What a difference a week, or two, makes! As if I needed reassurance that I enjoy hands-on doing the four day ’art camp’ (non-residential!) and five days of distributing ’art-bags’ demonstrated to me just how detrimental six months of computer-based working from has been for me.
In addition I also realised just how much my paid employment affects my own practice. Or perhaps more accurately how much how I feel about my paid employment affects my own practice. Without being conscious of it six months of working in a way that does not suit me has had a significant impact on what has happened, or rather what has not happened, in the studio. It should not have come as a surprise that my mood at work seeped in to my abilities to be creative and playful but it has. It feels very good to have had this realisation. It is something that I am determined to bear in mind after the summer break. I have already begun planning Creative Saturday 2.0, and activities for both the half-term and Christmas holidays. After my holiday I will return to working at the office – I have missed my colleagues and the inspiration that I get when talking something through with them, it is just not the same in a video meeting.
I found myself longing to be a participant in the art camp workshops, and on the receiving end of an art-bag. The studio – my two studios! – provide more than sufficient opportunities and materials to replicate both situations. With that in mind I feel myself much invigorated!
Quite separately (or perhaps not) I have been thinking about compromise. What I previous considered to be a sign of failure might actually be a route to accomplishment and success. It is something that I want to understand better and learn to embrace … use … enjoy!
compromise 1 n. settlement of dispute by mutual concession; intermediate way between conflicting courses, opinions, etc. 2 v. settle (dispute) or modify (principles) by compromise; bring (person or oneself) under suspicion or into danger by indiscreet action; make a compromise. [F f. L (promise)]
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary, seventh edition, 1984
concession n 1 the act or an instance of conceding. 2 a reduced price or fare for people in certain categories. 3 a grant of land, property, or a right made in return for services or for a particular use. 4a a small shop or business that is allowed to operate on the premises of a larger business. B the right to operate such a concession.
concessionaire n the owner or beneficiary of a concession
The Penguin English Dictionary. 2002
On first reading dictionary definitions seem to bear out my negative reaction to the term. Second and more considered readings make me wonder if I have simply had the wrong intonation. Focus on the settlement, the mutual, and the intermediate way rather than on the dispute and the conflicting course, opinions, etc.
Interestingly the Swedish dictionary defines ’kompromiss’ as 1 mutual agreement, a levelling out, a middle way, a place halfway between two things or places; 2 arbitration, award. In verb form 1 to take a middle way between different suggestions, 2 to be met halfway.
I appreciate this considerably more positive view of compromise – no mention of disputes, or conflicts, or suspicions, or putting things in danger, or indiscreet actions. I am not unaware of the potential for compromise to flatten things out to such a degree that they become banal but acceptable. I hope for compromises that retain sufficient integrity on all sides to keep them vital and vibrant.
What does this have to do with art … with my art … my practice?
Well I am realising that it might be smart to think about how to meet people halfway, and by people I mean galleries, museums, funding bodies, and the like. For all my interest in accessibility, inclusivity, and social engagement I can be very bad at making compromises that might enable me to move closer to my goals – ’my way or the high way’ is pretty meaningless when you have no authority. It is also a somewhat aggressive and egotistic stance.
If I want to make a living from my practice, and I do, then I still need to take in to account other peoples needs. I will very likely have to make compromises, and it has to be better to see this a positive and mutually beneficial process. Ultimately compromise is about not being so selfish, it is about building healthy relationships, respecting other points of view, learning to adapt … it is about belonging in, and to, a society.
I think that making good and appropriate compromises is a skill. And one that I want to learn!