I am enjoying making work – unlimited editions – in preparation for the Christmas Market / Open Studios in just over a week’s time. I am not expecting to sell anything but it would be great to be pleasantly surprised! Not only am I enjoying making the editions … I am feeling almost smug about the actual pieces … they make me smile … they are a good use of existing material … they are ’seasonal’. What are they? They are secondhand jigsaw pussels where I have covered a randomly selected piece with black glitter before putting it back with the other pieces. Christmas 10 years ago I started a jigsaw, something of a tradition in both Sweden and the UK. Working on it only occasionally after the initial Christmas and New Year period the thing took me weeks to complete … actually that depends how you define ’complete’. All of the pieces in the box were used but the picture was not complete – a few pieces were missing. K suggested putting gitter where the pieces were missing. I chose black glitter … and this became the first in a series of works were gaps … holes … in secondhand jigsaw pussels were filled with black glitter. Of course the works took a considerable amount of time to make … I made six, possibly seven or even eight, and then moved on to other things. I had however bought quite a few jigsaw puzzles in anticipation of making a substantial series … an idea which still appeals to me. These as yet un-played (?) puzzles have (been) moved from one studio to another, here at Hospitalet they contribute to mass of materials and past works that I have ’temporarily’ occupied an empty room with. That was until I hit upon the idea of turning them in to a kind of diy art project – which is why I am coating one pussel piece from each box in black glitter. Whoever buys one is guaranteed at least one spot of glitter in their finished … self finished(?) … jigsaw. (It’s entirely up to them if they fill any other potential holes with glitter or not. Each box contains the pieces of the pussel along with a signed ’certificate of authenticity’.

I am even going to offer a gift wrapping service – as I think that they make great Christmas presents! I am very curious as to whether anyone will buy one. My approach to the Christmas Market is somewhat more The Fete Worse than Death than handcraft and watercolours … not that I claim to be anywhere close to Joshua Compston’s brilliance. I do enjoy testing the boundaries, and … or … offering something different to what might be expected at an artists’ open studio … no nicely framed prints … decorative paintings here … though definitely something for the genuinely curious and daring collector!

The unexpected success of my secondhand stall at last year’s Christmas Market has encouraged … inspired … others to do the same this year. There is even talk of a long un-manned table where we all can put our things – labelled with price and telephone number – so that visitors can simply pay by phone for whatever they buy. After a year in my ’new’ apartment with several unopened moving boxes in the basement I can pretty confidently say that there are plenty of things at home that I could try and sell … how many vintage vases, dishes, candlesticks, cutlery sets, table clothes, napkins, storage jars does one single middle-aged man need … even if he is a homosexual and somewhat of a ’collector’?

I am also making small steps towards getting work ready for Vårsalongen (The Spring Exhibition). Last night I visited the Uppsala Makerspace to see if could be somewhere that I could produce the pegs that the ties drape over. The place is very impressive with dedicated rooms for not only wood and metal work but also ceramics, textiles, electronics, and 3D printing. In addition there is a general tools store, a range of materials that members can use, an area for (young) children, shelving and storage boxes where members can leave their on-going projects, and a large general crafting table, library, and lounge next to a large well equipped kitchen. I was very impressed and am definitely keen to join. The simplest and most basic membership allows access on Wednesday evenings and the option to sign-up for any workshops, classes, and courses. It’s a very reasonable £20 for the year. Tomorrow I shall sit with the computer and workout where and how to buy the timber to make a trial transport box for the work. Making the first (prototype) box is a project for next week. Studio colleagues have been telling me that local council arts officers often visit and buy from the exhibition. Some commercial galleries attend as well as collectors, consultants, and agents. I am doing well at not getting my hopes up … and am bracing myself for a good deal of criticism … I am however very excited about the level of exposure that the show offers, and am excited about the potential to meet the two curators from the selection panel/committee – Ashik Zaman and Tawanda Appiah – both of whom are doing fantastic work broadening, extending, deepening, developing, supporting, and exposing contemporary practice in Sweden.


Tuesday I had a lovely … and long overdue … studio chat with Elena Thomas.  After a good catch-up about family, friends, and such we spoke about how we might  think around … develop … and  propose …  a two person show.  Though our processes and material are distinct there feels to me to be something in our approach and ways of working that speaks to shared  concerns … there must be something there – we have been in correspondence for over ten years!  Perhaps that’s it – ‘correspondence’!




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Things are not working out the way that I had imagined that they would … this is not necessarily a bad thing … but it is a thing … a thing that I need to adjust to …

I was offered, and have accepted, the half-time position with the counties art department. This means that I will have a regular and secure income – no bad thing in these tough economic times – however it also means that I will not have my sabbatical year. I swing between thinking that I have made the wisest possible decision under the circumstances, and beating myself for my lack of courage and commitment to my practice. The ideal scenario would have been that I would find part/halt-time work towards the end of an enjoyable and productive year in the studio. Have I had good fortune in finding that job before the year, and my savings account, is spent … or have I wimped out and hit the emergency stop before I even really got started? As I say my mood, attitude, and reasoning swings …

Amongst artist friends, and colleagues, and in artists’ articles I hear (read) more and more about the fragility of the artist’s position, the challenges of maintaining a practice if one doesn’t have the (financial) support and or stability of a partner or family with economic security. Levels of project funding are not what they once were and at the same time costs are increasing. It’s no wonder that sustainability is a hot topic … many of us are wondering if being an artist is sustainable. Beside the pressure to work with sustainable materials and processes, to transport and exhibit our work sustainably, we are having to consider whether we can economically, physically, and mentally keep things ticking along. Actually it feels as though ’ticking along’ is never enough, I certainly feel that there are both internal and external expectations of progress … significant development … advancement.

