of the creative process has meaning and significance for me.  These meanings and significancies might never be visible, revealed or communicated to the viewer, this however does not diminish their importance to me.  Often when I work for Tim we are most focused on how the finished piece will look – especially when we are on a tight deadline and the piece is destined for the stage rather than a private client.  I have found myself wondering if my quest for perfection in even the unseen parts might be a disadvantage and distraction, on the other hand the time spent doing the very best job that I can gives me a particular relation to my materials and the piece that I am working on that I would not have if I employed other ways and means.  So am I making the work for me or for the viewer?  This is a question that I do not expect to find an answer to.

For several weeks now I have worked almost full-time with just the occasional day off during the week.  What I miss most is time to develop my own ideas and time to play.  This is something I want to address in the New Year.  As Tim’s assistant I do not expect to have ‘play-time’ while I am working for him, what I do want to do is to give myself time and space to play with my own work.  And for that I really need to feel comfortable with the studio – my work table has become somewhat of a dumping ground for things that do not really belong there, and as a result I have found myself dreaming of taking a studio elsewhere.  What I ought to do is clear the decks and start making something.  That is one decision made – good!

With the New Year approaching it is good to set some ambitions for coming twelve months.  I have started writing the updates for my website which is something long overdue. I wonder just how detrimental an un-updated homepage is?  I fear that it communicates a lack of interest and professionalism rather than an active and busy life.  Again I am reminded of the ratio of time that artists ‘should’ spend on all the administrative aspects of maintaining a practice compared to the time spent actually making – I think it was 80/20 in favour of admin.  It would be great to have some shows next year though I think that it is more realistic to aim for speaking with people about shows for 2017.  Of course if something comes up for 2016 I am not going to turn it down!

It is good for me to remember that not only have I moved home but my life has changed significantly in other ways too.  I am not taking any courses and I am working.  It should not be surprising that it is taking a little time for things to settle in me and for me to find my way in this new town, these new routines, this new life!


ps.  while clearing away I found some odd keys – one of which unlocked my ‘petty-cash’ tin which has been locked since I packed up the studio in West Norwood in 2010!  I am now better off by €51.75, 72 Norwegian kronor, and 21p.  There were also two first class stamps (UK). More worryingly there are a few receipts from a trip to Venice in 2007 … how did I balance my books in 2008?


I have been thinking about a couple of people recently; one a friend in London, the other more of a friend of a friend here.  Both these creative people have become very successful in realising their ambitions, and while they work in completely different spheres of the art/design world I am incredibly impressed with their focus.  Focus is something that I want to concentrate on and perhaps seeing how Tine and Halvor have made their practices their focus is a good starting point.  What strikes me is that they have both focused on what they want their practice to be rather than on individual pieces/projects – a meta-level focus.  It also strikes me that they have both taken on board the cultures in which they operate and have identified what they need to do to establish themselves and generate interest in what they do.  What is really re-assuring is that both Tine and Halvor are genuinely good people and they have made it in competitive worlds without losing or sacrificing their kindness, generosity, curiosity, wit, or integrity.

Over the last couple of weeks I have begun to think about new work – studio and installation/live work pieces as well as some community events here in Enköping.  In the past I might have laid too much emphasis on thinking that getting to know and understand my focus would come through being able to give it a word or phrase.  I thought that if I could know and understand what my focus – “theme” –  was (in a verbal form) then I would be in a better position to develop it.  I thought that if I could reason why I should make something, if I could understand my motivation to invest in making something before I even began making it, then I would be on the right track.  It is as though I wanted to make visual art that could also exist in another (linguistic!) form. My role is to make and to make things that are experienced in their artistic reality.  I do not want to feel that I need to justify what I do.  Perhaps I became confused between ‘justifying’ and ‘explaining’.  I am going to see if I can not be more confident in explaining what I want to do and less worried about justifying what I want to do!

Ambitions for the coming year:

  • Extend and develop Following Eugène.  Mr Dandy Blue’s Room: an installation – planning, furnishing, creating an interior/environment for Mr Dandy Blue.
  • Play with old sewing machines as material
  • Seek exhibition and showing opportunities here in Sweden, in the UK and abroad.
  • Investigate starting some community art projects here

The last point came to me when in the town centre last weekend.  The week before at the Christmas Market I heard a speaker (I missed the beginning so I do not know if they were from the Council or the Shop-keepers’ Association) talking about how vital it is keep the town centre alive.  I completely agree and think that with the growth of the physical out-of-town retail parks and the ease of on-line shopping that town centres need to offer something other than just shopping.  I think that they need to be culturally vibrant as well, and to offer experiences that capture both the hearts and minds of people.  Last Saturday the town streets were wet, dark and dismal by 2.30pm!  Most shops only are only open from 11am to 3pm on Saturdays (even in December!) and some close at 2pm!  The tail end of a storm made the skies dark even earlier than normal and the Christmas lights seem to be on a time rather than a light sensor.  There was nothing to draw people in to town, not when there are the bright lights and Christmas jingles of chain stores just a few miles away.  So it made me wonder if I should propose a lantern parade.  It could be a little like the ones I worked on in Bromley many years ago, with children from different schools making lanterns and then parading them through town, and a little like the brilliant community events that Birgitta organises on Årstfältet.

There are so many exciting and important things to be done, the only thing that there is a shortage of is time!


Tonight is the eve of the eighth anniversary of John’s death.  Eight years ago I (unknowingly) spent the final evening with the man that I love.  Not unsurprisingly John has been in my thoughts.  He would be highly amused to see me working on costumes for musicals – a type of theatre that was definitely more his thing than mine.  He would be shocked to hear me speak Swedish!  John had an amazing lust for life – something which is good for me to remember and to honour.  He was not one for sitting on the side-lines, and he was courageous, charming and passionate.  In being himself he made the world a better place and that is exactly what I want to do too – for him, for me, for us. That is my focus.