Back to my tutorial with Freddie Robins at ZAP, which I found very productive, albeit in unexpected ways. I’m so glad that I’ve got an audio-recording to review, thanks to Rosalind Davis (whose name I’ve never mentioned before … bazinga!). It meant I didn’t need to take notes – as a consequence the conversation flowed and we covered a lot of ground. I almost didn’t ask if I could borrow the equipment, felt awkward about needing yet another thing when Rosalind was already plumping up the sofa-cushions, promising tea and smiles and to wheel me to the studios once the cab delivered me at ZAP’s door, but ask I did and all was gracefully delivered.
I hung comfortably on said sofa, with the pieces I brought laid out on a small table, and a list of questions in my head. Apart from feedback for my work I mostly hoped for pointers to galleries/curators/collectors who might be interested in the kind of art I produce. After all it sits on the threshold between fine and applied art, which I quite like – in-between seems a good place to be, but things are more complicated. I see myself as a visual artist, with a conceptual bent, who crochets lying down, because crochet allows me to frame childhood memory in a very direct, tangible way. When I show work the feedback tends to be really good but I never never never ever sell.
Looking at exhibition opportunities I often don’t know what category to tick, as usually the media of drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, maybe video are specified. I tend to go for multimedia, if that’s an option, but of course can’t be sure that crochet will be at all considered. Occasionally I apply under the tag of textile art (last year I had work at a Kaunas Biennial), but it’s also a label I’m not comfortable with, as I find it too restrictive. During the tutorial it became clear that it’s not easy to place the kind of work I produce. Disappointing but also constructive in that it’s a realistic assessment and hopefully I can develop a strategy from here. We agreed that my work needs and deserves exposure and considered what kind of environment I’d like to see my work in, incl. a couple of public places where I’d thought my work could shine. Freddie was a bit shocked when I didn’t much respond to names of applied artists who make concept-driven work. Fact is, I’ve just not looked that way – time to change that. Need to do a lot of googling. I also need to stop excluding opportunities to show in craft contexts. A kind of opening up, really.
We touched on other subjects too, but I’ll keep that for another post. In some ways the tutorial has thrown up more questions than answers, but questions are good. It’s become clearer to me what I need to focus on to work towards a professional art-future. Do you know of The Arthouse in Wakefield? Their ethos is to include disabled artists in every possible way, without labeling, by making the art produced the centre and taking the artist’s circumstances into account, offering unobtrusive support if and where needed – in the most natural way. I had my first solo-show there in 2010 and am now getting gigantic help towards putting together a Grant for the Arts-application, to find a curator/mentor with whom I can work and develop my practice, make connections for me/with me, get my work into the world, find and engage with new audiences. And at the same time researching the barriers disabled artists can face, help consider and in the end different ways of linking into the artworld. Cross your fingers!
By the by, this week I’ve been feasting my eyes on Maria Nepomuceno’s work after seeing a tiny image of her work at Frieze, printed in the Observer. Fits right in with what I’m thinking about…
Materials: polyeste, mercerised cotton
Dimensions: 25 cm x 37 cm