Today is Mother’s Day in Sweden. In the week I made a card to send to my mother. Specifically I drew a card for my mother. I cannot remember the last time that I ’simply’ drew what was in front of me. It was lovely taking time to do that. My drawing is very academic – certainly not what anyone would describe as expressive – it always has been, and in a way this is why I seldom draw. For whatever reason I found drawing very calming and rewarding. It might well have had something to do with the focus and immediacy it gave me. I noticed myself saying that I had lost focus on at least two occasions this week. I think that five months of doing my paid work from home have taken an unexpected toll on me. Actually a large part of it might be that I not doing my work from home – the things that I am doing are not what my job should be. My job, as I am frequently reminded by my manager, is about ’doing’, and this year there has been even less ’doing’ than there was last year. The highlight of my working week was some very simple doing – checking-off a delivery of materials to make 200 art-bags for the summer holidays. Thankfully there is some real doing on the horizon – a four-day summer school for children in the week before Midsummer. I am a bit anxious about it. It’s been over a year since I ran workshop and here I am about to jump back in with four full days! I am sure that it will be fine even if I am a bit rusty on the first morning. Everything is being done to make it as covid-safe as possible.


Another factor in my lack of focus is the number of things that I have going on at the moment. This is an important realisation and definitely something that I want to pay attention to. I have known for a while that I sit on too many committees and sub-committees, and that I am trying to operate in too many different spheres at the same time. It was really helpful to speak about this with a friend last night. My wise friend identified that I am in a period of transition – still doing what I used to do and at the same time starting to do what I want to do in the future. I am incredibly grateful for this analysis not least because it reminds me that it is not going to be like this forever!


I am a paranoid optimist … that’s not quite right but I think it’s going to take me while to work out how to neatly sum myself up so that phrase can sit for while. I am an optimist because I always think that things will be better in the future, but I am also paranoid because I think that things might turn out better when I am not involved. A case in point is the artist’s integration group that I am in. Everything points to the group being inappropriate for me, at the same time I am scared to leave in case things change and the group becomes better. I am very concerned about the show that the group is putting on this week. I have the strong feeling that it is going to be a mess, this is a feeling shared by at least one other artist in the same group with whom I am a good friend. We will find out shortly if our fears are justified! It makes sense to reserve judgement until the show is up and running. I was not involved in the previous exhibition that the group put on and I had reasons to be highly critical of how that show was organised (or not). Now I am experiencing the lack of organisation as a participant which makes things even more acute. I have to be honest with myself about how much time I can, and want, to commit to this group. If I had unlimited time I like to think that I could get more involved with the group and see if I could steer it in another direction. Realistically I do not have that time, or perhaps more accurately I do not want to risk taking time from other activities and spend it on something that may never be as I would want it. Sometimes I have problems recognising something for what it is rather than I want it to be …  I do not like to admit that things are not, nor likely to become, what I want them to be.


At the same as I enjoy doing new things, I find if difficult to let go of things. It is obvious that this results in having less and less time for more and more things. That situation is neither sustainable, pleasurable, nor useful! For this period of transition to be transitory I need to allow myself to change … and by change I mean let go.






The commute to the studio is quite pleasant (though I am aware of its environmental impact) and it seems to be becoming shorter. Obviously it is the same length, it is just that it is becoming familiar. I wonder how pleasant, or not, it will be in the winter. Should I accelerate my plans to move to Uppsala?

I am trying to reserve judgement on as much as possible until covid restrictions are less evident.

What is it about the new studio that makes me feel more professional just by being there? Professional by association … professional by context … ? The two artists whom I see and chat with regularly were also in the show in Tierp and in the regional presentations (they did not buy anything from me – which is actually a bit disappointing). I don’t know if I would dare say that we share some ambitions but there certainly seem to be areas where we a striving for similar things. Unfortunately this is not a feeling that I get with my studio-mates in Enköping. Perhaps it is as simple as that. Perhaps it has less to do with professionalism and more to do with affinity. In Uppsala I feel as though I am part of something that has a greater meaning for me.

This afternoon I showed a very nice woman one of the studios (in Enköping) that are available. She is a really nice older woman who though officially retired still does a bit of counselling work and is looking for somewhere away from home to pursue her hobby – painting. It is great that she wants to move in, and it is great that she paints, it is just that I am not sure that we will have that much in common. Again I should reserve judgement until I see her work.

