Here’s something I’ve never done before … it’s link to Glitter Ball‘s summer project: an Open Call for an online artists’ postcard show.

All a-n readers are very welcome to send a post card.  I have already received postcards form artists in both Sweden and the UK.  And as the call says – feel free to let other artists and friends know about it too!




Monday: Erika and I will be showing in the adjacent galleries at Uppsala Artists’ Club in January. Earlier in the summer we exchanged a few emails and on Monday afternoon we met up for a chat. We had met at least once before at one of the planning workshops that the club held last year, there’s even the chance that we met once in Enköping when Erika came to see a friend’s show at the gallery here. We found a nice cool spot by a shaded window looking over the inner courtyard of one of Uppsala’s oldest coffee shops.

And so it was that we found ourselves chatting about our mid-winter shows on one of the summer’s hottest days. With the seasons being so distinct here starting our discussion about the difference between the current heatwave and how it might be in January was a natural way for us to begin. Erika immediately came across as a sensitive and intelligent woman quietly passionate about her practice and her teaching. I worry that my more overt enthusiasm sometimes gets the better of me and I made a conscious effort to speak slowly and in full sentences. My habit of running away with new ideas mid flow is tricky enough for people to follow in English, I really can’t imagine how it sounds in Swedish! I think Erika was a positive influence on me and our conversation found an even pace with time for both of us to talk through our initial thoughts and ideas.

We are quite different to each other and I think that this will be an advantage when showing so close to each other. I already have definite ideas about what I want to show though this could change considerably over the coming months. Erika listened intently as I spoke about my interest in Eugène Jansson and my recently finding out that he first exhibited his male nudes in Uppsala. Erika’s previous exhibition at the club’s gallery was inspired by water, and if I understood correctly nature and natural phenomenon interest her, though she is not yet thinking too much about what she will show in January. She currently has a large sculptural piece temporarily installed outside close to a former saw mill that is now a crafts and cultural centre a little out of the city.

I needn’t have been anxious about broaching the subject of which of the galleries we will show in. Erika raised the subject and in the same breath said that was interested in the gallery recently created in the total renovation and repurposing of the building. This is perfect as I have been imagining showing in the old (but also refurbished) gallery space. The space will be a challenge for me as it is not ’easy’ – in the ceiling large old wood beams vie for attention with an oversize modern ventilation system, and there is a dramatic change of floor level effectively dividing the room in two. I hope that I will become more familiar with the room over the coming months and I look forward to working out to use it to the best result. Do I have the courage of my convictions for that street facing window?

There are a few practical things that we wonder about, some we will take up with Bookings & Venues group, some we think we will work out by seeing how the exhibitions go this autumn.

I left our meeting feeling very upbeat and excited. I hope Erika felt similarly.

Monday continued with another meeting – mid-to-late August is possibly Sweden’s most intense meeting season. With Swedes traditionally having somewhere between four and six weeks of holiday over the summer almost all workplaces, clubs, societies, and associations feel the need to re-group as soon as everyone’s children and/or grandchildren are back at school. My second evening meeting (I had already had two if not three meetings during the working day) thankfully demanded attention rather than active input. Johanna reported on the regional Art Association’s much appreciated summer activities for children, updated us on the association’s successful funding applications and on-going projects, and presented a thorough (and pleasing) economic summary. It was a good and succinct meeting, I think that after such a hot day everyone was keen to get home. I noticed how the sunny was beginning to set before I made back to Enköping – it is definitely late summer.


Wednesday (evening): Enköping’s Art Association meeting. Next Saturday we re-open the gallery after closing it in late March in line with the council’s response to national Covid19 advice. I am learning to live with the disparity of being told the guidelines issued by the government in spring still apply and at the same time that we can and should be opening things that were closed because of those guidelines. I am in two minds as to go to the vernissage or not. The three rooms that make up the gallery are not particularly large, in fact the second of them is particularly small. Nor are the doorways between the rooms wide enough to allow social distancing and a one way system is not viable. I have no idea how many people will be there. Are people desperate for art and culture after almost six months without any? Or have they gotten used to the idea of not visiting galleries, preferring digital and remote experiences?

