Exciting news – I will be taking over as Meetings Coordinator for Supermarket – Stockholm’s Independent Art Fair! Katarina is stepping down after seven very successful years of bringing together artists, curators, activists and producers. The meetings programme is a core component of the fair as it provides a structure for the exhibitors and ’professional network participants’ to discuss pertinent issues and ideas in smaller more focussed clusters away from the hustle and bustle of the exhibition halls. Over the years Katarina has built up a programme that has spawned a great many connections and collaborations between artist-run initiatives in Europe and around the world, as well as facilitating lively debate and the sharing of stories during the fair itself.

The postponement the fair scuppered Katarina’s plan to finish after the events in April which while disappointing for her is perfect for me. I am incredibly grateful that I am able to ’hop on a rolling train’ (as the Swedes say). Rather than starting from zero I inherit a good schedule of meetings, a host of meeting coordinators/leaders, and a list of exhibitors’ preferences. Unfortunately it is not yet possible to reschedule the fair as gatherings of more than fifty people are still prohibited in Sweden. The ambition is to hold the fair in late summer or early autumn, though this obviously depends on significant changes in the health authorities guidelines.

I am looking forward to being more actively engaged with the fair’s exhibitors and participants. I was very pleased to hear that Alice, Andreas and Pontus, the fair’s creative directors, all support me taking on the role – that means a huge amount to me. For the time being I will continue with the proofreading and language editing too, though it is perhaps time for me to keep my eyes open for another native English speaker to join the publication team.



Three years ago – I was working for the parks department at the time so it must be 2017 – three old sewing machines arrived at the studio. Two were (separate) flea-market finds, I think that they were £2.00 each. The third I got from a man at the recycling centre, I thought he was throw away just the carry-case, which I wanted for one of the other machines, but as soon as he handed it over I realised that there was a sewing machine still in the case. Don’t ask why I bought two identical machines – I reasoned that it would be good to have spare parts but honestly I think I just liked the symmetry! Yesterday I finally got around to testing all three – two needed new plugs fitting as their old Bakelite ones no longer fit electrical sockets (and no longer comply with health and safety regulations). The freebie and one of the flea-market machines work perfectly, they produce nice well tensioned stitches and hum along smoothly, even the lights work. The third produced a worrisome groaning noise staining to raise the needle that I had manually wound down in to the fabric. I decided not to test it further for fear of something snapping, igniting, or exploding. That machine though has now provided the other bought one with the removable arm extension that it was missing.

In the internal pocket of the freebie machine’s carry-case I found the original instruction manual. I eagerly flipped through it hoping to establish what a mysterious third button was for. The manual however proved to be in Finnish. So I have now added the manual for the Husqvarna Automatic CL21 (or CL21A) to my flea-market shopping list, along with the range of feet. (I realise now that I know they are called ’pressarfötter’ in Swedish but I am not sure what they are called in English.)

The machines are wonderful, with a very ’vintage’ shade of green on their sturdy metal bodies. The controls feel solid and are easy to use. Stitch options are straight or zig-zag with the facility to control stitch length and breadth (for the zig-zag). There is also the option to zig-zag to the left or right of the needle’s centre position – which I assume is for making button holes. Their simplicity and durability really appeals to me.



Thursday late afternoon I was sitting with some other artists in the studio/workshop in the new (artists’) club-house in Uppsala having just helped with the move from the old club-house when my telephone rang. It is unusual that I had the volume switched on and at first I did not think that it was my phone – a process of elimination performed by the others quickly identified that it was my phone, and the screen told me that a London number was calling. It was Michael Petry, of MOCA London, he had an almost last minute problem to resolve – one of the artists booked for MOCA’s first online private view had been forced to drop out – did I have a short film or performance that I could present on Saturday afternoon? It just so happens that I do as I recently made my first digital film piece to enter this year’s online Enköping Open. So this afternoon at 5pm UK time, or 18:00 Swedish time, I will one of six international artists presenting work to an audience from the UK, Europe and America. I am excited to take part and delighted that Michael and Roberto thought of me. We tested the technology yesterday afternoon and the piece looks good. I had to adjust the sound levels as neither Michael nor Roberto could hear the ambient sound track. Now that is fixed and almost everything is in place for the presentation. Having seen the Zoom view of my apartment I have decided to turn my desk ninety-degrees anticlockwise to so the background is bookshelves rather than the unattractive and dated beige wallpaper that I saw behind me yesterday – I have yet to decorate the living room!



