Snap! is over and Growing pains back with me, which is nice, even if I’d have liked it to find a loving home somewhere else, for a good price of course. I wished I could ask the work itself how it fared amongst the other pieces, if it made links or asserted its difference… Luckily I can peruse SLWA’s newly published, gorgeous women’s art-diary, get a mini-view of what was on show.

I haven’t left the house in 17 days. Not so bad if I’m still counting, but it’s the worst I’ve been in a while and feels like forever. ‘Normally’ (by my M.E.-standards) I get out once per week, and then need four, five days to get on my feet again. At the moment my body refuses verticality for more than a few minutes at a time. Hrrrmmmmphhh. But (as long as there is a but!): Although it can feel as if I’m whispering from within a deep, dark well I’m glad I started to write (and read) here; found some lovely comments and left a few too. It’s already making me feel more connected.

Really the internet is my most consistent link into the wider world. It is like an open window through which I speak, let down a basket on a string and lightly draw it back up, filled with groceries or books, wools and crochet-hooks or sky-blue shoes (which I haven’t worn yet), receive news from friends, near and afar, do research, look at art and hook up with its makers – at my own speed and without ever leaving home.

I started writing My art grows around me in 2007 and for the first time in years was able to present my work and get feedback. It was thrilling. Some really good discussions ensued. I made blogger-friends across the world but it all slowed down in 2010, when I had my first solo-show at the truly amazing Arthouse in Wakefield (will tell you more one day), and consequently focused my energies on exhibiting.

You might wonder why I came here to start a second blog when my energy is so limited. The thing is that I haven’t any new exhibitions lined up (about which I’m trying not to panic) and feel a bit directionless. A fresh start of some sort seems in order, to push my art practice and communicate with greater clarity and closer to home. I took part in a few really interesting and well-received exhibitions in the last two years and learned a lot, can say: I am an artist! almost without hesitation – now it’s time to explore virtual modes of connection and communication. Here I am quite comfortable. About Twitter and Facebook I remain warily curious, their facility for direct, almost effortless self-promotion makes me want to scurry under a table every time I post something.

Baby steps again.

About a-one who set off to learn about fear (2004, edition of 2)
Incidentally my first crochet-piece. The title is appropriated from a Grimm’s fairy tale, which of course sends a boy out into the big wide world.

Materials: crocheted wool and cotton wool, cardboard, rags and polyester filling
Dimensions: 39 cm x 20 cm x 22 cm


At my most fatigued I can only be. Lie somewhere, motionless, without speech, an old rusty submarine sunk to the bottom of a stoic sea. During such periods my art (and my writing) become a rickety periscope which sometimes appears above sea-level, as this week, when Growing pains is in snap!, an exhibition with SLWA at Bankside Gallery. Going through a bad patch just now I couldn’t get to the private view, meet the other artists, take in the art, the space, the relationships forming between pieces. But hey, I heard my work hangs in a good spot, was talked about, and what I esp. love: kids who took part in a workshop the next day were fascinated and wondered what kind of bodies it could fit. Wished I could have listened in…

My starting point here was a more general feeling of awkwardness: the strangeness of being embodied. I’d made a couple of tiny drawings – the work’s ultimate shape revealed itself while I crocheted. (I’m not sure if you an see from the photograph that there’s no opening for a head to push through, that I’ve made little pockets where the armpits would be and that the straps have been crocheted as tubes.)

The almost garish colours are unusual for me, I tend to work in muted, faded tones. It’s clear to me now how much this piece is about puberty, that time-span when our bodies seem to hurtle from one change to another and we can’t quite keep up, when we are torn between wanting to throw ourselves into life and its contingencies and hiding in our bedrooms, between boldness and brassiness and excruciating embarrassment, between thinking we know it all and being utterly flummoxed by being in the world.

Growing pains (2011)
Dimensions: 25 cm x 50 cm and 24.5 cm x 44 cm
Materials: crocheted from a virgin wool/polyester mixture


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)