I was commissioned to make an installation after a break from my work. We all need a break now and again – it recharges you and refreshes your brain .

So this blog is about starting  again . Scroll a bit to learn more about the commission, as my recent posts are about what’s happening now .

 


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I started writing blog posts a couple of times and then abandoned them.
I had too much going on outside and writing seemed a bit irrelevant.

I delivered my ‘Make a Bee to remember’ at the museum, which was successful but really exhausting. As well as it being a full house, 5 men turned up and that never happens. Why is it usually only women that go to workshops?

It added an interesting dynamic to the group anyway.

Later on, I went to the pv of the Liverpool art fair. The marketing for this was really impressive , with a huge turnout .  The exhibition is on til mid August and it seems to have a steady flow of visitors. Whether my works sell is another matter. They seemed so small in the midst of such a vast array of styles.

So as per usual, I posted images on social media and got the usual sprinkling of ‘meh’.

In between workshops , artwork and PVs, I had family stuff going on, decorating my own house and helping my son with an apartment/ flat (whatever you want to call it) in the City.
Not wildly interesting you may think, but when I got there I realised that the building was the setting for a group exhibition we had many years ago.
The building – a former warehouse and offices , had at the time , been converted to apartments.  One of the art handlers  ( we all worked at Tate Liverpool at the time) knew someone associated with the building  who let us set up an exhibition in the vast corridors . It really looked impressive and I only wish I still had images from the time .
But I posted an IG image of the present courtyard anyway to remind me of that happy time.

Surprisingly, that got quite a response from people who never comment or like anything I post.

It got me thinking – or rather it reminded me, that we’re not just artists, we are people with lives .  People who follow us on social media are mostly artists who are bored to death of seeing other people’s artworks and especially ‘success stories’ , so I have to remember to be more varied in what I post or write.

And on that note, if anyone is interested, I went to see Beyond Van Gogh , the ‘immersive experience’ at The Liverpool exhibition centre yesterday.

It wasn’t something I was vastly interested in and at £26 admission charge, I completely dismissed the idea.  I then received a discount voucher code by email.  At such a reduced rate, I gave it a go.
Despite going late morning on a week day, it was surprisingly busy . Peeping over to look at the cost of other visitors tickets and comments made to me later, I know most people paid the full price.
It was just one room with projections on the wall and despite the huge amount of visitors, there were very few seats.
I did enjoy it, but I think I’d be annoyed if I’d paid full price.

I’d taken my son’s dog for a walk first thing ( yes I’m dog sitting again) so I could leave him for a few hours while I was out.  I then miscalculated how far the walk was from the city centre to the exhibition centre , so by mid afternoon I’d clocked up 12,000 steps and over 4 miles.

So no, I haven’t done any artwork. I’d be surprised if I even moved today 🙄


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This weekend saw me battling through the crowds of pink Stetson and silver cowboy booted fans of Taylor Swift , to deliver my work to Liverpool’s Liver Building for The Liverpool Art fair, opening later this month.
It’s a first for me as I wouldn’t have done something so ‘commercial’ in the past.
With having had a couple of rejections in the last 6 months, it was good to be accepted for such a large event.

It’s a week on from the open studios and I still have boxes from it dumped in the spare room, yet to be sorted. I can’t deal with it now.
It was a huge amount of work and I’ve yet to formulate any feelings about the success ( or not) of it all.
Maybe that takes time.

In the meantime, my work headed off to Sluice in Colchester via Leeds based Basement Arts Project

https://sluice.info/colchester

It was too far for me to go and as I had to deliver the work to the other venue this weekend anyway, I had to watch what was happening from afar.
Images of my work have been picked up several times and posted on instagram, so that was good to see. Haven’t heard how it’s going otherwise.
Apart from posting the work off to Leeds, It hasn’t cost me anything , which is another positive – after the small fortune I had to pay out for the open studio event !
It was really a return favour for taking the artists from Basement’s work to Athens last October.

It really is important to connect and collaborate with other artists.

The rest of my week has been taken up preparing for my next workshop of ‘Make a bee to remember’. I wish they hadn’t advertised it that way. It makes it look like we’ll be creating something wonderful and that puts me under huge amount of pressure.
I had several attempts to make something, abandoning my initial idea as that seemed to be too complicated . Anyone else out there who runs workshops will understand the amount of prep work that has to go into these things.

