As I start writing this Britain is still a member of the European Union, a member preparing to leave but a member no the less. I am listening to The World Tonight on Radio 4 and feeling quite hollow.

For reasons that I cannot explain I feel the need to stay up and be awake at the moment of leaving. I am here alone save two cats – I am still housing sitting in Uppsala. What does one do to mark something when one is alone? I have celebrated New Year on my own – I raised a glass of whisky, acknowledged friends and family with a nod towards things (the postcards, pictures, a vase and a candlestick about the kitchen) that remind me of them, and toasted an exciting year ahead. Tonight I feel far from home. I do not mean far from Britain – I am not one of those people who moves to another country and continues to speak of the land where I was born as ’home’ – I mean far from my home, my apartment in Enköping where I live and where there are treasured traces of people who are dear to me. Despite having lived here for over eight years my closest friends are stil in the UK (made possible not least by the internet, Skype and WhatsApp).

Perhaps I am feeling anxious. Anxious that as Britain develops in a new direction I might lose that closeness with my friends and family. Of course there are differences between Sweden and Britain but there are far more similarities. On a day to day level my UK friends and I live pretty similar lives at the moment. I wonder if this will continue, or whether increased ’divergence’ will create a rift between us. The more I get used to the employee-focused Swedish environment the less I will be able to grasp the realities of my friends in the creeping (stampeding?) British ’gig economy’. I will continue to be free to travel throughout Europe, trips to exhibitions in Germany, France, Belgium or Spain will be more attractive (for purely economic reasons) than those in Britain – my points of reference will begin to differ from those of my friends.

2 minutes to go. I am listening to the radio more than I am writing – I cannot listen to one thing and write another! Reports of regional celebrations, interviews with civil servants, predictions about what lies ahead.

12:00 Sweden, 11:00 United Kingdom, it’s done.


I am working tomorrow and should go to bed now but cannot quite bring myself to do it yet. Switching-off the computer, putting my teacup in the sink, cleaning my teeth, getting into bed and turning off the light are too concrete an end to a day, to an event, that I do not want to acknowledge. If I stay up, if I never go to sleep again, then I won’t wake up on the day when Britain is no longer European. It’s a childish notion and obviously foolish but it’s how I feel.


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Last week Project Me turned 13 – it is now a teenager. I don’t remember when I first starting thinking about how many years ago I began this blog, I know it was a good few years ago. It feels as though I have become more conscious of each passing year the less that I actually write it. Belated Happy Birthday wishes Project Me!

This time last year I was writing an article for the Supermarket Art Fair magazine about artists’ preparations for what seemed to be Britain’s immanent departure from the EU. One year on and I have just submitted an article to the same publication about my feelings as we fast approach the new and certain date. In many ways I remain as concerned about the future as I did last year – with one major difference, this year I have dual nationality so know that come what may I can continue to live and work in Sweden as well as other European countries.

I am curious about what will happen at 11pm on Friday evening – will it be fireworks and celebrations, protests and riots, quiet relief that it’s finally happening? Writing now I almost wish that I was going to be there, though I don’t know if I would want to be with friends and family in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Wiltshire or Devon. I am not part of any British community here so I’ve no-one to share the evening with. Will it be televised? Do I stay up late and watch the coverage? It feels so momentous and yet I have no idea of what I want to do. To go to bed and simply wake-up to a new order seems too passive and anti-climatic.

For the first time in a long time I do have plans for Saturday night … and they include dancing! As part of their Happymess (sic!) season the Haka artists’ group are having a party at Köttinspektionen. I am really looking forward to it, I know some other artists who are also going and as luck would have it I am house (and cat) sitting in Uppsala this week so I don’t have to worry about getting home afterwards – perfekt.

