I need intellectual … mental … stimulation! Those two lectures at Mejan have made me realise how much I need to engage with intellectual … academic ? … discussion around practice. The question is how. It would be great to find a course … but I don’t know how to do that – Uppsala university’s website is not easy for me to navigate. And what kind of course do I want to do? Earning points – credits– toward an MA isn’t so important but at the same time I want something that is demanding and that will make me think … and why not read and ’present’ too!

Yesterday, while looking for something else, I came across an announcement for a ’50% PhD seminar’ the title of which is Shattering Myself Together: Cruising Possible Queer Cartographies with Craft. I can honestly and simply say that I have no idea what that means but … and! …that I am very intrigued by it. I understand each word in isolation but put together like that there is for me ambiguity, playfulness, pretention, frustration, exclusivity. I want to understand … to comprehend … but somehow I can’t … I don’t have the necessary skills or tools … If I don’t engage with this kind of research/project/way of thinking then I will never come to understand it. And for whatever reason there is something that I find attractive and alluring about it … something that excites and challenges.

I can’t see myself ever getting on to a PhD programme. Here in Sweden at least it seems that you have to already be working in a particularly academic way, or already be a part of an institution, to stand a chance of coming in to such a position. There have got to be other options … perhaps something that isn’t directly visual arts based but which I can apply to my practice – queer studies perhaps?

Or maybe I just keep going to open lectures and seminars … at least for the time being … and see where that takes me. I feel a bit adrift … in search of a way of being … or a new context.

I am making remarkably slow progress with sorting out the studio. Last week I took four full packing boxes from the temporary store room and surprisingly quickly the contents were placed on shelves and in cupboards. Those four boxes are a mere fraction of what remains but it feels good to have done something … small steps. I am determined to unpack a few more boxes this week … today! Time disappears in a whirl of work, project emails, conversations with friends, and domestic activity. I bore myself repeating the observation that it always my practice that comes last on my ’to do’ list. It is only me that can change this – another often revisited phrase.

It is soon March, two months of this ’new’ year will have soon passed. I seem to be in some state of confusion – there is too much going on and yet at the same time I am aware that something is missing … I guess that (some of) the things that are going on aren’t the right things and that it is this that causes the frustrations and awkwardness – the persistent nagging sense that something is lacking. Perhaps getting on with practical tasks is as good a way as any to shift things and perhaps … hopefully … obtain some sense of progression.




A quiet Sunday morning after an intense … busy … exciting … full … week. I drank my second up of coffee listening to another of Margaret Heffernan’s wonderful Radio 3 Essays on Art and Uncertainty. This one circling around collecting without intentions, travelling without maps, engagement without prejudices. Aspects of this episode really resonated with thoughts that are swimming around … how to give my practice … myself … the time and space that I need to develop as an artist. I notice myself asking the radio how does an artist – in any medium – have the resources to take risks … to work on something … to gather material … to try things out … when there is rent to be paid and food to be put on the table. I try not to get distracted by my response, rather to let myself feel reassured that my ways of being are those of any … every! … other artist.

On Wednesday I wrote the following intending to ’finish’ and post it …

Yesterday’s open lecture at Mejan – Figure and Ground: An overview of Textile Materiality in Contemporary Art, Natasha Marie Llorens – was somewhat of a crash course in relevant references for the direction that my own practice is taking.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Natasha ’read with’ Julia Bryan Wilson’s Fray … phrases such as ’read with’ make me aware of just how far I am from academia and how very very much I miss it.  How much I miss the curiosity that drives the research, that challenges convention, that strives for advancement rather than resolution.  Natasha’s language and turns of phrase, like her colleague Axel Andersson’s the week before in an equally inspiring lecture, reminded me that the ambition is always for clarity and precision and it is exactly that desire to communicate something new that can sometimes make it seem elitist and impenetrable.  Yesterday though … and the week before … I found it exciting and seductive!  I bathed in the glorious sentences that washed over me – thoroughly enjoying being there.

Several of the names mentioned had shown recently and I realised that I really should be more on top of who is show what … and where … and who is writing about it … and where!  One of the benefits of being art school is the library and the subscriptions to international art magazines.  How does/should one keep up with this when neither studying nor affiliated to a school?  I think that Uppsala library holds Frieze magazine which is good … but Art Forum … Art Monthly?


