Sometimes, that is to say now, transparency can seem unnecessary and cruel. It doesn’t help me to know that the arts council approved 24% of applications for the artists’ working grants when mine was one of the 76% that was unsuccessful. And of course it’s personal – they … this year’s selection board – don’t like what I do, or don’t think that what I am doing is worth supporting. It couldn’t be more personal!

I found out yesterday when I was at the studio. One of my colleagues there got the ward, along with two others at thes studio who weren’t there but their names were on the published list. I am truly pleased for those who got it. For me it raises pre-existing frustrations to new levels. The three that received the award are all good … great … artists. They produce very different work: painting, sculpture, interdisciplinary research-based installation and projects. The thing that they have in common is that they are artists through and through, they are full-time artists that live and breath for their practice. To be honest I know that I don’t do that … I am not sure that I have ever done that. I have always been too concerned with making a living – the artwork comes second to earning money … my focus is elsewhere. And I guess that is evident to the selection board.

My work lacks depth and commitment … urgency.

So do I have the courage of my convictions? Do I really believe in what I do? I honestly don’t know but I want to give it a shot … I want to know for sure. I made myself the promise that I would give myself the equivalent of the award from my savings if I wasn’t successful in my application. Now I know that I wasn’t successful so it’s time to do what I said that I would do.

Even before I finding out about the award I had had two conversations with studio colleagues about needing to leave my council job. Yesterday was my first day at the studio in about … if not over … two weeks, and something about being back there made me realise that I need to be there not in an office in Enköping with pleasant enough but uninteresting and uninspiring colleagues and a no-longer new manager who I am very disappointed with. So time to ask for that year’s unpaid leave!

My hope is that having a year without the distraction, and it is a major distraction, of the council work will give me the focus that I need to see if there is the depth, commitment, and urgency to my (art)work that I think that there is.


Before leaving the studio yesterday I took some stuff to recycling. It felt good to get rid of rubbish that had been collecting in the studio for quite sometime. I think it was the first of several trips that need to be made … learning to let go of what is no-longer relevant. I want to go back to the studio today (Saturday) and put up more shelves, it’s a good day to do it as I need to drill into a stone/concrete wall so the fewer people that I disturb the better.





I am in that weird headspace that having a cold gives one … or at least gives me … I should have been on a site visit on Wednesday, I should have been at a seminar on Thursday, I should have been at a meeting yesterday afternoon and a performance yesterday evening, I want to be at an opening later today and a party this evening. The cold – my third this year! – prevents all of this. I find myself in some kind of limbo. I wish that I had materials at home to be getting on … playing … with. I take it as a good sign that I feel like this – for the past two days I haven’t had the energy to do much more than doze and watch films. With the artists’ club’s annual general meeting fast approaching there have been some necessary emails and telephone calls – just as well that my cold isn’t any more serious or debilitating than it has been.

Although I have a sketchbook here I am aware that I don’t want to fall in to my habit of sketching … designing … something that I will then attempt to reproduce in material … in three dimensions … in space. The site visit that I could not attend on Wednesday was to Lövstabruk – the estate belonging to Sweden’s, if not the world’s, largest iron works of the eighteenth century where I and four other artist will show this summer. I have set myself the challenge … and it is a challenge for me … of making a new work … an installation … that has materiality rather than anything else at its core. At the moment I am working out what this means! It feels like an extension of what I did … how I worked … on the residency in Riga. I have been collecting … assembling … material – literally fabric, cloth – and I want to work with these materials to create the installation. I have been collecting … assembling … references – from the world of haute couture as well as fine art. And now I want to see what happens when I start working. I am both excited and a little scared!

I hope to visit Lövstabruk next week. The photos of the space taken on Wednesday and shared between the artists show a large dimly light room with a low ceiling and quite imposing architectural features. Having looked at the photos I am aware that I need to be on site to appreciate … comprehend … know … the room. I am very curious as to how we will work towards and achieve this show … as artists our practices seem quite distinct.

With so much going on in the coming months I really need to draw up a schedule so that I can easily see when things are happening – it’s simply too much to keep in my head. I can’t stop myself wondering what I will hear about the artist’s working grant … the list of successful applicants should be available in early April. Either I will be successful or not … it’s pointless playing it over in my mind but I can’t help it. Even if I get a grant it doesn’t alter the commitments that I have made up until the end of the summer. I guess that receiving the award is about much more than just the money … it is about being recognised as an artist by one’s peers and those in the art-world. And perhaps it is that which I really need right now. Having said … written … that I have to wonder why I don’t recognise the invitations to be involved in all the projects that I am involved with as recognition of me as an artist!