Ah yes Uppsala! The idea of moving here is still buzzing about my head. For many and varied reasons it is neither a quick nor a simple decision to make. On Sunday I looked at three flats that I could possibly afford (providing that the bank will give me a modest mortgage). They were very small. Could I really downsize to such a scale: live in a compact bed-sit? My entire life would change and I am not one hundred percent (or even seventy-five percent) certain that I want all of the changes. To be honest I want about fifty percent of the changes. I want a more stimulating and cultural environment, is that enough? Not only would a flat here be considerably smaller but probably any studio too. I would have to commute to work in Enköping three days a week and I already know that I am not a natural commuter. In Enköping it is no more than a ten minute cycle (which I do year round) from my home to the studio, the gym, and to work. Even if I were to find work in Uppsala it seems clear that the distances between the four major centers of my daily life would dramatically increase. Cycling back ’home’ (to my temporary residence) after a meeting yesterday evening it occurred to me that perhaps my initial approach – looking at flats – was a false start, a step in the wrong direction. What if I started to look for a studio here instead? Find a suitable studio could take some time as there only a few studio associations here and all have waiting lists. I neither want nor have the resources to take on a whole premises myself so investigating the group studio possibilities would be a good thing to do. If/when I find a studio perhaps thinking about my living/working would be easier. I could even have a studio here while still living in Enköping – for a while at least – especially if I could spend the odd night at the studio!

  • Other options:
    Get known as a willing house/cat/dog sitter here in Uppsala
    Slowly build up a social and cultural life here before making any snap decision
    Sublet my flat and rent something here


I have a lot of other things going on at the moment and wondering about moving and all that that entails is probably a bit of a displacement activity from more the pressing, but less fanciful, things that I have to get done such as my Swedish VAT return and decorating the bedroom. I’ve also got proof-reading for Supermarket to do and the first 2020 show at Glitter Ball to put on!

This really is no time for daydreaming Stuart! Give Klas a great Glitter Ball experience and (proof) read a few short texts each evening! It’s only a number of days before I have a week away for some very much needed sun – that’s when I can take it easy and fantasise about the future!


In the opening paragraph of a piece on Swedish artist Maj Bring (1880 – 1971), Johanna Uddèn refers to Bring’s frustration at women artists not being taken seriously. My mind wandered and wondered if I am taken seriously as an artist. As soon as that question formed itself it was superseded by a second and more demanding one: do I take myself seriously as an artist?

For the last few days I have been mulling this over and trying to avoid the serious truth that I should admit – I probably take myself less seriously as an artist than other people do. And herein lies a useful realisation. What if other people: peers, colleagues, curators, administrators, take me seriously as an artist, and I do not take myself seriously as an artist? A series of specific and non-specific possibilities repeat though my mind – none of them particularly pleasant – missed opportunities, misunderstandings, disappointments and frustrations.


So this year I am going to start taking myself more seriously as an artist. I imagine that it will take the year (at least) for me to work out how to do it. To avoid time-wasting I will start putting things in to practice as I go. One thing that I can initiated immediately is making (re-instating) time for reflection, which where this blog comes in.

Another thing is to be more active in seeking out opportunities for my practice. And by this I mean both opportunities that already exist as well as making suggestions for new opportunities.

Last week I received two phone calls (both on my old-fashioned land-line) inviting me to participate in new things. The first was a call from one of the management selection team with the Uppsala Artists’ Club. She/they would like me to stand for election to the management committee at the next AGM. It is very flattering to be asked after only having been a member for one year. I accepted their invitation after thinking it over for a day or so. The club is going through big changes with the upcoming move from the building where it has been for many years to a fully re-designed and refurbished location only a few meters away – literally the other side of the a small courtyard. The move is being seen as an opportunity to re-think how the club does things for its members as well as for its public, being asked to join the committee at this time seems very exciting. Committee members are responsible for a different aspect of the club, I have been asked to ’pair-up’ with another artist to oversee the public and educational programmes. As I already work with arts education this probably seemed like something I would jump at, however it was what almost put me off it altogether. Much as I enjoy working with children I really miss more mature conversations, events and projects. It has been too long since I was a guest lecture at an art-school! I talked through my concern with the woman who called me and said that I was most interested in working with the public programme. The artist that she/they suggested that I pair up with is apparently passionate about working with children so it should not be a problem if I concentrate more on the talks, events, and hopefully even some workshops for adult audiences.