I’d been on a charity shop run to find beads to recycle and reuse so I think I’ve got a plan.

I hope this works, despite it looking simple, it’s been so stressful thinking up an idea.

Wish me luck !


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On Sunday morning , while I was charging my phone and zettle card reader, I really wished there had been a charging point for me.
Open studios are exhausting .

There had been a community group session in the hall on the Friday, so we were told we could set up when they left – around 3.30.

I had, what I thought at the time, a huge amount of stuff with me – a large suitcase filled with small works, and several packages  of larger works.
I’d  also bought 2 packs of paper tablecloths.
Tables and a free standing board were provided, so I screwed the smaller paintings to the board and put larger ones on easels – also provided.  The easels looked a bit naff ( for want of a better word) but it was the best I could do.
I turned round to look at what the other artists had and was shocked to see how much work they had. As regularly participants at art fairs , they had all of the professional display stands with large black cloths for the tables.

Being used to showing my work in exhibitions,  with clean white gaps between the works, it was hard for me to adapt to showing in this environment.

My display  was pretty pathetic looking in comparison- especially with the easels and some of my framed works on chairs.
I went home feeling totally dejected.

I didn’t sleep a wink that night, tossing and turning trying to think of how I could improve my display with the limited resources I had.
I had a large sheet of a textile print of trees, which used to be on a frame  but I’d taken it off and shoved it aside while I thought of what to do with it. I grabbed that, along with a pile of smaller works, loads of my handmade books and some ‘props’ – a wooden house I’d used in an installation and 2 model hands. They were actually broken, but filled a gap and looked quirky enough to draw attention.

I got there ( by taxi) as the doors opened at 9 and completely rearranged my display – grabbing another table and taking the paintings off the chairs and easels / propping them up on the wall at the back of the table instead.
It looked a million times better and several people commented on it looking good.

I tried to count people that visited on Saturday and although I missed a few, I definitely got to 190.
I don’t think I’d ever seen that many people in one go visit work before. ( Well not in this country anyway!)
I sold a lot of cards by cash as they were pretty cheap and I had to run across the room with the card reader to ask for help, but I got the hang of it.
Sunday seemed quieter , but as people were coming in waves there were quiet gaps. I still counted the same amount  of people as Saturday though.
There were more interest in my books than sales , but I was ok with that.
I was there for people to get to know me and looking at the hits on my website later on, that had worked .

So what did I learn?

  • Display/ presentation is everything !
  • More is better
  • Learn from others
  • Draw people to your work
  • Where you stand/ sit is important
  • Engage , Engage,  Engage

 

 


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Well I say I’m preparing, but realistically I’ve only spent a few hours putting small paintings and cards into cellophane bags.
I really don’t know what people expect to see, so I’m playing safe and having a range of affordable works in the unlikely event that people will buy something.

I haven’t done an open studio for years and now I’m kind of regretting saying that I’d do it .

Do I even have enough work? How much do people show?

How many visitors will actually turn up ?

There are 99 artists in the tour this year – a record amount according to the publicity . If I was going around visiting, I’d find that too much , no matter how enjoyable the work was.
There are 10 of us in the building I’m in, so at least that cuts down the walking distance for a visitor.
Today , I’ll sort out what to take out of my larger works. I’m hoping that there will be a board left for me ( which I requested) otherwise I don’t know how I’ll display the work.
Unlike some of the other artists that have their own studios and can keep their work up , we have hired the space for the weekend , so it will be a case of going in on Friday afternoon and set up some kind of display then.
I wonder if the artists who decide to have the open studio in their own homes know of the problems that may cause?

I’ve heard several horror stories about artists not declaring that there would be a change of use from house insurance to business, among other things. I hope the artists are aware.
Anyway…

I had framed a few small paintings which I’m quite pleased with, but I’ve now been told that they’ve been accepted for the Liverpool art fair. Technically I can still show them, but can’t have them for sale . Sigh.

Would it be unethical if I had a studio sale of older works? I really need to clear a space .
Will people be bothered that I’m not showing an installation?
Argh so many worries and doubts.
Why do we put ourselves through these things???


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