I realise that reflecting on this particular past year focusses very much on what has been happening for and to me. Living and working (for the most) in a small town during a pandemic my focus has been rather limited. Sweden has not endured the lockdowns placed on most if not all other European countries, the virus has however been felt across all aspects of life here too. I have not travelled or collaborated as I would have liked to have done, nor have I visited the museums, exhibitions and events that I had imagined. And while this might sound as though it would provide ample time for investigating all the online offerings, learning new skills, or even reading the many unopened books on my bookshelves, I have to acknowledge that adapting to new ways of working as well as the ongoing re-thinking and re-scheduling of programmes both at work and with numerous artists’ groups has resulted in my own practice and range of operation becoming more insular than I would like.
There have of course been a good many positive and enjoyable things from the past twelve months, and almost inevitably a good many dreams for the future!
Highlights of the year:
Under the Same Rainbow
Working on the LGBTQ+ project and exhibition was certainly a highlight. From the moment Mikaela (at the public art department of Uppsala city council) rang to ask if I would like to be involved this has been a truly wonderful, inspiring, and at times challenging experience. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with both the S.A.G.A. youth group and the public art team, as well as Uppsala art museum. I really can not imagine a project more suited to my interests and ambitions.
Under the Same Rainbow: new acquisitions and artworks from the collections of Uppsala Council, Uppsala Region, and Uppsala Art Museum selected by the S.A.G.A. youth group continues through to 21 February 2021 at Uppsala Art Museum. Free admission, wheelchair accessible.
Uppsala Artists’ Club – committee
I have really enjoyed getting to know the other committee members and beginning to work with them to affect some much needed change at this venerable institution. Many of our initial ideas were thwarted by the arrival of the corona virus, however we have taken the opportunity to do a great deal of ground work that I am sure puts us in a very good position, and we have probably avoided making some less than successful attempts at launching new ideas and programmes too soon.
I am delighted to be among such a passionate and committed group of artists some of whom I am sure will become good friends.
Uppsala Artists’ Club
Uppsala Artists’ Club Facebook
Surprises of the year:
A là Maud
Back in the spring I received an email from Maud Karlsson saying how pleased she was to have found my website and would I please let her know of upcoming shows and events. A few weeks later she was one of a very modest audience (news of covid-19 was just breaking) at an artist’s talk I arranged for Roberto Ekholm who was exhibiting at Glitter Ball. The evening went very well and Roberto’s presentation sparked engaging conversations. Not long after that Maud got in touch again and asked if I was interested in being a guest on her live/performance chat-show that she stages at Uppsala’s concert and conference centre. We had a great time when Maud visited my studio and we planned what I would do for her ’Bubbles & Bakes’ autumn show. Unfortunately a tightening of covid-19 restrictions in Uppsala county meant postponing until spring ’21.
Bubbles & Bakes at Uppsala Concert and Conference Centre
It was a fantastic surprise to hear from Roxane this summer. Roxane was my history and theory tutor at Southend Technical College where I took my art foundation course (1986-87). I don’t know where, or even who, I would be today if I had not met Roxane in Southend. It was Roxane who introduced me to politically and socially engaged practice, and who told me about the Art & Social Context course at Dartington – she was short-listed for the position that Sheila Clayton got. Sheila was my tutor and become a very good friend. I lost touch with Roxane while I was at Dartington but became reacquainted with her several years later. If I remember correctly Vikki, a friend I made at Dartington, met Roxane at Camden Art Centre and they became friends. When I moved from Edinburgh to London (1995) I spent a great deal of time with Vikki, and if I didn’t meet Roxane at that time I certainly heard a lot about her. When Vikki died in 1997 she left money for an artist’s travel award – I was on the selection panel along with both Roxane and Sheila. I think that Roxane was already on her way to Shetland at that time so we spoke on the phone and had contact via the post (email was relatively uncommon back then). Fast forward to summer 2020 and Roxane ’stumbles’ across me on Facebook. This last week we have been messaging each other and lamenting the lack of snow on Shetland and in Sweden.
In early November I got what I initially thought was spam email – it was not. It was in fact a very genuine and rather surprising request for my permission to reproduce an artwork of mine on an arts website. Art UK are digitising artworks held by institutions and museums, they are ’the online home for every public art collection in the UK’ and their website ’represents a collaboration between over 3,300 British institutions.’ One of which is the Ben Uri London Museum of Jewish Art who have a piece by me in their collection. I cannot imagine who many other artists have received identical emails, nevertheless it felt great to be contacted. Of course I granted permission (with certain caveats – non-commercial use, appropriate credit etc). I am very excited to see what happens with Art UK is certainly sounds like a fantastic idea – making so much available for learning, research, and enjoyment.
Intentions, ambitions, and plans for the coming year:
Solo show in Uppsala: I hope to be able to present the show that should have opened at the Artists’ Club on 16 January later in the year. The club’s two galleries are closed until at least 24 January 2021 which means re-scheduling the exhibition. It is tricky as the 2021 calendar is already full so it might have to be early 2022!
Supermarket Independent Art Fair Stockholm will take place in October next year. Usually it happens in April however a later date seems a good idea under the circumstances. A full scale fair is planned and it will be my first time running a full Meetings programme, which I am looking forward to. This years ’local’ version of the fair featuring mostly Stockholm based artists’-initiatives was a good introduction to the delights and challenges of being the Meetings co-ordinator.
Exhibitions, commissions and projects: having participated in several online courses and workshops this year I feel far better equipped to approach galleries and exhibition venues, as well as beginning to understand how public commissions and projects work here. I have already drawn up a list of potential places to show and will join some artists’ networks so that I get to hear about upcoming opportunities.
Study/research trip: postponed from last summer, I plan to spend a couple of weeks this summer in southern Sweden visiting museums, sculpture parks, galleries, and some of the artists’-initiatives that I have met through the Supermarket Art Fair,
An overarching intention, ambition, and plan for 2021 is to spend more time playing at the studio – a bit less thinking and lot more doing would be good fun. I have made some progress with this way of working during the last year. And I am indebted to Cajsa Von Zeipel who, by means of her 2018 summer radio show (which I listened to this year) inspired me to make a sign that now hangs prominently in my studio and to which I refer when momentarily questioning what I am doing and/or why I am doing it. The sign simply states:
det har med konst att göra / it is about art