The second phone call was from a teacher who had been at one of the Creative Saturday sessions that I run as part of my job as arts education officer with the council. I remember that she came with her daughter and stayed a long time. As the session quietened down and her daughter was engrossed in making her collage we had time to chat. We spoke about all kinds of things including our ways of ’teaching’ creative subjects – she is a music teacher. She and a colleague are putting together an application to run a ’Creative School’ project next spring. These projects support cross curricular learning through the arts, the model is well established, and they are funded by the education department via regional authorities. It is something that other artists have told me about as a good way of working in schools as an artist. Based on our conversation that was interspersed with making sure everyone had sufficient glue-sticks, a good selection of paper and old magazine, and appropriate scissors, she thinks that I would be an ideal artist for the ’mathematical patterns’ project that they are proposing. I guess that seeing me in action with the children, including her own, played a part too! And she had looked at my website, so I cannot say that she had not done her homework. Again I initially hesitated, even suggesting another “more experienced” artist. Thankfully she was persistent and reassuring, and I decided to accept her invitation. I really hope that their proposal is successful and that we get to work together.

It was a real boost to my confidence to speak with those two entusiastic, intelligent and professional woman, and to hear that they wanted me involved in projects that mean a lot to them. I owe it to them, to the club and school they represent, and not least to myself, to do the very best that I can and to take myself as they obviously do – seriously.


I enjoy making art that is  visually pleasing, accessible, playful, occassionally even a bit cheeky . And I want to keep it all this … but seriously.



Today a group from the studio met up and threw out a lot of scrap that has been shuffled around since we moved in to the old gymnastic hall. It felt very good to get rid of debris and rubbish left by the builders who began the aborted renovations years before we took over. Of course we added to the pile of assorted broken plasterboard, twisted metal, discarded timber, broken tiles and general rubbish when we took down some very curiously positioned partitian walls. A clean(er) slate for the new year! We are now an official association (registered with the tax authorities in December – a vital step in Sweden) and it was great that it’s no longer just Klas and me doing things. It felt like real and serious progress (things move slowly here in Sweden and extra slowly here in Enköping).

In early February Klas, Ida and I have a meeting with the council about the future of the studios now that they own the building again (having bought it back from the housing department). Hopefully we can secure some kind of longer term agreement. We are going to propose a public programme and even access to the shared workshop areas in return for their committed support. Personally I would also like to see the gallery move in to the former gymnastic hall on the floor above us. The space provides far better exhibition opportunities than the gallery’s current location and it would be fantastic to have studios and gallery in the same building. I although from sitting on the gallery committee I am pretty sure that I am the only one there who would be in favour of such a radical move.


I am looking forward to getting to the studio and starting to play with some ideas and materials. A few days work with Tim making (or rather re-making) some fantastic outfits for a major industry staff party (how the other half live!) has inspired me and reminded me how much I love making. The part few months I worked almost full-time with a mix of guided tours for school and project planning meetings, while I enjoy these things they don’t provide the same joy and excitement as working hands on with materials.

For environmental and geographical reasons I feel that my time of working with glitter is limited. I have found a manufacturer of a ’bio-glitter’ that looks very similar to the very non-bio glitter that I currently use, however they are UK based so if things go according to Johnson’s timetable I have at the most one year to get supplies from them. My work with Tim, and a visit to another designer’s studio, has rekindled my interest in working with fabric. I already have some ideas for some sculptural installation pieces in fabric as well as some sketches for other textile works … something to develop for the group show this summer … ???


In the meantime it’s almost time to start proof-reading for the artists’ initiatives’ art fair catalogue and magazine. This year I want to keep this task in balance with time at the studio.

2020 is going to be a good year – I have decided!



*Swedes have a lovely phrase ‘God fortsättning’ which tranlsates as Good continuation.  It is said at this time of year to friends and colleagues and wishes them the continuation of the good will, peace and joy that they have (hopefully) experienced over Christmas.