Moving the two large work-tables from the studio in Enköping to the one in Uppsala last Friday felt definitive. Up until then I had been kind of camping out in the new studio. Having appropriate furniture and fittings may not be essential for making great but it goes along way to feeling settled and being able to work efficiently and easily. A couple of cupboards might get moved this week. It seems sensible and environmentally responsible to pack the car with as much as possible when I making the journey.

Being at the new studio is a little like being at the beginning of a new relationship. Everything is exciting and it is easy to imagine a brilliant future together. Being at the old studio is a little like being at the ending of an old relationship, so perhaps the less said about that the better.

Another artist at the studio, Mireia, and I decided to have lunch together that day, we took ourselves and our lunch boxes over to the ’old corridor’ where there is a kitchen with a proper table and chairs (and a dishwasher). Mireia has also lived in Sweden for about ten years, however she moved here as a linguist and has only recently graduated from art school in Gothenburg and moved to Uppsala. It was really good to chat about the various opportunities that are out there, and about how important it is to be around other artists. As if on cue Aron popped in to the kitchen, he is recently back from a short residency in Italy and in a very laid back way he enthused about having time and space to focus on his work. He also spoke about spending time with the other artists on the programme. It is exactly this kind of thing that I need … everything on the spectrum from a simple lunch with another artist to a residency abroad … this is what excites me, this is why I want to be at the new studio!


The previous weekend Pavel invited me to go to the commercial art fair ’Market’ with him. It has been a couple of years since I was at Market, last year it was cancelled and the year before I just did not go. Market was something that I often went to with Francois, and even if he could not make it he would send me his VIP pass so that I could go in his place. Both Market and Frieze (London) make me think of Francois, our friendship is still a bit of a mystery to me. I miss him and it still crosses my mind to get in touch with one of his other friends to find out how he died.

We were actually a group of five who met for lunch before going to the fair but once inside everyone headed off in different directions and at different paces. Unsurprisingly Pavel and I, the two artists in the group, were the ones who took the most time to go around and occasionally bumped into each. I noticed that Pavel is very good at striking up conversation with gallerists, I am perhaps too aware that they are there to sell and that I am not buying. I go to commercial art fairs to get a snap shot of what is happening in the commercial art scene, and I leave with an odd feeling of being both satisfied that what I am doing would not look out of place there and disappointed that what I am doing is not there.

Mireia happened to be in Stockholm that weekend too and joined us. She and Pavel met briefly at the exhibition in Tierp, and all three of us were in the Knivsta show though there no events organised for that one. We had a very quick chat about a vague idea for an exhibition that I suggested – the three of us come from different countries (Spain, Russia, Britain) and have different practices however we all moved to Sweden about the same time and we are all trying to find our places in the Swedish art scene so why not see if there is an exhibition somewhere in that.


In other news …

The Supermarket Independent Art Fair magazine and catalogue went to print today.  As always there was proofreading to be done at the second to last minute.  I am so impressed with Alice’s attention to detail and her patience, she really is a fantastic editor and over the years I have come to understand what an incredibly professional and determined artist and project coordinator she is.




It feels as though I am caught in a bit of a vicious circle (or is that ’cycle’ – no matter). It is the start the of the funding application season here in Sweden: artists’ grants and awards as well as project funding, travel awards, and residencies, being offered at local, regional, and national levels. Any of these would be fantastic to receive, all of these are vital to apply for. Applying is seen as an artist taking their practice and career seriously – after all why would you not apply if you could?

And this is where I become unstuck, or rather stuck in that vicious circle. I am so busy doing other things that I do not have the time to make good applications. I am confident that an award enabling me to work full-time in my studio would be hugely beneficial to my practice and could easily lead to exhibition opportunities and to commissions and even sales. However the time that is committed to my paid employment and my voluntary work in the arts sector means that have neither sufficient time nor thinking space for my own practice, which in turn leads to me submitting poor applications that are (understandably) unsuccessful.

And because my applications are unsuccessful I need to remain in my paid employment to pay my bills – including my studio rent and materials, and I remain on voluntary committees to maintain some visibility … and then I have neither time nor material to make good applications …

How to break this cycle?

