On Tuesday I met Klas for lunch to discuss a possible studio that he has found. We met at the vegetarian, organic, local produce cafe here in town – I was surprised and pleased to meet some people from the gym there also enjoying their ‘buffet lunch’, it has been quite a while since I lived somewhere where I just bump into people to pass the time of day with. As the studio is not really part of Klas’ work for the council a chat over lunch was a good way to get together. It was great to hear a little more about the potential studio, and to hear more about Klas’ own work!
The studio, which I cycled out to last Sunday, would be part of the first floor of a barn that is a couple of kilometers out of town. And although I could only see the exterior of the building it certainly is a good size and not too far away. The owner has said that he will insulate 50 square meters and that we could have a simple short-term contract. It is not quite what I imagined as a studio but it could work. After speaking with Klas and looking at his website again I think it could be very good, and inspiring, for me to share with him!
We also spoke about some other seemingly vacant properties in town – nearer to the station than the waterfront. In the light of possibly taking on one of these larger spaces I put out an announcement on a general Enköping facebook group to see if there were others who might like to get involved. So far I have had eight people express positive interest which is great. A larger studio premises would probably take longer to arrange but in the long run it could be more sustainable and potentially more significant in terms of establishing a collective studio here.
The almost tangible prospect of having a proper studio again is very exciting. And by ‘proper’ I mean somewhere outside of my own apartment. I am not going to analyse why I find it so hard to make art at home, I am just going to accept that it does not work for me. Part of my excitement is also the anticipation of having a proper bedroom – the living room more than adequately accommodates my bed but it will be so much nicer to have more defined rooms – systems and structures!
It really seems as though I moved to Enköping at just the right time: not only is it fantastic that Klas (another recent resident) is here, but the whole arts department is working on a new long-term cultural policy and they have re-introduced a couple of (modest) arts grants that were cut by the previous centre-right council. I am going to apply for two grants: one for my own practice, and one for a pilot ‘community project’. I think that I stand a better chance with the project application as I think that I might be seen as too established/professional for the individual award which, reading between the lines, seems to favour young/new artists. Though I would argue that I am still an ’emerging artist’ (is that expression still used, or does it date me?).
After a day in town, or rather the city, I am feeling inspired to get on with making things – things that I have already begun to dream of, and some new things inspired by visiting the Royal Armoury museum and the opening night of a fashion design retrospective. I found/find myself having an internal discussion about these new ideas, or perhaps ‘internal argument’ is a more fitting description! Over lunch with Klas we spoke about making and intuition, about how an artists’ role is to make without necessarily being too concerned with the meaning of a piece – or rather to allow the meaning to come though the making. Our conversation touched on many of my concerns about the imperative for artists to be researchers – to be consciously seeking solutions, resolutions, to be too knowing in and of their practice*. And yet as these wonderful new ideas and images swirl and fill my mind I find myself wondering what they mean and how they sit with my previous work, how they fit with my own understanding of what my practice is concerned with, and how other people will read them. I find myself virtually censoring my ideas, dismissing them or trying to corral them into some neat and tidy enclosure, and when they resist – as surely they must – then I wonder if they are worthwhile at all. How foolish I can be! Of course they are worthwhile, they are things that need to be made simply to see what happens when they are material.
*I do not think that artistic research necessarily demands this, however the over academisisation of the subject, and the seemingly universally complicit understanding that the arts need to come up to ‘scientific standards’ has created what I see as overly wordy, theoretical, tedious, and homogeneous practices that are all too often devoid of the wonder and delight that art can furnish the world with.
I need to be strong in my belief in art as offers for discussion, contemplation, and wonder – it is important for me to be reminded to make things that invite new and different ways to experience and imagine the world. I need to dare to do things that I do not yet understand, I need to dare to dream, and to trust myself unreservedly.
Yesterday was All Saints – a day of remembrance and lighting candles for loved ones. It is hard for me to describe the atmosphere of the early winter evening as people make their way to churchyards, there is a kind of quietude that is unlike anything else. There is a shared and silent understanding of our purpose, a quiet respect for the stranger’s loss, an almost palpable sense of compassion. I lit a candle for John and another for Grandma, and placed them amongst the others in the memorial garden. Both John and Grandma where incredibly social and loved to be at the centre of things, it seemed only fitting that their flames should shine amid a party of lights. I spent a little time in the dark chill thinking about these two, their lust for life, their charisma, their dark eyes and cheeky smiles, their flirtatious ways, and reminded myself that sometimes I could be a little more like them and perhaps a little less myself! I took out my hip-flask and raised a toast to two much loved and much missed souls.