This is a record of my progress in 2008. I am looking forward to some exciting and challenging exhibitions and wanted to log the growth of my work and ideas throughout them. With lots to learn and many challenges ahead, I hope this will be an interesting record of events and emotions that will show my progression as an artist with an engaging and interesting body of work! So here we go…
My 'House' piece excelled itself last week and was awarded first prize in the Margaret Harvey Open. I was ecstatic to discover the news that I had won the solo show and felt like I was walking on air for a day or two (why does reward feel so good?)
Last Thursday I went to visit the gallery to see the exhibition and view what else had been selected. I thought it was a pretty good show of work with some very good photography pieces and quite a range of different work. Open exhibitions can often be a bit of a mish mash (I guess that’s the open nature of the submission criteria) but there was lots of interesting pieces.
While I was wandering around the woman behind the desk and the security guard started discussing the show and particularly what had won…. I cringed at the situation- me stood there anonymously not being able to help myself from listening in to their conversation. As I hung around in anticipation of what they would say next, my heart thumped as it quickly became clear that they didn’t agreed with the judge’s decision. I felt incredibly sensitive and hurt by their dismissive view of my work and felt the urge to speak up and defend it… of course I didn't, I instead smiled to them as I left, and joked about the whole absurdity of the situation to my boyfriend on the way out.
This kind of judgement is going to happen. If it hadn’t of won it wouldn’t have been discussed and it wouldn’t have been knocked. I guess everyone has their own ideas of what makes a worthy winner. It feels strange to see that my work leaves some people a little bit bemused and possibly resentful. I wonder why this is.
I'm going to allow myself some time away from the studio over Christmas. I'm looking forward to a little 'time out' time. Then I can hopefully get back into it all fresh and raring to go in the new year.
It feels like a very reflective time for me now. With this year's blog coming to an end and some exciting events already in place for next year I feel like 2008 can go down as a positive and productive year over all. It has strengthened my belief in myself and helped me make some important decisions about how I want to progress in the future. I can't wait to get my teeth stuck in to a new year!
I was very pleased to find out that my piece ‘House’ got accepted into the Margaret Harvey Open exhibition. Finally, after months of it sitting looking at me in the studio, feeling sorry for its self, rejected and unconsidered, it gets an outing. The rejection from the Jerwood Drawing Prize in June couldn’t fail to leave it a touch wounded but it at last has a little consolation with the chance to show itself in public, not totally discredited.
Friday, I had a trip to Nottingham. My boyfriend and I went to see the ‘Not on White Paper’ exhibition in its completion (it came down this Sunday), along with paying a visit to the Surface Gallery to have a look around and introduce myself in person. It is always interesting on these ‘days out’ days. For some reason they make me feel smaller than normal (mentally and physically). To take myself and the art that originates from the intimate space of the studio out into the world, seems like a daunting yet invigorating experience. It’s hard to explain, but it transforms the original two way dialogue that goes on between me and the work and suddenly gets others involved. …reading that back I realise that I am just stating the obvious here, but sometimes the obvious isn’t always the way it seems to me. It does make me feel a strange distance from its creation, and in the context of other peoples work, allowing me to see it in a slightly different way. I’m not sure how doing the performance in February will make me feel. Will I feel more detached from the experience? Will people react very differently to my previous performance, or are an audience as a collective no matter where they are from, pretty much always similar?
I feel so excited about the Surface Gallery exhibition, – now I’ve seen the space and am ready to get preparation underway. I have got that butterflies feeling in my tummy and I’m sure it’s not all because Christmas is getting near!
Last week was a little quieter. I decided last minute to enter my ‘House’ into the Margaret Harvey Open Exhibition in St Albans. This meant making sure it would get through their very particular criteria like max size, plinth presentation and any health and safety issues etc (they are notoriously rather strict). I was sure the plug on the light box would cause an issue, especially after the sharp sucking in of breathe I heard on the other end of the phone when I rang to enquire. I delivered it on Friday anyway and am now just waiting to hear whether it gets in. I have been in the Open Exhibition before and had some success but I have always played it safe previously and entered my photographs. They have not judged my 3d work before. Strangely feel a little tense about it. It is the same piece that didn’t get into the Jerwood Drawing Prize.