As we worked through the agenda items I made several suggestions for how we might make other events in our autumn programme more suitable in the light of the corona virus. I think (fear?) that the long summer break has made people more desperate for a return to the old normal and more forgetful of the new normal – a bad combination in my mind.


Thursday: I send out the Meetings programme information to the galleries and artist-run initiatives participating in Superlocal – our small but perfectly formed local art fair for local artists. I still have not resolved the exact room where the meetings will take place but the venue is confirmed, so are the meeting moderators and the topics/themes. I am very pleased to have this gentle introduction to being the Meetings coordinator. Even on this much reduced scale I am learning a lot. It feels manageable and everything that I am learning will really help when things are (hopefully) operating at full international capacity again next year.

One thing that concerns me is the use of words ’cosy’ and ’friendly’ to describe two of the potential meeting rooms. Those adjectives – that to me imply ’small’ – seem quite inappropriate at the moment. I would happy to hear that the rooms are ’cavernous’ or ’sweeping’. I have downloaded and printed out a pattern for a fabric mask. This morning (Friday) I saw a local headline that masks might be recommended in Sweden.


Friday: I spend the day preparing for a workshop that I am running in conjunction with the Inner & Outer Journey exhibition. The show is this year’s Art Takes Place event, last year I exhibited at Källör so nice to be involved in this year’s programme in a different way.

Making a couple of examples of fantasy ’travelships’* from bits found on a quick scavenger hunt around the park by the studio was good fun. I should do things like more often – just play and be creative without too much thinking, or rather think about what the materials offer visually and physically, and see what happens when they are in my hands.


*I might have made up the word but it is so much nicer (more poetic?) than ’vehicles’.



Wednesday: I set off for Uppsala with enough time to see Alvar Campo’s installation at the museum (and pick-up the second light and tripod) before the committee meeting at the artists’ club.

The Observatory (part 1) The Measure of Change, Alvar Campo, 2020

The installation is in the courtyard in front of the museum. It is (I later found out) a compromised version of the original proposal – perhaps that is why it is ’part 1’. On the hour a fine mist is released from a series of poles creating rainbows over a pond and between banks of colourful flowers. When I read the press release about the piece it reminded me of my idea for a proposal to Norrtälje’s annual outdoor exhibition which also features manufactured rainbows. In addition to the outdoor installation Campo was also showing a model of the full project and several other pieces in one of the museum’s ground floor galleries.

Two other of his works immediately resonated with me. One was a video of a portable projector screen that captured the play of light falling through trees in a forest. Earlier in the week I had mentioned to a work colleague that I had a number of similar screens and that one day they would become some kind of installation. I cannot remember how it came up in our conversation at work but seeing Campo’s untitled (cinema vérité) gave me pause to think about synchronicity. The second work The Archive (in two parts) invited visitors to make patterns with compost in clear acrylic trays on an over-head projector (the resultant image displayed on another collapsable screen). Many years ago I showed a work where people were invited to stir plant specimens floating in a tray of water on an over-head projector. It’s a piece that I had forgotten about until seeing some of those same materials in a very similar situation.

I noticed a woman sitting on a bench in the gallery, she was writing in an orange notebook. She finished her writing, closed the notebook and stood up. As she did so a man entered the gallery – it was the artist, he had been pointed out to me earlier by the museum director who I had met on my way across the courtyard. By chance I was sufficiently close to the woman to be included in the welcoming ’hello’ that Alvar beamed towards us – it transpired that he thought that we knew each other. After clarifying the situation and short introductions the three of us began what turned out to be very interesting and wide ranging conversation about Alvar’s work, artistic processes, and the challenges of finding a good studio. The other artist – Anna – was visiting from Stockholm but was familiar with Uppsala and even Enköping as she grew up in Västerås (a city the other side of Enköping). We must have chatted for about 45 minutes, suddenly it was four o’clock and my last chance to see a rainbow before having to leave for the committee meeting. Alvar accompanied me outside and with what must have looked like very peculiar movements to anyone watching we searched, crouched, and stretched for the best vantage points to appreciate the rainbows.