One application that I must make, and make well (whatever that means in this particular context) is the application for an artists’ mentoring programme. Last year I made an unsuccessful application for funding a mentor to me … I wonder if my application might have inspired this new programme (which is being offered by the authority that I made my application to). Hopefully my current situation makes me a good candidate for this professional artistic career mentoring.

It is relatively easy for me to identify distinct areas of my practice where I would like mentoring. And of course I am open for my mentor to say whether I have identified the most appropriate areas or not! My fantasy mentor is someone who works with both public commissions and a commercial gallery, someone who shows in both Sweden and abroad, someone whose practice is both aesthetic and political. The media that my mentor works in is less important than their approach and experience. My fantasy mentor someone who will become both a colleague and friend. Am I expecting too much? Perhaps!


I realise that it is not enough to just want things. I need to do things to make them happen. One of most basic, yet hardest to do, is to be honest with myself about what I want. I can find all kinds of reasons why I find it hard to say what I want – the reasons might be interesting but they are kind of irrelevant. The most important thing is to communicate what I want and to find those who can help me get what I want.

Writing that last sentence made me rather uncomfortable. The words after ’ … and to find’ were hard to write. Asking for help does not come easily to me, asking to get what I want makes me feel greedy, selfish, and egoistic. This is something that I need to get some perspective on, perhaps it is something that will be explored directly and indirectly through the mentoring programme, which makes getting accepted on the programme even more urgent.



In other news …

At the risk of creating some kind of weird feedback loop I want to thank Elena Thomas and Kate Murdoch (and our other guests!) for an inspiring discussion at Tuesday evening’s Discussion Festival. Our starting point was the article that we co-authored about our long-form long-term blogs here on a-n. It was the first time that I have talked about the blog and blogging, and it was really great to speak about it with other bloggers, artists, and writers. It was fascinating to hear other people speak about their motivations and intentions, as well as their ways of writing. The evening gave me a lot to think about and was particularly relevant in the context of wanting to shift and shake things in my practice. Why not shift and shake things here in my blog too?

This post (on reflection) is pretty self-centred and introspective. I think that it follows a pattern that has developed over the recent months (years?). I am excited to break this and other habits!



1 Comment


Where to start?

There are some many threads (wisps) blowing around and I find it hard to weave them into any sort of order. Some things though are making themselves clear … and these things are the result of more than a single event or stream of thought … things are coalescing … weaving themselves together without needing my conscious input or effort.

I need to revise and shift how I use my time. Over the last few weeks I have become bored of hearing myself saying that ‘I do not have time’ for things. Most significantly I do not have time for my own work (a situation which is aggravated by wanting to be at the studio in Uppsala – an hour’s drive away). Thinking about time, often while in the car, led me to consider the verbs that I employ around the word … I talk about …

  • Wanting time for my art
    Making time for my art
    Finding time for my art
    Not having time for my art

I was not particularly happy with any one of these verbs. They seemed to abstract, passive, weak, or ineffectual. Then I came to a verb that seems much more appealing – use

  • Using time for my art


This phrase shifts things for me. It makes me a much more active participant in relation to time. Time is no longer something that I do not possess (’wanting’), nor something that I have to somehow create (’making’), nor something out there waiting to be discovered (’finding’), nor something lacking (’not having’). Time is always already there, the vital thing is how it is used.
And I am, to a greater extent than I often acknowledge, in control of that.


All of which leads me to ask: how can I use time for my art?

My immediate response is to say by treating time as a valuable resource, something precious and finite. So I am going to try and be better at valuing my time. Not doing this is what enables me to stick with inappropriate habits and routines – things which use time without giving a result, or even worse which use time and lead to negative result.

My involvement in an artists’ group is one of the threads that is woven in to this thinking about time. I am disappointed and angry with how the group’s recent exhibition was handled. These strong reactions have consumed too much time. I have made the decision that I do not want to use my time with this group any more.


Being around other artists a little more has led to another thread that weaves into thinking about how I use my time. It has been very good for me to hear artists talking about the opportunities they have seen, the articles that they have read, the applications that they have made. I realise that I want to use my time to do similar things. The hours that I use for local arts association, which will certainly not collapse if I am not on the committee, could be put to better use on my own artistic practice. I would rather be making art than making a framework for other people’s art. I have made the decision that I will step down from the committee at the next AGM.

These two decisions are a good start!


If I don’t use time for my art how I can expect anyone else to?