… and suddenly May is ending.

In my mind it has only just begun. Flipping through my diary I can see what it feels like that. There’s always follow-up work to do after Supermarket, there was collecting my work from Liljevalchs, then there was the screen-printing course … more on that later … my participation and presentation at the Verdandi student association Biennale … more on that later / in upcoming post …then there was the Market Art Fair, an unexpected deadline (half self imposed, half not), and making a very minimal artwork for the artists’ clubs members’ show. In addition the Saab needed both a trip to the mechanics and it’s MOT, I needed to renew both my passport and driving license – life in Sweden is seriously curtailed if one doesn’t have a valid form of ID and with the UK having left the EU my UK passport has limited currency here. Renewing such documents means booking times to physically visit the appropriate authority and / or the police. There was of course a good smattering of other small and necessary tasks, events, and activities both art related and not.

This past Tuesday was the ’Welcome Meeting’ for new members of the Uppsala Print Workshop. Now that I had completed an introductory screen-print course I was eligible for membership which I applied for and received. We were only two of the seven new members at the meeting so it didn’t take as long to go through all the procedures, hints, and tips for everything from getting in to the building and using the communal kitchen to where various pieces of equipment should be stored (and where they often are to be found if they are not where they should be) to buying one’s own equipment and materials.
As a member I simply book myself in to work there as and when it suits me, there is basic equipment and materials that can be borrowed and / or used at very cheap rates. I think I would like to team up with one of the other artists on the course for the first few times that I am there without the watchful eye and great support of our tutor Gijs.

The course was organised by the cultural development part of the County Council (a sister department to the department where I work half-time) and was for practising artists. We were six though one dropped out after the first session due to other commitments. The first of the five sessions began with a study visit to the Medical History Museum – a wonderfully curious place a short walk away from the building where both the print workshop and my studio are – these and many other buildings were once parts of Uppsala’s psychiatric hospital. The museum and the enthusiastic, relatively recently appointed, director proved a wealth of information which we were tasked with taking inspiration from. Back in the workshop I felt something I imagine akin to what the students I worked with on the textile collage project seemed to experience – an overload of inspiration in tandem with being asked to respond in a new medium.

I finished that first session without a clue as to what I would do. That evening, in conversation with L, I realised that I am not used to producing a two-dimensional image – I work with three dimensional materials even if they result something very much concerned with image. My chatting with L led to me deciding to make a type of fanzine booklet combining different sources of inspiration from both the museum and my own (good) health. The second session was spent making the layout including ink drawings on acetate, a stencil cut from black card, found text treated with vegetable oil to make the paper translucent. Gijs diligently led us through the stages of preparing the screens with UV sensitive emulsion. Some fellow participants worked rapidly and managed to create their first screen that evening. I was happy that I had created the layout for my tiny publication. While others got on with printing their first colour and making their second screens I did not have much success in either of the third or fourth session. My ambition to try out different variations of stencil was causing multiple difficulties. So everything was resting on the fifth and final session. Thankfully I learned from my mistakes and had good guidance from Gijs … which meant that by the end of that evening I had an edition 72 little fanzines drying on the racks. I picked up the dried prints on Tuesday at the Welcome Meeting.

I’m this first person to have made a fanzine at the workshop – which struck me as odd as the place has been running more than four years now. It also struck me that made an object rather than an image – old habits die hard!

The format of the fanzine – a single sheet with images on one side folded and cut once to create an eight page booklet – really appeals to me. I like the idea of producing similar things in conjunction with future exhibitions and projects … a kind of limited edition, yet low value, give-away that replaces a traditional exhibition text.




It’s not that I don’t have a lot on – I do – it’s that somehow for some reason things don’t feel so burdensome. It crosses my mind momentarily that perhaps they should!

It was good fun to go around the commercial Market Art Fair. It was a beautiful spring day, work were paying my travel expenses, my work-sponsored membership of the International Council of Museums took care of the entrance fee, and I am able to claim back the time from my working week … with all of that in place how could the trip not be (a) jolly. It was also very nice to run in to two Supermarket volunteers working at Market (I wonder if they got paid there). And a nice young curator who I met when she was working at a gallery in Stockholm was there with a gallery from Oslo – I hadn’t ever thought about how galleries might temporarily employ ’local’ assistants rather than having to cover the costs of bringing their staff with them.
So I was looking at things with at least two hats on: as an arts professional looking for trends and potential purchases for the region’s collection, and as an artist seeing what my commercial colleagues are up to. There was not a lot that jumped out as immediately appropriate for the kinds of environments where the region has art – if you exclude their own offices. Much of the figurative imagery included bodies that could too easily be too challenging encountered in a hospital waiting room, and the more abstract pieces tended towards to either dirty muddy tones or a palette reminiscent of the 70s. There were of course some spectacular works that would be great in gleaming modern corporate headquarters.
The artist me felt that I could produce equivalent work if I was a full-time studio artist … but I’m not … so I don’t … and that was a bit tender, but no more than a bit. There’s no point in getting too caught up in wishing that I had had other opportunities or that I had had a different attitude when I was younger.