Writing the yearly application for the artists’ working grant is always an ’interesting’ experience: it’s good to look back over the last five years of one’s practice and see the achievements … no need to account for or even mention the failures! … at the same time I am immediately aware of how much more I could have accomplished had I not had to earn income from other sources … had I had more time in the studio … had I had more time to apply for other exhibitions … had I had more time to follow up connections and leads. The intention with the the grant (if I understand it correctly) is to facilitate exactly these opportunities … to give artists a kind of base income for a year or two … to give artists time. At the same time, and on the other hand, it feels that unless one is already doing these things then the application probably lacks the substance that would make it successful … a catch 22! Additionally I know that I am far from the best application writer – so want to thank A for making me think about what the reader/panel wants to read rather than thinking about what I want to write/say, and I want to thank M for letting me see their previously successful application – it really helped to see how an artist whom I know and respect communicated their practice, intentions, ambitions, and frustrations in ways that made them accessible and desirable … it was an application expressing integrity, commitment, intelligence, and honesty, and I was left in no doubt as to why it had been approved for support.
(Which reminds me I need check and see if I have a reply from the Arts Council regarding my request for copies of some other successful applications. Successful applications become ’public information’ – produced on request – as the grants are made from public money meaning that the public has the right to see how ’their’ (tax) money is being spent.)
Logging in to my ’account’ with the Arts Council I can, if I choose to, see my previous applications – not a bad time-saving idea to copy and paste bits of the cv that are still relevant – I think that this year’s application is far stronger than last years … and the year before that. In April I will find out if it was strong enough to be selected.


I am delighted and excited to have been selected for the Liljevalchs Spring Exhibition 2024! (It is the equivalent of the RA Summer Show.). An artist friend at the studio – E – asked if was going to apply and I said that I wasn’t, E thought that one of the selection board might appreciate my work and that I should apply – so I did. E was right! Not only am I delighted and excited I am also rather surprised that all five pieces (the maximum one can submit) have been accepted – they are a series … but even when I found the Liljevalchs envelope in the mail box I imagined that one or two … at the most three … might be accepted but not all five! Being selected means a huge amount for me. It’s a show that I have visited many times over the years, the first time with John and Christina (his mum) on one of our holidays here. Since moving here the exhibition has been a (pretty) regular date with Christina. In the early years she encouraged me to apply which I started doing as soon as I had the necessary Swedish identity number. After a few years having to say that I hadn’t been selected we stopped talking about my applications, we just went along to see who and what was being shown. Last year I neither applied (artist friend P and I reasoning that it was more fun to spend the application fee on good wine), nor visited (Christina went with a friend as we couldn’t find a day that suited us both).  How different things are … will be … this year!



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There is a long list of things that require attention … and plenty of material that I want to play with … yet I find the need to write something here and now most urgent … most pressing … most distracting even!

It was my intention to post while I was in the UK, however this (evidently) did not happen. I had not figured that my time there with friends and family would be so very different from my time … or perhaps rather my way of spending time … here. How out of practice I am at being with other people … or at being at home with people with whom I want to make the most of every minute. We spoke late in to the nights and so my usual early mornings became later mornings and then there were things to do, places to be – together with people whom I have missed very much over the last five years. And even if some of those people have visited me since the pandemic travel restrictions were lifted I have not been at home or spent time with them in their spaces and places.

Now I find myself wondering if I should play catch-up – try to write one super post that covers … reports … accounts … recounts … my three week odyssey. This seems an unrealistic and perhaps even meaningless task … and who would I be doing it for. Probably better to let things seep out as and when relevant over the coming weeks and months. My time away was more intense … stimulating … inspiring … diverse … reflective … than I could have imagined. There were many unexpected and exciting encounters and experiences, and even those that I had arranged exceeded my expectations.

There was of course a certain familiarity in returning to the UK, and at the same time it felt rather different from the country that I lived in and that I last visited – no doubt the impact of both Covid and leaving the EU marking their mark … scar tissue?

While staying with my parents in the apartment that they moved to shortly before the pandemic broke out and therefore only known to me as the background of our regular Sunday afternoon tea Skype calls, I had an interview for the technician/curator position with the regional council. The day after my return to Uppsala I had a second and in-person interview. Both of these were good and pleasant experiences, and I have ’resolved’ to accept the job if it is offered. I am far from convinced that it will be offered, I am not sure that my personality and way of being (definitely more Tigger or Piglet than Eeyore or Owl) fits with the existing team who seems quite calm and placid. The job sounds interesting and it seems to offer opportunities to develop my curatorial skills as well as honing my technical abilities. In the bigger picture it seems a less than optimal time to prioritise the flexibility of being freelance over a secure and regular income. There is an almost palpable anxiety amongst the project and truly self-standing artists that I speak to at the studio. Hopefully these tough economic times will pass, as hopefully will the right wing (national) administration, and the more generous support for all the arts will be restored. It really cannot happen soon enough.


I have been asked to ’hop in’ for an artist friend who has had to withdraw from a school’s project. This afternoon I have to research four artists whose work will be the visual and conceptual inspiration for creative workshops to be run at the school. I will admit to being a little nervous about the gallery talks. I am far less used to these than I am with leading practical sessions. On my way to the studio this morning I started to see how I could present the work in a way that feels both comfortable for me and that is hopefully useful to the students in terms of the artworks that they will be making.

My sabbatical is already taking twist and turns that I could not have predicted. I am incredibly grateful that I have this opportunity to explore new ways of being.