What kind of year has 2019 been for you?
It has been a bit of a roller-coaster year! For the most it has been positive and moving upward but there have certainly also been some scary and sudden drops too. This time last year I was preparing to show in Uppsala’s Art Cube which was exciting and daunting in equal measure. The show M: meeting place opened in late February and was well received – a huge relief!
At the same time I was (still) waiting to hear about my application for Swedish citizenship. It too the immigration office over two and half years to process my application (their initial estimate was three months). With the UK poised to leave the Eu on March 29 I was getting anxious. Not having Swedish, or European, nationality makes being self-employed impossible here, so it would effectively stop me from being a professional artist.
Thankfully I was granted citizenship on January 18, and received confirmation of this on February 6. I cried with relief.
Watching the torturous process of Britian exiting the EU has been painful. I so wanted everything after June 23 2016 to have been nothing more than a bad dream.
As the year ends I can see that I have become much more professionally established here with invitations to join a regional arts management committee as well as a couple of good group shows. I have also been given a permanent contract as Arts Education Officer with my local council (a half time post – I am always quick to assert)!
What has changed for the better, and what if anything has changed for the worse?
My identity has changed for the better! I now have dual citizenship which means that I can continue to live and work in both Sweden and the UK should I choose to. This along with a regular income gives me a far better sense of security. This in turns affords me a greater sense of freedom in my practice.
On a very mundane level my website has changed for the better. What started as preparations for not ’buying goods or services’ from a post-EU UK resulted in a more engaging and easily maintained website.
Do I need to say that British politics has changed for the worse?
What would you wished had happened this year but didn’t?
I wish that the Labour Party had gotten its act together.
I wish that I had remembered the deadline for submitting to the Spring Exhibition.
I wish that I had fallen in love.
I wish that I had made more time for blogging.
What would you characterise as your major achievement this year and why?
My major achievement this year was having some professional fun! It is far too easy for me to make things far too serious and in doing so I can stifle my own creativity and other people’s enjoyment. In the shadows of local, national and international challenges it has been a major achievement to find and maintain a lightness of touch and a sense of wonder when I could all to easily have slipped into the melancholy or even worse the sentimental. Though occasionally tough remembering to keep things pleasurable has become self-fulfilling and I am receiving positively glowing feedback for both my practice and my employment. This encourages me to trust my instincts and judgements, and strengthens my conviction that art provides ever more essential ways of thinking and being.
Is there anything that you’d like to have done this year but didn’t?
I would have liked to have summoned up the courage to approach some commercial galleries. I would have liked to have seen more exhibitions.
What would make 2020 a better year than 2019?
Securing a long term contract on the studio would be fantastic. It is frustrating that we could be asked to leave with no more than three months’ notice. I would like to freshen up the studio and build a proper kitchen but the constant threat of having to leave makes me reluctant to invest my time and money.
Giving myself more time to play at the studio would make 2020 a better year. I have a solo show in November and although I have pages of ideas and notes I would really like to develop new work through playing with materials.
2019 was a pretty good year so it feels as though any betterment in 2020 is going to be incremental rather than radical. There are endless fantastical things that would make the coming year better than the previous one from the personal to the political: being selected for a significant international arts prize; Britian and EU signing a common arts and culture agreement that protects, develops and extends artistic opportunities in the broadest senses; arts and culture receiving the same support and interest as is afforded to sports and business … artists being treated as valued and valuable members of communities …
There is work to be done, and 2020 is ready and waiting!