After a good few hours there and listening to two panel discussions – one interesting one about collecting, and one rather less focussed one about the up surge of textile in contemporary practice, I really could not tell if the majority of the panel were struggling with English or just struggling – and treating myself to good lunch, I made my way to the north of the city to go an event at an artist-run studios and gallery. On my way it struck me that there are broadly two types of artists: project based artists, and product based artists – the two Stockholm fairs, Supermarket and Market reflect the distinct though not necessarily exclusive ways of being. Perhaps I have not been particularly successful at either because I have never really committed to either.



I wonder if my feelings about the work at Market (held at Liljevalchs) might be affected by having shown in the same rooms in Spring Exhibition.  I will admit to being particularly interested to see what was hanging on ‘my wall’ …





Saturday morning and I am at the studio … I haven’t been here enough recently so am taking the opportunity to be here today. I need to be here … ’need’ at an emotional level … this is both where I feel the most me and where I work out (literally) who I am. I feel out of sorts when I am away from the the studio for too long … I lose my sense of self … or at the very least that sense lessens and becomes misty … unclear.

The studio is not an entirely easy place to be. It makes demands on me. It requires me to confront things about myself … things that seem to be becoming more urgent … it requires me to be who I am … or rather to work out who I am. Perhaps that’s it – the studio is a place for working out. Working out in an artistic sense, just as the gym is a place for working out in a physical sense. Studio as a place for exercises and training … for becoming.

This time last week I was on my way in to Stockholm to collect my tie-drapes – which were packed away by the technicians at Liljevalchs after the Spring Exhibition closed, they are in their boxes behind me in the studio. I also picked up A’s unsold painting and delivered it to her gallery (her other two works in the show sold) – I am going to ask her how she came to be working with the gallery. I had a brief and nice chat with the gallery owner/director. He admitted to not having made it to the exhibition. I guess that he wasn’t the only gallerist who didn’t go. He asked if I had seen the show, I am pleased that I, without thinking, answered that I was in it which lead him to ask who I am. Luckily I had picked up an extra copy of the catalogue so I was able to show him my entry in it – which coincidentally is on the same page as A’s (she is Mas… , I am May…). It wasn’t much but it was something … it as me letting someone in the commercial art world know that I exist.

After that I made my way to an opening at another gallery. I had been told about the opening by an artist friend who I met at Supermarket. She is represented by the gallery and I had forgotten that she mentioned this to me some time ago. I recently saw a selection of her work on the gallery’s website when I was looking up information about an artist whose work is in Region Uppsala’s collection. It turns out that the gallery represents two artists whose work has (relatively) recently been bought by the region. Unfortunately my artist friend was invigilating at an artist-run gallery on the other side of town last Saturday so we were unable to meet. My friend has been campaigning for the gallery to get in touch with me … but they have not done so … turning up at their opening was a convenient way to meet them. The long conversation with both my friend’s friend who is the gallery director’s mother and the gallery director herself ended the way all other conversations with commercial galleries have ended – we like you, we like your work, but we can’t sell it so we can’t work with you.  They made polite noises about possible future performance / installation opportunities though these were very vague. I understand their (economic) need to work with artists whose works they can sell, however I also think that a good gallerist is someone who sells work that they believe in rather than simply, and lazily, taking on artists whose work is easy to sell . If I am going to work with, have a relationship with, a commercial gallery it has got to be a gallery who are passionate about what I do and who are passionate about promoting artists that they believe in … not just those where they see an easy sale. Even if they were interested in me I am not sure that I am so interested in them! I didn’t get the impression that they know how to generate excitement and buzz around their artists. I didn’t get the impression that they want to make a big splash in the art scene. I didn’t get the impression that they could convince anyone that their artists are among the most interesting, relevant, and necessary, artists working in Sweden today. What I did get was a much clearer idea about the kind of gallerist that I would like to work with – someone charismatic, passionate, and enthusiastic, someone daring, brave, and adventurous, someone just a little bit crazy!