I am starting to feel rather anxious about the end of year presentations for the course that I have been taking at Mejan. I have thoroughly enjoyed Following Eugène however I am not sure that what I have to present. This morning I started to retrace the walk between Eugène’s studio and the Thielska Gallery. About a third of the way along the route my little pocket camera, which I had been using to snap the statues on the way, stopped working. This camera has developed an intermittent and very frustrating fault where is fails to focus and to close. On several occasions I have been close to buying a replacement as I like to have a camera with me most of the time and I have such an old mobile phone that the camera is meaningless. Despite my best efforts the camera refused to work and I lost the will to continue the walk. Perhaps this was dumb. I could have continued but I had in mind that the walk would provide me with a photo series. Strangely the first time I did the walk the camera failed at about the same point in the journey – is this something I should take note of?
I am beginning to have some sense of the Eugène’s experience of the city – though I wonder if the financial support (and subsequent friendship) of Thiel was the only reason for the dramatic shift in Eugène’s practice seen in his painting between 1904 and 1907. Having somewhere suitable to live and work as well as some kind of income could certainly be a major factor. This rings true with me as I continue to consider my options regarding how and where to live. The city is increasingly challenging for artists to negotiate – even for artists who are established and successful. The association where I have my studio has only 18 months remaining on its contract and there are plans to redevelop the whole site as a new residential district. While the site owners have indicated that our building will be one of the last to be demolished we will be on a yearly contract rather than a 10 year one. After years in London a year long contract sounds relatively attractive however it seems that there are a number of the larger studios in the same position which in the worse case could result in a couple of hundred artists all looking for studios at about the same time! There are smaller collective studios, perhaps it is time to find out what their waiting lists are like!
I remain hopeful that I will find a suitable place somewhere in the countryside not too far from the city. The former school, which I admit was unnecessarily large, became too expensive in a rather exciting bidding war!
Perhaps the underlying theme of my work is one of artistic sustainability. How do we artists keep doing what we need to do in an increasingly market driven environment?
What can Eugène teach me?