I want to say something about Phyllida Barlow – though I don’t know what to say. I guess reading about her, and having watched a few interviews over the past months, I can say that I was becoming increasingly intrigued by her work. Or perhaps by the space which her work opens up for me … rather than by the work itself – which I find awkward and difficult but perhaps that is because I have only seen one or two pieces in reality. Having known her as one of several female tutors at the Slade in the 1990s I was delighted when she ’suddenly’ gained recognition that exceeded that of many of the more arrogant male tutors that were her colleagues. I was becoming increasingly intrigued in how she spoke about her work – its materiality rather than its meaning … its process rather than its product. I have watched her Louisiana Channel films a number of times and will probably continue to return to them. Something definitely resonates … I see … hear … certain similarities between our concerns, and there are even some visual similarities between particular pieces. She was not one of my tutors and because of the general animosity towards Stuart Brisley’s department I didn’t have any real contact with Phyllida while I was at the Slade … I wonder what might have happened had that been different.





My mind is racing after visiting the three locations – train stations – where I have been asked to make temporary works this summer. Next Friday I have to submit an initial sketch/concept … I really wish that was all that I had to do in the coming week … unfortunately it is far from the only thing that I have to do!

When the project coordinator spoke with me about the project – ASK: arbetsfält för samtidskonst [translates roughly as places for working with contemporary art] – the idea was that I should make one work that could be presented (with minor adaptions) in the three locations. Having now visited them and seeing and hearing how different the particular stations are it is not immediately clear how one work – other than something very conceptual – could be installed in all three places.

The physical architectural environments are very distinct. The first is a two storey wooden building from the late 1800s, it is owned/run by an artist pair who also have a simple hotel/bed and breakfast on the first floor. The waiting room is managed (and furnished) by a national company and in contrast to the welcoming café and shop it could be any waiting room anywhere in Europe. The second is reminiscent of a 1990s shopping centre with a gym, cafe, and a large unit that has failed to attract a business – that vacant space is assigned to the project. The room is vast and high … the wall facing the indoor waiting area (it can’t be described as a room) is glazed and there are large windows on the external wall. The third building is hard for me to date. From the outside it looks like a goods store or siding. The station occupies slightly less than half of the building … the rest being a ’flea-market’ that opens two days a week during the summer. In what I presume is the former ticket office and newsagent is now a shop selling sustainable and up-cycled crafts – also open two days a week but not the same two days as the flea-market. There are three awkwardly placed display cabinets in the waiting room, it has been suggested that I use them.


Next week I will meet with the project coordinator – Hilda … who I know as she was my co-worker on Creative Saturday for a year or so, and we were both participants in an artist’s studio talks programme this time last year. It will be good to talk with her. She was clear from the beginning that there are limited resources and although the project is ambitious I should be realistic about the scale of work that can be achieved in the given circumstances – that is to say in terms of my time/fee as well as the technical/logistic support.

In a further shift … development … challenge … two of the locations want the project at the same time so that it coincides with their culture week – so that is another factor to take in to account and which rules out re-locating … re-configuring … one piece/work for the three sites.

The project is a collaboration between Konstfrämjandet Västmanland – an organisation that aims to make contemporary art accessible through a varied programme of projects, exhibitions, talks, workshops and the local councils. Yesterday I met the council workers from each of the districts: an arts officer, the head of the library, and a 50/50 arts officer/business development officer. Each of them was enthusiastic about the project and was keen for there to be a workshop or other participatory activity in conjunction with the installation/exhibition/event/intervention.

Today I shall spend the day thinking through … without prejudice … what I might do. Already some very material … practical … physical ideas are bubbling up, but I want to give myself time and space to consider more conceptual possibilities …

Driving between the stations my thoughts turned to Brief Encounter (2008) – the site specific … site informed … site sensitive … work that I made for Kunst Plattform Brusand. And even to M: meeting place (2019). How much do I want to take on of the train-station-ness of the sites? There is so much to consider … which is as exciting as it is challenging!

I think that it is time to go get the old chalk board that I saved from being thrown out in Enköping … on the way put the kettle on!