Also, last week I had a visit at the studio from a woman I met at the Open Dialogues event earlier this year. I am pleased that we have stayed in contact, it has been very interesting to chat about ideas and approaches and problems. She also has a blog on a-n… ’Recording on Progress’ Nicola Kearey.
I am aware now that ‘this year’s progress’ is nearly complete. I can’t believe how short a year really is for an artist. Although there have been some very good experiences and small steps forward, I still feel that my biggest achievement is just to have made it another year and still be doing it. Will I make another one? I hope so. I spent sometime yesterday working with the ‘Artist’s Development Toolkit’. I thought it a good attempt at giving myself some kind of appraisal for the year. It was helpful for me to recognise some positives as well as the problems. I think it is hard to see your own progress sometimes and with no one there to critique you, it can feel reliant on a blind faith that you’re on the right track.
It's been a good week. I managed to finish the piece for the Malt Cross Gallery in good time and was ready Thursday morning with the car loaded up and an exceptional friend of mine agreeing to come along and help me. So the two of us set off early in the morning and arrived in Nottingham about 11am after just a few minor hold ups…like getting slightly lost and getting confused by the one way system. I find I have a moment where I slightly hold my breathe just before arriving, especially when it’s a last minute thing as it was, bracing myself for what the people and the place is going to be like. As soon as we got there though there was instant relief. We were greeted by two bubbly, enthusiastic, young women who instantly made us feel so welcome and involved. The gallery was very pleasing too; you walk into this huge bar area which is ornately decorated with a very warm atmosphere and go up to a mezzanine balcony going round the top and through to a good sized, nicely lit white cube gallery space.
We were left to set up with a cup of tea and a mountain of cakes! Setting up the drawing went reasonably smoothly. I was working straight on to the gallery wall and this meant incorporating the feature of the skirting board. I was so pleased to be able to use the actual gallery features. In cases before there always seems to have been issues which have prevented me from marking the walls. The drawing worked so much better and I felt it is much more relevant to my initial intentions.
Unfortunately, I am unable to go up for the opening on Wednesday but I am planning a trip for the 12th December so I can see it complete. Many of the artists hadn’t set up when I was there.
Last week was such a refreshing experience compared to others of late. Jennie and Naomi just radiated enthusiasm and passion for the work and the ideas. You could really feel that this was so important to them and that they had worked really hard to bring together a good mix of diverse approaches to the central theme. I can’t wait to go back and see it all finished. It's wonderful to meet new artists dealing with similar concerns to my own.
The last week has been a busy one and illustrates just how much things alter week by week. One week I’m leading up to nothing and the next week I’m wondering how I will fit everything in! I am applying for things all the time and sometimes I hear back. Sometimes these are things that end up being on deeper delving, not quite what they first seemed and sometimes they end up being something much more exciting than I thought they would be. I am learning to stem excitement, expectation of one thing and therefore hopefully reduce disappointment at a later date, but I always remain hopeful of every new endeavour.
Anyway, nothing major has come along but I did hear back from a group putting together an exhibition in Nottingham to open on the 3rd December, so it’s all been rush, rush to try and organise the piece and my time getting there all quite last minute. I am putting in a site-specific drawing that will go directly onto the wall of the gallery. It is a reasonably small drawing (my row of chairs) but a surprising amount of detail to draw. I have drawn it on the wall at the studio and am now getting it ready to transfer using a traced template. The exhibition is called ‘Not on White Paper’. I don’t know what other work has been selected for the exhibition but I’m very excited to see the results! It’s at the Malt Cross Gallery. 3rd December-14th December, if anyone fancies it.
I also had further contact with the Surface Gallery, also in Nottingham. It looks like finally there are some concrete plans being made. I have agreed to do my drawing performance for the opening (date still to be confirmed). I am very excited about doing this, after feeling so positive about it at the Open Studios, I am thrilled to be trying it in a gallery and further afield, for a new audience. I am a little scared about the prospect of performing to strangers, but incredibly excited too.
I also got a call from a guy at North Herts College asking me if I would like to come and talk to the art students about my work, with the possibility of doing a workshop in the future. I gulped and then agreed to come and have a look around in December after the exhibition in Nottingham has been set up. This out of everything above is the one that scares me the most! It is the one that really feels alien to me, but I do want to be able to do it. Lets just see what happens.