Being judgemental is wrong. Is it okay to be discerning? Maybe being judgmental is not necessarily wrong … I have to make judgements, everybody has to make judgments … how I make those judgements is important. I think that I am struggling with how to make judgements at the moment. And there seem to be a lot of judgements to be made right now …

Everything is exciting and nothing is impossible … that is my default setting. This is obviously not true. However I find myself spending time doing things that actually turned out not to be so exciting or so possible, and yet for some reason I cannot admit that. Could it be egotism that prevents me from saying that I made a poor judgement? Or that judgements have best before dates. Or is it an over active (and more than likely misplaced) sense of loyalty that keeps me doing things that I should give up. Too often I wait for some external factor to make/take decisions for me. This I realise is not good.

Time to dig deep, summon up some courage, and do what needs to be done to find out if moving to Uppsala is feasible.

1 Comment


I remain convinced that I think differently under a white ceiling … or between white walls. No matter, I enjoy the feeling of light and space – no doubt enhanced by the generous distance between the studio window and the now abundantly leaved trees that turned a brilliant green over night.

Yesterday I played with the shirt collars that partner the cuffs that I had fun with last week. Again simply cleaning up the cut edge, buttoning them together, and hanging up on the wall. The collars bear the traces of their being neatly but tightly packed: a few are heavily creased others just a bit wrinkly. The shape of the collar pieces produces a more angular (?) … jagged? … vibrant? … line than that of the cuffs, and hanging there it seems more chaotic and excited than its companion piece. Both put me mind of patchwork quilts – the soft tones and textures of well worn clothes, the sometimes odd contrasts of colours and patterns, the repetitive yet distinct forms.

As they are now the pieces are about 2 meters 50 by 90 centimeters. I have used a little under one-third of all that I have. I am interested to see what happens if I continue and each piece becomes as wide as it is high. This is not what I thought I would be doing with the material. And I am actively having to stop myself from saying that this is not art.


Today I looked through some older work: work from 2005/06. I was in search of pieces that might appeal to an art association buying for their members’ lottery. On Tuesday Uppsala hospital’s art association’s management committee are coming to the studios and all of us here have been invited to present work that could be of interest. Another first for me! It is interesting trying to imagine what might appeal to art appreciative nurse or doctor. The challenge is not as daunting as it could be as I went on a guided tour of new commissions permanently installed in the extensive new hospital buildings. I do not know if the art association were directly involved in the commissions but I do know that they encounter a wide range of contemporary artworks in their everyday professional environment. I also know that as members of Sweden’s national art association organisation the management committee each receive a quarterly arts magazine (it is the same magazine that I get because I am on the art association committee in Enköping). It is somehow reassuring to know that if they do not buy from me it is because they do not like my work rather than them not knowing about contemporary practice: an informed rejection – if you will!

Work place art associations were once very common in Sweden. Enköping’s art association started at the Bahco adjustable spanner factory in 1944, and it was only a few years ago that Enköping council employees wound-up their own art association. Many of these associations were formed after the second world war when Sweden transformed itself, and employers both national and private actively engaged with offering their employees extracurricular opportunities – often but not exclusively cultural or sporting. It can be seen as a legacy of Dr Westerlund’s whole person approach to health: employers invested in numerous associations and sometimes even went as far as building holiday villages, they of course reaped the benefits of having happy healthy employees.

That said, I have made a selection of older embroidery pieces that I shall wash and press over the weekend. It will be nice to see them up on a wall again after fourteen or so years in storage. If I have time I might make one or two new pieces (not embroideries) based on an idea that I had on my residency at WIP in 2009.






A day at the new studio* playing with some of the shirt cuffs that Elena Thomas sent to me last year (two years ago?) made real the possibilities of working differently there. The clean space, the good lighting, and the white wall that I can easily pin things to all contributed to me finishing the day feeling that maybe something was starting to happen. I had unpacked the cuffs at the old studio but had not come so long with them. What I had made in Enköping was tight and small – quite different to the large and loose ’thing’ that developed in Uppsala. Working in the high ceilinged bright light clean sparsely furnished room gave the work the opportunity to expand … gave me the opportunity to expand – site specificity? It is interesting to wonder if having a ’white cube’ studio might result in work that suits a ’white cube’ gallery. I was brought up to be at least critical of white cube galleries with their inherent commercial interests, elitist agendas, and less than ’art for all’ accessibility. Though even while studying at Dartington (87 – 90) I questioned whether the ’white cube’ was in itself the problem. I am still wrestling with this!


Looking at my playful creation in its white cube gave me the possibility to see it as an object in its own right. It was as though it demonstrated an authority – it claimed space.