A few minutes later Anna joined us along with her friend Natasha who already I knew both as a member of the Haka artists’ group and as the education officer at Uppsala Art Museum. After a summer in ’sleepy’ Enköping it felt great to find myself in the company of other artists and enjoying the exchange of ideas and stories as well as catching up on those small everyday details of life. Walking alone across town towards the artists’ club I felt a kind of comfort and belonging that is a little too rare in my life. But then I guess that I am far from alone in missing these interactions(?) in the current conditions. The problem (’challenge’?) for me is that I was already rather socially and artistically isolated even prior to the coronavirus. Not surprisingly I found myself re-running the pros and cons of moving to Uppsala … of moving to anywhere with an active arts scene.

Friday: I spend the morning finalising the Meetings programme for SUPERLOCAL – the local version the Supermarket Art Fair. One of the meetings questions is who are artists’ initiatives are really for? Two meetings tackle issues arising from the corona pandemic, and one engages with the artist’s role and the politics of representation. In the afternoon I work on the Uppsala artists’ club’s activity (’business’?) plan for 2021.

Saturday: Toward the end of one of our regular lengthy Skype chats a very good friend made a good suggestion for an alternative kind of Glitter Ball activity. I had been expressing my frustration and disappointment at being unable to see how to precede with a programme that is meaningful (and achievable) for both me and the participating artist(s). Kim’s suggestion was artists’ dinners – revised to artists’ lunches to recognise my preference for daytime events.

The Covid19 guidelines issued by Sweden’s national health authority in the spring remain the same for the foreseeable future. Paramount is social distancing specially indoors, and this makes it impossible to run events in a room of less than six square meters. If the exhibiting artist and I are in the space then we can only welcome one other person to join us. While this might offer a truly exciting and intimate encounter in some galleries it seems wholly inappropriate for Glitter Ball. Glitter Ball’s visitors tend to be groups of the artist’s friends, and/or the artist’s family, who have made their way to Enköping, and older couples who I know through the town’s Art Association. Even if I were to offer these distinct groups the option to book viewings on the day that should have been the opening party I don’t have the time to do the necessary administration. If I stand at the door and implement a simple one in one out policy not only do I miss out on being involved but I create a potentially far from relaxed situation for both the artist and the visitor.

I am going to give the Glitter Ball Lunch idea some thought. There are so many things to think about, not least that the lunch would have to be somewhere other than the showroom. I am not certain that doing it in my apartment is viable either.

The question of who I am running Glitter Ball for rings loud in my ears …


Thursday and Friday afternoon were spent (re)photographing old artworks that I had either documented poorly or not at all. The photographs are definitely better than those that they replace though I am sure that could still be better.


I made the conscious decision to enjoy the process – to take my time, and not be too hard on myself. I am an artist rather than a photographer. Some of the work was from 2007/8, some from 2018. I had not intended to photograph the 2007/8 work, I found them while searching for something else and it seemed appropriate to document them too. The pieces in question are a series, perhaps two related series, of small sculptures constructed from disposable papier-mâché urine bottles. I remember being fascinated by the form of the bottles when I came across them in the toilets at King’s College Hospital, London. These were the early days of John’s MND and a period where we seemed to make weekly trips to King’s for various consultations, tests, and discussions. Those strange grey bottles with their tactile soft surface, their almost biomorphic shape – their duck-like bodies, their thick reaching necks, their round open mouths, seemed to be easy sculptural ready-mades. They were (are) obviously related to the grand-daddy of ready-mades – Duchamp’s Urinal. The disposable bottles speak of a vulnerable (injured?) masculinity. The bottles are the antithesis of machoism.



