ah, another cancellation. One thing I am learning already from this Re:view bursary is patience. Good things come to those who wait. I hope so. In the meantime I am plodding on developing ideas and stepping well out of my comfort zone.
…The meeting turned out to be a really enjoyable couple of hours in which the time flew by. At the end the curator said she had come to the meeting not knowing what she could offer me (and to be honest neither had I) but actually she would like to make a proposal. Would I allow her to mentor me? Not only that, but that she had a contact (who turned out to be curator B) who she felt she should also get on board to offer me a different angle of support. At this point I explained about RE:view, how I may be able to pay her for her time and how I had coincidentally left a message with curator B quite some time ago, asking whether she would like to be involved in a mentoring role.
We left with an agreement that she would contact curator B, that I would attempt to get the RE:view funding re-directed to support sessions with both of them, and that we would arrange some further dates to meet. I was then surprised to find, when I got home and looked at my e-mail , that during our meeting I had actually been contacted by curator B, who had apologised for the long delay, being abroad at the time, and who would be happy to offer some sessions of critical support with whatever payment I was able to contribute.
So in the end, by a rather wiggily and organic pathway, I have ended up with the three curators I wanted to engage with in the first place.
Unlike other recipients, I do not have a specific project to work through with these mentors, but rather I feel it will be a much more intuitive and organic process, leading me to where I’m not quite sure.
In one sense though, the process is already bearing fruit, as the first discussion I have had with curator A has reignited my enthusiasm for some quite ambitious projects that I had cast aside and have now taken the first steps to bring them alive again. This also coincided with a chance meeting with a much younger artist than me, discussing how difficult it was to take that first step with a project that took you right out of your comfort zone, but how important it was to get on and take it.
What all this has taught me, and what Re:view is revealing, is just how essential engagement with others is to constantly moving your work forward – that relationships need to be worked on and developed, and that of all the tools you can have as an artist, people are perhaps the most vital tool of all.
You can view ‘In my father’s house…’ at https://vimeo.com/66062510
Today I surprisingly have time to catch up with myself. Past weeks have been a blur of work and voluntary commitments. These appear to be unavoidable when you live in a village with the family at the local school. Raffle’s, summer fair plans, and – if you’re the only artist in the village – a constant run of art related jobs.
All done now, this should have been the first day of my Re:view sessions. Cancelled due to the curator’s illness however, the session has been postponed to next Friday (which is actually my birthday but I’ll keep that quiet.) Reading on a-n about the journey of three unrepresented artists though, I thought it would be good to explain the path which brought me in contact with the mentors I have chosen. I will call these curators A,B and C for the moment as I have not discussed with them if I have permission to write about them in any detail.
At the time of writing my Re:view proposal curators A and B were two people I very much wanted to work with. Curator A I knew was out of the country so there was little point in contacting her as the deadline was fast approaching and curator B proved equally slippery to get hold of. Curator C is a London based gallery who offer an intense one-to-one session of critical dialogue that I know from others has been extremely helpful to their work. This is a gallery I have shown with before and who I know have a level of respect for my work.I specifically wanted a mix of input into my practice from individuals but also from an established, structured session such as this gallery offers, to gain as broad a range of support as possible. It was also important to me to work with people I had already established some form of relationship with.
In the end I shaped the Re:view proposal around curators C, adding a couple of other contacts. I knew that this was exactly the right moment in my practice to undertake such dialogue but I still felt I haven’t quite hit the nail on the head with my choices. The Re:view grant was awarded and I couldn’t have been happier. During this time I was working on a video piece called ‘In my father’s house…’. It is an intensely personal piece of work utilising three pieces of footage, which, when recorded were never originally intended to be used. Despite my reservations at working with such personal material, somehow this work demanded to be made and on finishing it I found it impossible to stand back far enough emotionally to gain a more objective audience view. I did something then I’ve never done before and sent a link to the work to 3 curators I know personally, asking for their feedback.
One was curator A, a very respected and talented freelance curator who focuses specifically on digital media and film. Some time, long before the RE:View offer, at a group show where curator A was chairing the discussion panel, I had a quick chat with her and we had agreed to meet up some months later when she returned from a long trip abroad. Over the years I think I have contacted this curator two or three times perhaps via e-mail for various reasons. When the date we had planned many months previously finally came up to meet, she had long forgotten about it and postponed. This happened once or twice until I sent her the video piece. She liked it, apparently had been tracking my work for a couple of years and eventually wanted to meet…
Returning to blogging on a-n is like picking up with an old friend again and I’m particularly happy to be returning as the recipient of an a-n Re:View bursary. Funding to facilitate critical dialogue around my work, firstly, is absolutely, totally the last thing I expected to find in this climate of cuts and secondly, absolutely, exactly what I needed at this stage in my practice. So I’m very happy.
For those of you that are new to my work, I put my original practice, with a back catalogue of exhibitions and international residencies etc, into hibernation to raise a large family, and in 2008, before they were quite done, and after 10 years of endless nappies and broken nights, I got it out, dusted it off and began again. Since then I’ve been building up my work, exhibitions, contacts, expanding into new media, and generally making up for lost time. Last year was particularly frantic and this year I have taken my foot off the pedal somewhat with the sole intention of spending time in critical engagement with myself, my work and others. Luckily this has coincided with relationships with others developing to the point where they have suggested such a process and a-n kindly awarding me the bursary.
And so, quite unexpectedly, that brings us to now.