How and when to store works? The tie drapes … as yet untitled works in a series … are hanging on the wall in the studio. Very practical questions about them are hanging in the air … hanging around in my head: do I make cartons/boxes for them and pack them away until I have somewhere to show them, and if so how best to pack them … rolled, folded, flat; should I spend time ’perfecting’ the peg on which they hang … do I spend time looking for exhibition opportunities for them – in group shows, open call exhibitions, or do I look for solo exhibition opportunities where they would be one of several works; do I leave one example hanging in the studio?

If I am honest with myself I know the answers to most of these questions … it’s generally ’yes’. I should make a good way of storing them, I should make a good peg (in multiple), I should re-photograph them on the good peg, I should look to get them in to group and thematic shows, and I should have one hanging in the studio. All of this requires my investment … of time and a little money. If I continue to be honest with myself I have to admit that while I like the idea of investing in them my mind is already racing ahead with the next idea … and the next idea … and the next.

It would be great to make a wooden box for each drape – in which they could hang in the same way they do when installed on the wall. This would be quite a project in itself but perhaps one worth investing in. Perhaps this is an aspect of being an artist that I have not yet tackled … embraced … accepted … that in addition to conceiving of the work and producing it I should be thinking about what happens next. I guess I have a ’duty of care’.

While I am on the honesty track … can I honestly say that I have produced the work? By which I mean is The Work actually made? I have certainly made a sketch … but the peg is not what it should be, and ties in several of the colour ways retain their labels – something that I learnt to remove as I paid attention to how they both added bulk and are even visible from certain angles.

The work is not yet refined, not yet as good as it can be … not yet finished! And while it is exciting that the work remains live, it also contributes to a certain anxiety and awkwardness. Perhaps rather than rushing on a new idea I should really … REALLY … finish with this one. I should give it the focus, time, and attention that is deserves … that is needs if it is to be taken seriously.

So about this peg …




A little shy of seven weeks in to my sabbatical I have this fantasy that the rest of my life could be like this – being a full-time artist … participating in art fairs, well paid and interesting projects, being at the studio, having time and energy (?) to apply for other opportunities. Last week I submitted two applications, one for a substantial project here in Uppsala, the other to attend a residency in Denmark in the summer. Soon it will be time to apply for the ’artists’ working grant’, and now that I have time to look at various open call listings I see that there are loads of opportunities.

For me being a full-time artist encompasses projects, bits of teaching, workshops, odd extra jobs such as having been asked to be the installation technician for the upcoming in- and outdoor exhibition in the same building as where the studios are. My aim for the sabbatical was to see 1, if such an existence is viable and 2, if it suits me. Now I have a dilemma … Uppsala County arts department have advertised a permanent half-time post that I have been asked to apply for.

I know that even being asked to apply does not guarantee getting the job … but it has knocked me a bit sideways anyway. Logically it makes complete sense to apply, and accept it if I am offered it – everyone is predicting a tough year and a half to two years for cultural funding, and I personally am sceptical that things will improve after that – more likely we will have ’simply’ adapted and come to accept the new reality, so looking for a regular income makes good sense … it is absolutely the sensible thing to do. It’s just that I am tired of being sensible … being an artist is in itself not a sensible thing to do … being a sensible artist is something of an oxymoron … and my previous striving for it is probably exactly (?!?) what has held me back.

A little shy of seven weeks in to my sabbatical and I am so glad to be away from the local government environment … do I really want to ’risk’ going back into it … even express my interest in going back in to it so soon? I have barely begun to find my own rhythm and routines and here I am considering not giving them the air that they need to flourish. The problem is that I can not guarantee that they will flourish even if I give them time and space … by all accounts it seems that the ground is significantly less than fertile at the moment – and that is something beyond my scope.

The logical, socially conditioned, part of my brain is telling me not only to apply but make it a damn good application and really go all out to get the job. The creative artistic part of brain is feeling betrayed … I promised myself that I would focus on my own practice for the year … that I would look for artists’ opportunities – residencies, commissions, projects, exhibitions … and I already have several things booked in both autumn and next year – something to mention at interview I guess …

The title of the current show at the Hepworth Wakefield (which I now realise closes before my UK trip) is ’If Not Now, When?’, it’s a question that rings loudly in my ears …



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I just want to play with materials and have fun in the studio … but there are other things that need to be done … adminy things and things that are chores … distractions from playing, making, creating … things that play on my mind rather than in my hands!

I’ve not been idle since getting back from Juxtapose. Immediately following was the Res Artis conference (which I attended digitally) – three days of sitting in front of my computer … the good thing about attending digitally was that I could get on with some simple things around the studio while I ’attending’ the talks and presentations … I finished a patchwork (English-piece and therefore hand-sewn) that I began in 2008 in my West Norwood studio! The piece was untouched for several years, late last year I took it up again and made small progress while chatting with Elena on Skype. Now it is finally finished! It’s hardly a monumental work it just required time that until recently I have haven’t had, or rather it hasn’t been something that I prioritised. Fifteen years in the making! That in itself says something … rather a lot! … about my life, my way(s) of working … it is something of a ’durational object’. I think that I will make its long gestation period known when/if it gets shown.