Looking at the bottles yesterday – some glittered, some conjoined – I was struck at how appealing the form and ideas remain. Was I looking at sketches for as yet unresolved unfinished work? Until yesterday I had rarely given these works a second thought since packing them after including them in the Open House show for m2 gallery/Quay House (2009). The painted pieces are a more than a little dusty, or perhaps poorly painted in the first place, and one of the glittered pieces is evidence of my very early attempts at working with that fantastic sparkling material. Now I am wondering if, after a gap of more than ten years, it might be interesting (fun?!?) to re-engage with that work. I would like to push the ideas further than I did before. I think that after such a long hiatus my relation to the bottles would be more abstract, they would not necessarily be autobiographical or overly melancholic(?) – they could be formal perhaps even fun and frivolous. It crossed my mind that I could even play with the material – why not produce a bronze version!?!


This summer I have found myself thinking about my practice in new ways – both more fun and more professional. Thirty years since graduating from Dartington, twenty-two years since finishing at the Slade, thirteen years since John died, nine years since moving to Sweden, and five years since settling in Enköping I am perhaps on the cusp of reaching a certain maturity and confidence that might be very good for me.


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There is something very appealing about the idea of having my own studio. I mean a studio that I do not share with someone. It would be great to have a creative space where I don’t have to think about anyone else’s access or activities. As I have mentioned before it is rare that Klas and I are at the studio at the same time, and when he popped in ’just to pick something up’ on Thursday we had a really enjoyable, interesting, and inspiring chat, so it’s not that there is a problem per se. It’s more a collection of small niggles that irritate me: having to pack up and cover everything before I leave just in case Klas does something dust producing before my return, having to make sure that a path though the space is clear so that both Klas and Ola can easily access the ’temporary’ electrical outlets, being aware of another artist’s work or evidence of their process – it is like some kind of mild but constant visual disturbance (I realise how ’precious’ that sounds)!


Sometimes I’d like to take a nap at the studio but I am too self conscious about someone, not just Klas or Ola but any of the artists at the studio wandering in and finding me asleep. It is this last realisation that makes me acutely aware that I am not fully myself in the studio – and that is not a good thing. I want a space where I can be fully myself and that, rightly or wrongly, is more than likely in a room of my own.


The question is how to achieve this room. One way would be to renegotiate how Klas and I share our space. Currently we have a shared ’clean’ space and a shared workshop or ’dirty’ space. Although I have used the dirty space in the past I spend most of my time on the clean side, Klas (as far I as I can see) does the opposite. Could we simply have a space each rather than sharing both? Ideally I would like to take over the dirty space: it is furtherest in and therefore no one would need access, I could make it entirely as I want. I would have to walk through Klas’ space and potentially drag a little saw dust into my studio (Klas primarily works in wood and has amassed a fair collection of woodwork tools and machines). Ola, who accesses his studio through our current clean space, might not be so keen to have a wood workshop adjoining his photo studio. I wish I could not worry about that but I do.


And so I find myself caught between wanted to speak with Klas about re-configuring the spaces that we currently share, and not wanting to make things difficult for another artist.


It would be lovely though to have the ability to open and close the studio door as I choose. I think that being able to do that would make a significant difference to my practice. It feels like a necessary step … it feels as though it would be beneficial.


Writing this I begin to wonder if there might be something symbolic about having a room of my own. Might it be a declaration to myself about my seriousness … an acknowledgement of my needs (be they rational or not)?


With the ’autumn term’ fast approaching it feels as though it is a good time to at least raise the question with Klas. As my grandmother used to say, though about something else entirely(!) “better out than in” – I shall get this idea of a room of my own out of my head and start by talking it through with Klas.



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