Please detail any barriers you have faced, past or present, to achieving your creative aspirations. (max. 500 words)

Me, you, them, words, forms, formats, geography, FAE, BMC! Barriers schmarriers, part and parcel of work, of life. Necessity is the mother of invention. Creativity is a means (“Find a way or make a way”) to bypass barriers. In three years of undergraduate study and two years of postgraduate study no guidance was given about form filling and my degree isn’t trusted. The reality of being an artist, what it means to try and be an artist, day in, day out, didn’t get discussed, not a mention. Maybe it’s different now, maybe there’s a module but it’s the ‘same’ as any other work. You have to fill in a form. The difference being I would rather fill in a form for work I want to do, rather than for a job I don’t want to do (which I’ve done, of course).

It seems like ‘a no brainer’ but it still means trying to articulate something visual into words and one of my reasons for wanting to be an artist is that it is predominantly a visual language, rather than written. So, just as I didn’t do a degree in form filling, neither did I study networking. I want the work to do the talking, art is a visual language. I want to achieve the Beuysian dream! I was the ‘everyone’ in the Whitechapel gallery looking at a piece of art work thinking “I could do that!” Twenty years later, filling in forms to achieve my creative aspirations, I’m following a perceived pathway, trying to demonstrate the courage of my convictions, commitment to my artistic cause, building a body of work, sustaining a practice, practicing what I preach. I am doing that. FAE is an acronym for Fundamental Attribution Error which means we blame a person as opposed to the system. I could surprise you, “it could be me!” An asterixed footnote – at talks about opportunities there is always the suggestion that it’s always worth submitting applications because even if you’re not chosen this time, maybe next time. You’ll be logged for future reference, so the system perpetuates the possible but there’s more supply than demand. Writing applications is a skill but it’s rare to receive feedback so the opportunity to learn and develop the necessary skill doesn’t exist, even after a successful ACE GFA submission. In my ACE application I described the non-lay audience as critically engaged but anecdotally they seemed reluctant to engage, a barrier Beyond My Control. I can’t oblige an audience to give their thoughts so I adapt to the system and adopt a Beckett-like fortitude and “…Fail again. Fail better.” At the end of the day, its horses for courses and barriers are part of the process to like and lump. However there is a sincere satisfaction in filling in the forms with honesty, knowing the words I’ve used are the best written representation of what I want to do (within the word count!)

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