On my run this morning I found myself thinking about the large street-facing window of the gallery where I will be showing later this year. The gallery is at a traffic-light controlled crossing, the pavement is particularly narrow in front of the gallery, and the window is relatively low: these factors together with Sweden’s dark winter days and poor weather have made me wonder about temporarily boxing in the window. This would prevent my show being illuminated by the traffic lights and car headlights, and reduced the visual noise in the gallery.

If I do box in the window – make it a ’display window’ rather than a window into the gallery – what do I put on display?

Within the space of a few strides ideas shifted from a glittery homage to one of Eugène Jansson’s blue paintings to a photo-homage to one of his ’athlete’ paintings. Last autumn I was developing a performance which took inspiration from both Eugène’s paintings and my own experience of fitness training. Looking at a reproduction of a particular painting (that I had recently seen again whilst in Stockholm for Pride that summer) I noticed the similarity between the interior in the painting and the interior of the Glitter Ball showroom. I took some test photo’s but when the performance was postponed due to illness the image(s) got put on ice. That photograph could be something for the window.

Running back I had the fun thought to wear my Aviator sunglasses, leather cap and boots in the photo. It would be a nod to Tom of Finland – not that I have such a muscular physique! The idea of adding another gay reference – still historical, but more recent – is appealing and hopefully playful. If I can pull it off then the image would be great for the poster!


Showering after my run my thoughts turned to the proposed title of the show – Transformer*. Of course I should look at, and listen to, Lou Reed’s album of the same name. It is already a favourite of mine. And that’s when it struck me that ’Walk on the Wild Side’ is one of the tracks. Walk on the Wild Side was also Peter Lang’s research course** that I took at the Royal Institute of Art in 2014/15– the course where I started ’Following Eugène’. It seems as though everything is starting to come together.



* I chose this as the title thinking about the artist and the athlete transforming materials and bodies from one thing to another. As well as for it’s potential ’Swenglish’ interpretation. In Swedish ’former’ is the plural of ’form’ (anything with shape) and trans inferring between or ’en-route’. I see myself as a ’transformer’ (English definition) that is I see myself as someone making transformations to materials. And in Swedish I see the things that I make as ’transformer’ – that is shapes/objects that are neither one thing nor another, they are something in between. Listening to an online conversation about how the American food and beverage industry might recover and re-shape itself the correspondents spoke of intersectionality.

** Professor Peter Lang used song titles for his Theory and History of Architecture courses

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Although there is no lockdown in Sweden it still feels a bit strange to be going to an actual meeting this afternoon. Uppsala Artists’ Club committee has a planning day. Under normal circumstances I would be looking forward to such an event – a chance to discuss things, explore ideas, and dream up new and exciting ways of doing things. I am sure that it will still be all of that but it feels a bit wrong – perhaps a bit ’careless’ – to be getting in the car and going somewhere to meet people that I do not know. I have baked a cake to take with me, should I be encouraging/tempting people to share food? Will we have to wash the knife between taking each slice?

Our discussions include a revised autumn schedule. I was disappointed to read the proposal and see that my own show has been bumped from early November to December. It feels completely meaningless to have a show in December here – everyone is far too busy with Christmas in one way or another. Perhaps I would feel different if I made more easily commercial work, people might pop along to buy a present. However I do not make work that anyone buys, and the pieces that I am planning to make and show are far from commercial. I hope that I can swap my exhibition period with an artist who wants to tap in to the Christmas market!

After the last committee meeting and agreeing today’s planning day, the Arts Association in Enköping sent out a call to an extra committee meeting scheduled for exactly the same time. I hope that this is just a fluke and not a sign of things to come – I really want to be active on both committees. It feels important to stay on the committee in Enköping even though I have to be honest and say that I find it intimidating (?) to suggest news ways of doing things when I have neither the time nor the connections to push developments that I think need to be made for the long-term survival of the association. Our committee meetings there are rarely discursive – they follow a typically Swedish fixed agenda of re-viewing the previous meeting’s minutes and re-iterating monthly fixtures that almost inevitably precludes any possibility of forward planning or long-term thinking. I am not sure that my Swedish language skills are up to suggesting a radical overall of our meetings but I might have to try!



The Artists’ Club meeting was very good, also very long – six hours! I have a lot to learn about the club and its history – both distant and more recent. It seems that I am part of a committee that has been challenged to find new ways of doing things and make the club more relevant and contemporary. This coincides with, or is perhaps part of, the club relocating its premises from one side of courtyard to another. Uppsala city council, which owns the whole ’historic quarter’ has recently refurbished and relocated the artists’ club, the writers’ association, and their own activities and everyone is now settling in to their new homes after weeks of delays.

