Two months ago we got together in sunny Manchester, in a hot room at Old Granada Studios. The fans were blowing the heat away but there was no remedy for the internal heat each one of had to deal with in anticipation of the 5-minute presentations about our work we had to give.
The format of our presentations wasn’t determined nor was the number of slides – very soon we realised that 5 minutes meant 5 minutes! Timekeeping was strict and many of us were interrupted without saying all we wanted to say. A lesson learnt the hard way.
Only once before did I have to give a 5-minute presentation about my work. This was half-way through my BA (Hons) course and, it wasn’t that I didn’t have much to say about my art then, but it just felt different, certainly more nerve-wracking. This time around, without doubt, our nerves were tested but, because it felt like ‘we were all in it together’, the presentation was more like a starting point for a two-week long conversation between people with much in common.
In the course of presentations, while listening to other StudioBook2017 artists’ presentations, I acted on the spot: I knew that what I had prepared was too long and I had to devise a way to make it more concise. The performative bit – I planned to do at the end – had to be forgotten and not performed. I settled for a bit of reading at the beginning of my presentation.
Happy to say – it went well.
Looking back, even on the same day, I would have done it completely different. Conclusion: I learned something within the first few hours of being a StudioBook2017 artist.
On the same day, Kate Jesson, the Manchester Art Gallery curator, told us that we shouldn’t really use the word ‘practice’ when talking about our work. Good point. No need to say that describing our work as practice is slightly alluding to an action that enables someone to gain certain skills and suggests not necessarily being confident at what he or she does.
Art, or being an artist, is what I do – this is my work, my ‘job’ and my whole life is about that (a bit of pompous statement).
When we ask a doctor what she or he does they would, without any hesitation, say “I am a doctor.” We may ask: “What kind of doctor?”
We want people to ask us: “What kind of artist are you?” and then we could tell a story. The story may be about our art but it also might be a different story. It could be a story that is remembered, one that makes you be remembered – as an artist.
Thank you Kate, for telling us this story – I will remember it well.