Things are not working out the way that I had imagined that they would … this is not necessarily a bad thing … but it is a thing … a thing that I need to adjust to …
I was offered, and have accepted, the half-time position with the counties art department. This means that I will have a regular and secure income – no bad thing in these tough economic times – however it also means that I will not have my sabbatical year. I swing between thinking that I have made the wisest possible decision under the circumstances, and beating myself for my lack of courage and commitment to my practice. The ideal scenario would have been that I would find part/halt-time work towards the end of an enjoyable and productive year in the studio. Have I had good fortune in finding that job before the year, and my savings account, is spent … or have I wimped out and hit the emergency stop before I even really got started? As I say my mood, attitude, and reasoning swings …
Amongst artist friends, and colleagues, and in artists’ articles I hear (read) more and more about the fragility of the artist’s position, the challenges of maintaining a practice if one doesn’t have the (financial) support and or stability of a partner or family with economic security. Levels of project funding are not what they once were and at the same time costs are increasing. It’s no wonder that sustainability is a hot topic … many of us are wondering if being an artist is sustainable. Beside the pressure to work with sustainable materials and processes, to transport and exhibit our work sustainably, we are having to consider whether we can economically, physically, and mentally keep things ticking along. Actually it feels as though ’ticking along’ is never enough, I certainly feel that there are both internal and external expectations of progress … significant development … advancement.
Writing the yearly application for the artists’ working grant is always an ’interesting’ experience: it’s good to look back over the last five years of one’s practice and see the achievements … no need to account for or even mention the failures! … at the same time I am immediately aware of how much more I could have accomplished had I not had to earn income from other sources … had I had more time in the studio … had I had more time to apply for other exhibitions … had I had more time to follow up connections and leads. The intention with the the grant (if I understand it correctly) is to facilitate exactly these opportunities … to give artists a kind of base income for a year or two … to give artists time. At the same time, and on the other hand, it feels that unless one is already doing these things then the application probably lacks the substance that would make it successful … a catch 22! Additionally I know that I am far from the best application writer – so want to thank A for making me think about what the reader/panel wants to read rather than thinking about what I want to write/say, and I want to thank M for letting me see their previously successful application – it really helped to see how an artist whom I know and respect communicated their practice, intentions, ambitions, and frustrations in ways that made them accessible and desirable … it was an application expressing integrity, commitment, intelligence, and honesty, and I was left in no doubt as to why it had been approved for support.
(Which reminds me I need check and see if I have a reply from the Arts Council regarding my request for copies of some other successful applications. Successful applications become ’public information’ – produced on request – as the grants are made from public money meaning that the public has the right to see how ’their’ (tax) money is being spent.)
Logging in to my ’account’ with the Arts Council I can, if I choose to, see my previous applications – not a bad time-saving idea to copy and paste bits of the cv that are still relevant – I think that this year’s application is far stronger than last years … and the year before that. In April I will find out if it was strong enough to be selected.
I am delighted and excited to have been selected for the Liljevalchs Spring Exhibition 2024! (It is the equivalent of the RA Summer Show.). An artist friend at the studio – E – asked if was going to apply and I said that I wasn’t, E thought that one of the selection board might appreciate my work and that I should apply – so I did. E was right! Not only am I delighted and excited I am also rather surprised that all five pieces (the maximum one can submit) have been accepted – they are a series … but even when I found the Liljevalchs envelope in the mail box I imagined that one or two … at the most three … might be accepted but not all five! Being selected means a huge amount for me. It’s a show that I have visited many times over the years, the first time with John and Christina (his mum) on one of our holidays here. Since moving here the exhibition has been a (pretty) regular date with Christina. In the early years she encouraged me to apply which I started doing as soon as I had the necessary Swedish identity number. After a few years having to say that I hadn’t been selected we stopped talking about my applications, we just went along to see who and what was being shown. Last year I neither applied (artist friend P and I reasoning that it was more fun to spend the application fee on good wine), nor visited (Christina went with a friend as we couldn’t find a day that suited us both). How different things are … will be … this year!