I together with another artist (who has been on the committee for at least a year) are the ’education and public programme’ team. It is the first time that the club has assigned committee members different areas of responsibility. I am looking forward getting on with this, first I am going to find out what is already planned – I know there are some children’s workshops scheduled – and then I want to find out what has been tried in the past – there’s no point in repeating past mistakes! Of the committees that I am on this certainly feels to be the most active and engaging, and that is exciting.

During the week I spoke with an artist friend in London. She too works with education programmes and we spoke about distance and digital ways of working. She finds it impossible to imagine a future delivering workshops remotely, her long career has always focused on the immediacy and intimacy of materials, making, talking, sharing. While I am intrigued by the potential to engage people via videos, web-chats, and on-line projects I understand her concerns and recognise that mediated experiences are very different from what we are both used to.
As our discussion unfolded and expanded I found myself edging around an existential question concerning my own practice. If openings and artists’ talks and workshops cannot be the crowded buzzy events that they once were, if people are less likely to visit galleries and museums, if people remain anxious about making new connections, then I am interested in still being an artist?

On Tuesday evening I sent in my entry for this year’s digital Enköping Open exhibition. While it was quite good fun making a short film from footage of Lek (an installation made for the exhibition at Källör last year) it is not a way of working that I find artistically satisfying. My practice is about the encounter with material. I love working with material(s) in the studio and I love presenting material(s) in exhibition. I love being in a room full of people all chattering away, I love hugging old friends and I love shaking hands with new acquaintances. If these things are no longer viable what does it mean for me?

Are my turning up at the studio and making things acts of resistance or denial? Are they fool-hardiness or comforting. For the time being they feel necessary, they are probably a mix of resistance, denial, fool-hardiness and comfort, and perhaps none the worse for that. I am aware though that it feels that I am doing these things more for myself than for any imagined audience.




Wednesday afternoon and a good deal of Thursday morning were spend wrestling with the seams of a particularly persistent shirt. It is one that I recently found in a box of various material, I am pretty sure that I bought it in London (more than likely before I moved to Sweden). I had already taken the label out so I do not know who made it, with its tidy rows of tiny tight stitches I assume that it originally came for a good quality shirtmaker. This was confirmed when I finally got to pressing the pair of front sections – under the heat of my old stream-iron the fabric took on qualities of smoothness that I cannot describe, needless to say running my fingers across the cotton was sheer pleasure.

Spending so long unpicking almost every stitch individually is rather meditative. I need to stay focussed so as not to accidentally tear the fabric folded around itself and up to three layers folded into the joint between the front, back, and arm. The stitches are so small and tense that it’s difficult to wiggle the point of the ’quick-unpick’ between fabric and thread. Tackling the seams where the front joins both the yoke and the collar (with its stiffened interface causing its own challenges) is easier on one side than the other. I realise that it has to do with the angle and direction that I work with the quick unpick in my right hand. As an experiment I try holding the quick unpick in my left hand when it comes to the trickier side. I am surprised, and pleased, to discover that I am able to work left-handed! It’s a bit slower but far easier, and I enjoyed training-up my ambidextrousness.

I have been intrigued by left-handedness for a long time. My father is left-handed and I remember being disappointed and a little confused when I learnt that being left-handed is a dominant gene* that I ’should have’ inherited (similarly his brown eyes). In the first term at Dartington we had sessions in freeing our drawing skills, one of which was drawing simultaneously with both hands – my symmetrical pattern was even and well balanced. Several years ago I began occasionally using my left hand to brush my teeth and then regularly to stir my porridge (not at the same time), and more recently I have been whipping cream left-handed with not too messy a results.
I am intrigued by the potential to be ambidextrous, there is something appealing about the balance that is suggests. Does it have anything to do with my practice? Perhaps it will enable me to work more efficiently with more than just an awkward stitch or two.
I think we might have received an over-simplified summary of complex inheritance patterns concerning left-handedness in our year eight biology class.


Another artist at the studios popped in on Wednesday to say hello after not having been there for a while. He saw my collection of ties on the table and offered his that he “will never wear again.” On Thursday a handsome bag of ties was waiting for me. There are certainly some that fit with my current work, the question though is what to do with those that do not.
Drawing-out the ties one by one eventually revealed two bow-ties, one a splendid 70s/80s creation in black dark rose and white polyester. That particular tie touched something in me. It spoke of parties and dances, of getting dressed up and going out, of spending time with friends and family. For a brief moment I almost caught a glimpse of someone else’s life.