Tomorrow Klas and I have another look at a potential new studio. I really want, and need, to find somewhere to settle and get on with making. Without such a place it is all to easy for me to fritter away the days when I am not working elsewhere – I truly admire artists who are able to produce work at their kitchen table or in the bedroom, and sometimes I even doubt that I am an artist as I am unable to do likewise. However I am old enough to recognise that I am the kind of person who needs specific places for specific tasks. I get annoyed with myself for being tempted to believe that artists can (almost ‘should’) produce work no matter the conditions. I need a degree of calm and order for me to be able to work – it is as simple, or as complex, as that. Here’s hoping that the space is as appealing on the second viewing!
Speaking of distractions and working practices – I am about to turn down some paid work in order to prioritise my own ‘unpaid’ work. This is not something that I find easy to do. It is important that I take myself and my own work seriously – not the first time I have said that but it is worth repeating. Nor is it a revelation that for my own practice to develop and succeed it requires nurturing. New Year is an appropriate time to try and establish new patterns and routines!
Getting my hopes and dreams out of my head and into the physical world is equally exciting and daunting. Perhaps now that I feel/am more established here in Enköping I can take that vital step. I feel very naive about the art world and have always been frightened to ask for help and advice, frightened of (more) rejection. Calling it an ethical-political decision I never approached commercial galleries as a young artist, and at the same time I failed to build an alternative support structure or network. So I have always depended on part-time and casual work to finance my practice, the reality is that the demands of that kind of work – regular time commitments and/or having to be available – are becoming increasingly challenging. I am delighted that I have a half-time contract (for the coming six months) with the arts department however not being free to pick and choose when I work is surprisingly frustrating. I might have created my own millstone with the ‘Creative Saturday’ workshops that both the council and the participants want me to run every week. I do not really understand why it is so complicated to get someone else to run the sessions when I am away or have other commitments.
[Saturday morning continuation ….]
It was good, in several ways, to make Thursday evening’s round of gallery openings in Stockholm. Firstly it was nice to catch-up with people who I do not see so regularly – even a quick ‘hello’ is enough to remind me how important it is to keep in touch with the wider world, and it’s lovely to know that people remember me. Secondly it was inspiring to see such a range of objects, ideas, ambitions, and ways be being an artist. After the Christmas holiday project with asylum seekers here in Enköping it made me smile to see a large papier-mâché sculpture at possibly the most academic of the commercial galleries. We worked with papier-mâché and it got me thinking about its viability as a more accessible and environmentally friendly alternative to other malleable materials (it is based on renewable, recycled and bi-products of the paper industry, and it does not need firing in a kiln for example). The size/scale of sculptural pieces also gave me food for thought. While I am excited about the possibility of working big, I can see that making work that is more modest in size might increase its saleability – at least while I remain an unknown artist. And there is no reason why a number of smaller pieces could not be used in an installation. Obviously there are advantages in terms of both time and materials in working on a small scale.
So with my head full of thoughts about making seeing the potential for a good studio on the lower ground floor of an old school gym was very exciting. The whole building is owned by the council’s sister property company who had hoped to turn it in to flats, however it’s listed status prevents its facade being altered by additional windows, and therefore severely limits its residential potential. After looking around Klas and I discussed how other parts of the building would make a great spaces for the council’s plans to develop creative arts education and vocational training in the crafts. We just need to find the ‘right’ way to sell the idea to our unnecessarily cautious council!
Returning to thoughts about my own practice and feeling settled here in Enköping – it seems to be the right time to be a little more active in my approaches to both work and materials. Many years ago my dear friend Sheila commented that it took her about three years to get going every time she moved home and/or studio (it was a period when she moved quite regularly and often). This year will be my third in Enköping and I am aware that I have a sense of (all pervasive) confidence that I have not had for some time.
I think that 2018 is going to be a good year!