It feels as though I am caught in a bit of a vicious circle (or is that ’cycle’ – no matter). It is the start the of the funding application season here in Sweden: artists’ grants and awards as well as project funding, travel awards, and residencies, being offered at local, regional, and national levels. Any of these would be fantastic to receive, all of these are vital to apply for. Applying is seen as an artist taking their practice and career seriously – after all why would you not apply if you could?
And this is where I become unstuck, or rather stuck in that vicious circle. I am so busy doing other things that I do not have the time to make good applications. I am confident that an award enabling me to work full-time in my studio would be hugely beneficial to my practice and could easily lead to exhibition opportunities and to commissions and even sales. However the time that is committed to my paid employment and my voluntary work in the arts sector means that have neither sufficient time nor thinking space for my own practice, which in turn leads to me submitting poor applications that are (understandably) unsuccessful.
And because my applications are unsuccessful I need to remain in my paid employment to pay my bills – including my studio rent and materials, and I remain on voluntary committees to maintain some visibility … and then I have neither time nor material to make good applications …
How to break this cycle?
One application that I must make, and make well (whatever that means in this particular context) is the application for an artists’ mentoring programme. Last year I made an unsuccessful application for funding a mentor to me … I wonder if my application might have inspired this new programme (which is being offered by the authority that I made my application to). Hopefully my current situation makes me a good candidate for this professional artistic career mentoring.
It is relatively easy for me to identify distinct areas of my practice where I would like mentoring. And of course I am open for my mentor to say whether I have identified the most appropriate areas or not! My fantasy mentor is someone who works with both public commissions and a commercial gallery, someone who shows in both Sweden and abroad, someone whose practice is both aesthetic and political. The media that my mentor works in is less important than their approach and experience. My fantasy mentor someone who will become both a colleague and friend. Am I expecting too much? Perhaps!
I realise that it is not enough to just want things. I need to do things to make them happen. One of most basic, yet hardest to do, is to be honest with myself about what I want. I can find all kinds of reasons why I find it hard to say what I want – the reasons might be interesting but they are kind of irrelevant. The most important thing is to communicate what I want and to find those who can help me get what I want.
Writing that last sentence made me rather uncomfortable. The words after ’ … and to find’ were hard to write. Asking for help does not come easily to me, asking to get what I want makes me feel greedy, selfish, and egoistic. This is something that I need to get some perspective on, perhaps it is something that will be explored directly and indirectly through the mentoring programme, which makes getting accepted on the programme even more urgent.
In other news …
At the risk of creating some kind of weird feedback loop I want to thank Elena Thomas and Kate Murdoch (and our other guests!) for an inspiring discussion at Tuesday evening’s Discussion Festival. Our starting point was the article that we co-authored about our long-form long-term blogs here on a-n. It was the first time that I have talked about the blog and blogging, and it was really great to speak about it with other bloggers, artists, and writers. It was fascinating to hear other people speak about their motivations and intentions, as well as their ways of writing. The evening gave me a lot to think about and was particularly relevant in the context of wanting to shift and shake things in my practice. Why not shift and shake things here in my blog too?
This post (on reflection) is pretty self-centred and introspective. I think that it follows a pattern that has developed over the recent months (years?). I am excited to break this and other habits!