*how long can I call it the new studio? … the Uppsala Studio? Studio B? Studio UA (abbreviation of Uppsala)

1 Comment

April passed in somewhat of a blur. It concluded with a very pleasant low-key and covid responsible opening of Mr Dandy Blue’s Lepidopterarium in Flat Octopus’ Exhibition Case.


It was really nice to meet people in person after months of online events. And it was really really nice to get such a positive response to the work. I have to say that it looks very good – the professional vitrine lends it an elegance and, for want of a better expression, showcases it perfectly.


Yesterday was also the last day of the wonderful Elena Thomas’ online exhibition Drawn In for Glitter Ball showroom & projects. Elena is the first artist to have an entirely digital show with Glitter Ball and I am pleased to say that it worked well – especially Elena’s songs which have received a lot of attention.  If you have not already checked them out then pop over to Glitter Ball’s website where you can still find the link to Elena’s Soundcloud playlist and her online show.  Thank you too to Sarah Goudie for her great review which you can read here on


Yesterday was, I am sure, a day marked in most Swedish artists’ diaries (and the diaries of other artists working in Sweden). Midnight was the deadline for proposing new acquisitions to Moderna Museet – the equivalent of Tate. In an unprecedented move Moderna have invited artists, curators, and galleries to submit a portfolio of five works in an Open Call. The museum has been given an additional 25 million kronor* to buy art as part of the government’s artists’ support scheme during the covid pandemic (*about two millions pounds). This opportunity was the subject of much conversation last night – a few artists admitting that they were going to be applying later that evening and wondering what prices they should put on their work. I think pricing is always a complex question for artists (unless your Hirst or Emin!), even more so when the potential buyer is significant international institution with a sudden windfall. Of course we all want to be well remunerated for our work: the hours we put in, the materials, our skills, our imagination. But then there are also those non-financial rewards of being certain collections. From the little I know of the commercial gallery scene I understand that one of the gallerist’s skills is negotiating the ’right’ price for an artwork – getting an artist into an important museum might mean offering an attractive price. A good gallerist would know what kind of price an artist could expect – pricing is another challenge facing those of use not used to the commercial scene.


On Wednesday I and several other artists I know presented our work to another panel (committee?) charged with buying work. Regional councils have also received additional finances and also made an open call to artists working in, or with a connection to, the county. It was the first time that I have ever made such a presentation: I had fifteen minutes to speak about the portfolio of five works that I had submitted. It was conducted via the share screen feature of Teams – not that it was my screen that was shared rather one of the selection panel who I had to ask for ’the next slide please’. I was really pleased to see one familiar face among the four panelists who had their cameras on – I was aware that there were several more participants whom I could not see – I do not know how many more as I was too focussed and busy with my presentation to have time to call up the participant list. We had been told that the presentations would be accessible by curators and other arts professionals as well as the committee responsible for purchasing work for Uppsala county. The thinking was that presenting to a larger audience could result in an artist being contacted by another county, museum, or public art consultant. It is a great idea but made me more nervous that I already was. The fifteen minutes went very quickly and I was very pleased that I had made a note of how many minutes to spend on each work along with those key things to mention. Of course there are always other things that could have been said, or things that could have been said differently, especially as I make work that has multiple points of engagement, but I felt that I had gotten the main points across. Now it is just to wait to hear if Uppsala want to buy something!


Sweden’s Public Art Agency (Statens Konstråd) also received extra funding and also made an open call to artists … This agency operates nationally and has it’s own collection of artworks available for public exhibition and long-term placement in public buildings. It was also commissions specific public art projects. On Monday I found out that they selected one of the five works I proposed to them. I had to read the email several times to make sure that I had understood it correctly! It is really exciting and means a huge amount to me to be in a national collection – I still cannot quite believe that something that I made now belongs to Sweden!


The news of being bought by Statens Konstråd was perhaps even more unexpected as it came only a couple of weeks after Louise (arts officer for Tierp) asking to buy Eugènes ringar for the council’s collection. It seemed just too unlikely that I should sell two pieces within weeks of each other – especially as until then I had never sold a single work. Selling to Tierp will always be my first ever sale and will therefore always have a very special place in heart.


My artistic identity at the end of April is not what it was at the beginning of April: I am now an artist who has sold work, and more than that I am now an artist who has work in a local and a national Swedish collection! I really cannot describe what this means to me, I can say that it feels as though I have achieved two very significant goals – goals that I barely dared to name in case that I never achieved them. Thank you Louise, and thank you Statens Konstråd!



1 Comment