The conference was not quite what I was expecting: ’Designing residencies for everyone’ lead me to think it would focus on, what I now see were my quite restricted ideas of, issues facing artists with specific physical and/or logistic challenges. My views are now, thankfully, much broader and more inclusive. The question of access and economics was of course central but took on various guises which I had not considered. Nor had I really looked at the range of residencies available, nor thought about how they can operate as part of an artist’s on-going and regular practice – I had thought of residencies as the cherry on the icing on the cake … from my place of porridge. Now I see that residencies can be the bread of an artist’s career – a very exciting idea! Something that came up in more than a few sessions was ’selection’ which is of course bound up in questions of accessibility. What took me by surprise was the suggestion of … and enthusiasm for … ’random selection’ as a method of choosing artists for opportunities. The process, as outlined by Jerwood (apologies if it was another provider/organisation – my notes are rather frenetic), simple required artists to complete a simple online (questions raised about that!) legibility questionnaire – which doubled as registering an expression of interest, from that twelve artists were chosen randomly to develop with proposal – with a modest fee for doing so – before being invited to interview where one (possibly more) was selected. The whole process was evaluated and the vast majority of artists liked … approved of … this kind of random selection saying that it was more democratic and respectful of artists’ time. It certainly appeals to me, just think of how many expressions of interest one could register in a week compared to how many time-consuming, imagination demanding, lengthy applications one could make in the same time. If artists were on salaries then spending hours, days, weeks on an application would not be so much unpaid work at the (doubled) expense of time actually making. Random selection seems to recognise that many artists simply don’t have the economy to make appropriate applications (for residencies or other opportunities) which leads to the selection of already successful … or otherwise wealthy … artists. Not only does random selection drastically reduce the amount of unpaid work that artists have to do, it seriously reduces the hours the (usually) paid providers/organisations spends reading lengthy application – a high percentage of which will not … can not … make the shortlist. It seems like a ’no brainer’ win win situation – artists are able to register far more expressions of interest thereby increasing their chances of being (randomly) selected, and providers can spend more time working with the (randomly) selected artists or even spend time developing other opportunities and programmes.

I attended the conference as research for proposing a residency here in Uppsala. What I hadn’t anticipated was that I would even be proposing a selection process/methodology. I would like both the city and regional arts departments to trial random selection for at least one of their awards/opportunities regardless of my residency proposal. Before doing so I need to speak with colleagues who are campaigning for a ’base income’ for artists local professional artists – a large part of their argument is founded on the time spent making applications! So I need to make sure that my proposal for random selection is seen as an additional rather than an alternative way of improving artists’ economic and working conditions.




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Here’s what I wrote 6th September … I meant to continue but have been at the ACME/Res Artis Mind the Gap conference (attending digitally) and so I post this now as I get ready for the third and final day of the conference …



I feel empowered … energised … enthused …engaged. My experiences at Juxtapose have confirmed what is important to me and whetted my appetite for paying closer attention to leading life in ways that are meaningful to me. The question … challenge … task … is how make this a, achievable and b, sustainable. How to negotiate – because it is about doing this in dialogue with multiple others – the terrain(s)? How to operate through and across the various planes that together are one’s life … this is exactly what needs to be explored over the coming year – less than a year now, I have already had one month of my year’s sabbatical.

I want to be a part of the artist-run – that is perhaps the core … heart … of things, there are then all the things that happen … need to happen … around this. Those other things range from the mundane – an income, to the extraordinary – my practice.

I find myself returning to and reflecting on the idea of orbiting.




This evening I begin my slow journey back to Uppsala – intentionally … purposefully … knowingly … slow. Talk of ’slow’ has pervaded … perfumed … the fair. Slow as good, … slow as intelligent … slow as engagement … slow as politic. Slow is the new urgent … urgently slow. Appreciative of the space that slow unfolds I do not feel a pressure to dissect, analysis, understand, assess, evaluate the fair immediately. Instead I shall allow things to settle. I shall learnt to be comfortable with the anxiety that I might miss or forget something vital … eventually that anxiety will lessen – I expect to learn that I do not and will not miss or forget anything essential … it might just be that it doesn’t crop up until much later. Urgency is unsustainable, peace perhaps offers duration.

It has been a long time since I attended a fair that isn’t Supermarket, and an even longer time since I attended a fair outside of Sweden. It has been enriching … nourishing. As I continue to settle in to Uppsala I want to develop an international context. Yes there is much to be done in Uppsala – to be honest that can easily feel as though I giving a lot of myself without getting so much in return … I am sure that this is both untrue and a phase that I go though in the process of settling and find my place and pace. I have thoroughly enjoyed the range of perspectives and references … the openness to listen and to speak. It feels as though I come to understand myself through my response(s).

This morning Pam and I are meeting for coffee – it so exciting to have open ended discussions with her … to be working towards something as yet unknown and to be comfortable with that. The abstract …enquiring … unchartered … nature of our thinking and working is such a joy. Drawing the map as we go … which of course requires a particular level of attention and sensitivity. I am very pleased to be developing this working relationship.

How much crazy to let out? Both my practice and my extended practice need and deserve attention, nurturing, support. That is what this year is about … time, space, experiment, deepening, extending … finding my faith … finding my brave.