On Saturday my exhibition at R-Space Gallery in Lisburn will come to a close. Although I haven’t been able to be there myself, haven’t sold anything, and had to relinquish final control about the presentation of my work (of course I prepared as best I could, wrote instructions, attached photos, but you know what I mean) it’s been a most rewarding experience for me, with unexpected opportunities for connections and laid-back learning curves. Bodywise things have been truly harrumph, standing and even sitting up (and keeping my eyes open) ever more challenging due to months of insomnia which brought extended daily periods of rag doll-impersonification. In nine weeks I only managed to leave the house twice (for medical appointments) – a real low – but having my art out in the world has given me boost and bounty.
When I delivered my artist’s talk via Skype during the private view bad weather conditions in Lisburn meant that transmission was of the fickle kind. Last Thursday and Friday ArtTalks:ArtWalks, led by Amanda Croft, brought small groups of visitors to the show, and to my delight Robert Martin, director of R-Space Gallery, suggested we give Skype another go. Everything worked well, and I much enjoyed the Q&A-sessions. Two glorious half hours!
The collaboration with local artist Joanne Proctor has been exciting and exhilarating too, and I hope we stay in touch. You can see, I have good reason to be happy and grateful. Now comes the time to think further ahead: How do I best build on this? How do I find ways of having in-depth, critical conversations about my work, on-line and off-line? How do I strengthen, consolidate, improve my practice, and meaningfully connect with other art-professionals? What possibilities are there, acknowledging the parameters of my extremely limited energy? Should I even aspire?
In yesterday’s interview on Front Row artist Eileen Cooper stated, in a different context, but pertaining to me all the same: “I think the hardest thing is that a lot of the art-world depends on being around, mixing socially with people…” In answer to John Wilson who wondered why “… you have to be there, at the parties, networking, to be part of that world; why isn’t it enough for the work to stand alone, to be judged on its own inherent merit?” she concluded: “Well, there’s a lot of good people out there, and that personal connection is the thing that makes it.”
Well, it’s the thing that I can’t make. How do I measure myself against, compare to, compete with artists who communicate directly, in person, with other art-professionals, share studios, go to private views, network? It’s not in doubt that I can make work, albeit at a supinely/snugly/slowly pace. I’ve instigated conversations on-line, through my blog, and lately through my #artling-project (for which I have plans) – it has blossomed into a garland of early morning Twitter-chats – lovely, sustaining, but maybe in the end rather too pleasurable, complimentary, as exchanges between friends can be. Wouldn’t want to miss them, but I do need to raise my game. I’m in need of learning; and, dare I say it, given my physical circumstances and the help I require even in my daily life, of actual, factual support.
A couple of years ago I applied for an Arts Council grant, with help from the Arthouse in Wakefield, in conjunction with my father/daughter/history-project. We asked for money ‘to pay an art-professional to support, evaluate and help enhance my practice, establish ways of more effectively linking me into the (art) world and researching how artists who, for reasons of ill-health or others, are excluded from regular direct participation in networking, face-to-face contact at exhibition openings, training, interviews, studio visits and other events, can build and sustain relationships with arts professionals and audiences)’, but although the initial assessor highly recommended funding, my application was rejected. Maybe it’s time to try again, in a more focused and less expensive&expansive way, just concentrating on myself.
I love these photographs (courtesy of Joanne Proctor) of people in Lisburn engaging directly with my 50 plus 1 #artling-photographs. Touching allowed!
Greetings from the in-between – illustrated version of my artist’s talk