It got late on Wednesday and I neither finished nor posted the above. Thursday I knew that I needed to spend the day doing my tax accounts. It’s not too arduous a task but demands time and attention … I had to speak with online support twice and thankfully they have a call back service. While waiting and unable to continue with the tax return I checked my phone and saw a message from Kaspars in Riga. He wanted to know if I would be interested in being a moderator for one of the summer residencies that he is planning. I excitedly called him and said an enthusiastic yes – hopefully not too enthusiastically! It is of course all subject to financing so nothing is certain but I am very excited at the possibility and that Kaspars asked me. If it works out it means that I will be back at Total Dobze for at least three weeks in July. This is exactly the kind of project that I want to be working with!

As if Kaspars’ message wasn’t enough I also received a mail from one of the coordinators of the Juxtapose art fair who wanted to know if I was interested in collaborating with them and somehow connecting the Supermarket Meetings with their Think Tanks programme. They too were writing a funding application and wanted to know whether to include travel costs for me to participate at their fair in Denmark in September. After checking that I wasn’t treading on anyone’s (the directors’) toes at Supermarket I answered with a resounding yes!

I can hardly believe that these two invitations came within a week of deciding that it’s time for change. While neither is by any means certain they are a huge boost to my confidence and to seeing that there are options … ways of being … that are incredibly exciting.

Juxtapose is scheduled for the first weekend in September which clashes with Enköping’s ’Garden Day’ (always the first Saturday in September). It’s one of the day’s that I am expected to provide a creative activity for kids even though few attend as there are so many other things to do that particular day. It really feels as though the department uses me as a way of signalling that they are doing something without caring if it’s either relevant or appropriate. I had already been thinking that if I get the artists’ working award I would ask to take unpaid leave directly after the summer, now that seems absolutely necessary.

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It is at least another two months before I hear whether or not my application for an artist’s working grant has been successful and I have promised myself that I am not going to make any rash decisions until I hear about that. Over the last few days however I have been thinking through … and even talking through … possible options if my application is not successful. And is has to do with investment – getting an award or grant is a kind of investment, in this particular case it is the arts council who invests in a selection of artists – those that they deem worthy of what is essentially tax payers’ money/investment. There is no prescribed outcome required of the awardee, the grant is made without conditions … ’an act of faith’ if you like … which goes some way to explain the selection process and the responsibilities of the jury.

Making the application can be seen as asking for investment – an input of resources (finance) that will enable development, progress, and growth. Nothing though is guaranteed and as we are frequently reminded the value of an investment can go up as well as down, and past history is no guarantee of future performance. So my making the application I am saying to the arts council that I think that I am worth investing in. Do I really believe this? I mean really really believe this? And if I really really do then what I am doing to invest in myself. Can I expect others to believe in me if I do not believe in myself? Can I expect others to invest in me if I don’t invest in myself?

I have in savings a little over the sum of the artists’ working grant. (It’s not actually money that I have saved rather it is the money that I ’made’ by taking the largest possible mortgage and buying an apartment under the highest possible price.). The money gives me a sense of security … should anything happen I have some means by which to pay for a service or item that I might need. What if rather letting this money sit there in the bank I take it out and give myself an award … if I invest in myself … if I demonstrate to myself that I believe in myself?

If I think that the artists’ working award would make such a difference to my life then surely the same amount from any other source would make the same difference – no? It’s not as if the artist’s working award comes with an exhibition or other form of public outcome, nor does it offer specific networking opportunities. It is simply an investment that each successful artist decides how best to use … from what I understand many give up, or take unpaid leave from, their ’bread job’ which is exactly what I would do. So if I don’t get one of the arts council grants why not use the money that is the bank to do exactly the same thing?

Yes it is a risk. But if I expect to benefit from the artist’s working grant then I should expect to benefit from my own similar investment. In fact as it is my own money there is probably some (more?) pressure to make sure that I get a return on the investment.

Many many years ago I heard something about the point of money … if I remember correctly (and let’s hope that I do!) the point was that is should be in motion – it is transactional … it enables things to happen. And I need and want (more) things to happen!

It feels like a good time … the ’right time’? … to invest in my practice … to invest in myself. Yes it is scary but I think that it might well be time to feel the fear and do it anyway!

As I said in some ways I shall hold fire for two months but in others I shall start to plan my year knowing that I am getting, in one way or another, a significant investment that will enable me to really really focus on my practice, on taking the next step(s). And that is very exciting!





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