Why talk about illness when talking about art and ideas is so much more interesting and comfortable? Because in the end a professional art-practice comprises of more than making the work – after all it needs to be exposed to other eyes and minds, preferably in exhibitions of quality; needs to enter in conversations with other pieces, in different contexts, be allowed to reveal new aspects. Have a social life! And all being well sell one day too.

The point of writing here, exactly here, as part of a-n talking, with its audience of artists and art professionals, is that, alongside introducing my art, I want to speak about how illness can place you and your work outside the art-loop. And try to find ways of addressing that.

It’s taken a bit of soul-searching. My first impulse is to be evasive about the extent of ‘my’ M.E., for all kinds of reasons, personal and professional:

• I hate the effects of being ill, how it slows me down so treacherously, curbs control and independence and makes my world smaller.

• I keep thinking improvement is just around the corner.

• I am worried that it will negatively affect, even dispel, offers of opportunities to exhibit my work.

• I don’t want to be labeled.

• I don’t want my art seen through its prism.

• I have times when I judge myself for being ill. (That’s not being helped by the prevailing complacent attitudes towards people with M.E.)

• And last year, which after all was a good one in terms of visibility of my art, here and abroad, I had hoped that my work would pull me bodily out into the world too. Didn’t.

It’s a fact: my work still travels better than I do!

And here is a small piece of mine: How near I had forgot was shown at Collectible, curated by Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley, which ended yesterday. Guess who was at the private view, beaming!

Materials: Crocheted from artificial hair
Dimensions: 16 cm x 12 cm


Decision-time: My art-life needs to change. Or should I say evolve? Have been thinking hard these last few months about what I can do and how I can do it.

The thing is, I’ve got M.E. and it affects every part of my life, including my art-practice. And while I’ve found ways of adapting my practice to my physical circumstances – I started crocheting because I could do it lying down – it’s a real struggle to communicate with other artists and art professionals on a regular basis. Due to the severity of ‘my’ M.E. I am mostly housebound, don’t have a studio and rarely make it to exhibitions, private views, seminars, workshops and all those other places where you talk about ideas, projects, possible exhibitions, and need to explore different ways of connecting into the artworld. I’m not completely out of the loop though and very occasionally appear at a private view like a Jackie in the box who is catapulted into the world for a brief but enthusiastic instance and then falls limply back with this formidable fatigue closing over her like a lid. Again.

But: No more (or at least less) agonizing about missing all those opportunities for networking with other artists, gallerists, curators, and how that affects if and how my work makes it into the world – time to try myself out in new, mostly digital, ways.

I would like to make my case: Because of illness I may be limited in what I can do/where I can go, but my art is good (even if I say so myself) and will out. I’ve made tentative moves towards twitter and facebook and would like to write about my art-practice here, which includes talking about how my ability to get on in the (art)world is affected by my physical circumstances. I’ve already been writing a blog elsewhere for a couple of years, have enjoyed some lively and meaningful exchanges with other artists but havn’t managed to post or read as often as I would like. My focus needs to shift! I’m worried that I won’t have much energy left for making work, but feel I’m at a crossroads and need to give this a go, see where it takes me. So here I am. Hey there.

(Thank you to Rosalind Davis who encouraged me to blog here)