I work in sculpture, mosaic and mixed media. This blog is to record the journey of my practice and how I develop personally and intellectually. I will also be recording the process of working with a business support programme which I have recently started. This will offer support, a mentor, workshops and any relevant information into how to be a solvent, sustainable, successful artist.
We all sat in the Black Swann, revelling in our hard work in setting up the Art Trail, ideas were flowing, philosophical debates between the others were binging around the table. I sat and tried to absorb the intelligence that flowed around me, and not let the negative thoughts that so often determine my emotions creep in and whisper ‘you’re not really an artist’.
Then Jay turned to me and asked the immortal words ‘how’s the residency going?’
I paused, then launched into a diatribe of how I’d been feeling…
And while the words decided to network around the room and stop off at the bar for a bag of crisps, they slowly wormed their way back into my mouth, my tongue flapped around a bit more, lapping at my drink to wash away the salty crisps.
‘I hate my work because its too safe!’ The words jumped out of my mouth and danced mockingly on the table.
And then, with one swell foop of creative inspiration, Jay swept the contemptuous letters off the table with a vaudevillian hook.
‘Hacksaw, cut em up and see what happens, do something free, thats what I’d do…’
And with one simple sentance, the audience were blown away and the show transferred to the West End.
It strange being in the Orangery, a mixture of space for me to work and explore while feeling isolated and disconnected from the rest of the park…
I’ve realised my discomfort comes from a lack of security and a fear of the unknown. Seeing the public as a possible threat and having to take precautions (like locking the door) which serves the purpose of disconnecting me from the rest of the parks activities. I know intellectually that I need to keep myself safe, but emotionally, I want to trust the best in people and that I will not only be safe, but I may actually have some good conversations. Would it be different if I couldn’t see or hear people walking past (and in some cases smell!) What can be done to help this feeling go away?
The phrase ‘Duty of Care’ has been floating around and poking its moralistic nose into conversations lately, and I find myself wondering what that duty is? And who is responsible for it? Ourselves?
At school, I have a duty to care for pupils I am working with, so how does that extend out into the art world? Do Arts Organisations have a duty to care for it artists, whether in residence or freelancing for them? Does the Arts Council have a duty of care when funding artists? Do Local Authorities have this duty of care when they give permission for public spaces to be used? Are there any precautions in place to keep the artist safe? Who holds the moral responsibility when something goes wrong that no-one predicted?
This fear is driven by events external to the Orangery, but I am aware of the impact of my vulnerability hangover is having. I may need to go on a detox plan to cleanse my system of these feelings.
On a positive note, I got to play with plaster yesterday and my forms are now drying nicely, ready for when I go in next week and can start sanding.
I was looking forward to this residency and I’m not sure yet if I’m actually enjoying it…
I have to admit to feeling rather disillusioned lately. The problem comes from an incongruence between my intellectual and emotional response to the world as a whole.
I’ve started my first residency and have been feeling rather isolated. I have to lock the door for my own safety as I am working alone, but can view the world as it passes me by. They can also view me in a thoroughly de-personalised voyeuristic manner. I sometimes feel like I’m in a goldfish bowl. Coupled with the events of a month ago which has drastically altered my perspective on the world it may not be a good place for me to be emotionally. Something I need to work through and try to not despise or feel threatened by the general public, or I will end up buying into our culture of institutionalised fear.
On a positive note, I have made a start on 3 forms today, inspired by hearing how Barbara Hepworth worked, I have taken my 2D drawings and turned them around, abstracted them, and made them 3D, I will go back tomorrow and start working with the plaster to improve their raw state. I also want to explore how they relate to each other, and how they sit aesthetically in that relationship. I would also like to experiment with some of the sounds around the park. The lyrical meditative devotions of a local resident, sat, cross legged, atop a grassy hillock, was almost paganistic and has inspired me to experiment with recording. The recordings would then relate to each form, as a small environment of their own. A worship of Art through music.
I’ve been working for the last couple of weeks on a fellow artist and friends project. This has also raised some very interesting questions that I’m bursting with, however, don’t feel I can put them all out into the public sphere yet. I want to research the subject further and look into how I can actually get something published? (any advice on who to contact on a-n or ACE might be good) I’ve been forced into a situation where I am questioning perspetives and everything around me. I’m becoming more healthily cynical. Which I feel is a better place to be. My new mantra has become ‘Is it Fact or Opinion’.
I start my first residency next week at the Arboretum in Derby, a fantastic park in the centre of Derby’s most ethnically diverse community, (Curry from the ShaHenSha anyone!!) It was Britains first free park for the working classes, built by Joseph Strutt, in the 1800’s. The Strutt family were great philanthropists of their time, my children have all gone to a school set up by the Strutt family. Funny how connections are made…
I went and did some drawings last week, and enjoyed the opportunity to just observe the world of people at leisure, I’m really looking forward to starting properly and moving myself into the Orangery.
An exhausting weekend over May Bank Holiday, The Derbyshire Open Arts Trail http://www.derbyshireopenarts.co.uk/artist/326/christine+gray and I was based at the very picturesque Longshaw Estate. And despite the weather, we had a good steady flow of visitors and my face ached from smiling so much by the end of the weekend.
The new base is down for the studio to be built on, just waiting delivery of the log cabin and I can have a proper space to work in again. This is becoming urgent now as I have decided to enter a piece into the Belper Arts Trail and as the trail is strictly Fine Art, I have to make a piece that is not craft based. Which for me is a different mind set.
I’m thinking of making something with stones as a metaphor for the solidity of human beings, how we are both indestructable and endure, but as individuals we are vulnerable too. This idea came from a meditation that I was led through recently. It feels good to flex my brain muscle, its needed dusting down and the cobwebs blowing out of it ever since I stopped studying.