Last week was the first week of Hertfordshire Open Studios. So we've all been around regularly. It's meant a lot of chatting with cups of tea, debating and discussing. Reflecting on the launch, we have all felt really positive about it. Proud even, I can see it coming through.
Next week we have planned to meet up to start getting ideas and a plan together about the presentation to the Chamber of commerce, but I was so frustrated to discover that I am going to have to miss the meeting because I have to work that night. Work always feels like something that just gets in the way all the time. I rush my 'earning' days through and then my week can begin. Having to do extra always riles me!
Anyway, not to dwell. I will have to catch up on what was discussed afterward. I am now starting to get planning together for a few things that are coming along. I had a random opportunity come up a couple of weeks ago. I have been invited to show some of my work up near Leeds at Harewood house next April as part of a 'House and Home' exhibition they are planning to coincide with an anniversary of the building. It sounds really exciting and I'm going up to Harewood mid October to chat to the curator and discuss ideas as well as get more familiar with the place. The ideas behind the exhibition sound so relevant, I'm so thrilled to be given this kind of opportunity, especially to be asked to be involved and not having applied. It's such a wonderful feeling, to be invited.
I'm also going back to the Centre 4 Recent Drawing in October to get my plans moving for that, so lots to do at the moment. Exciting times!
Tomorrow evening I'm talking at the Open Dialogues in Cambridge, another thing I was absolutely delighted to be invited to do, but must admit…feeling a little scared as it's getting closer. Talking in front of lots of people is a very new thing for me and I'm not sure if, even a year ago I would of dreamt of being able to say I'd do it. But wrapped inside all the fear, is a lot of excitement too.
The lead up to the launch on Friday was busy. I finished my piece ready for my performance by the Tuesday but the rest of the week was filled with organising the hanging of the other work. We had three performances, five 3d pieces and a very limited amount of space. Wednesday I spent most of the day wondering around trying to work out where everything was going to go, changing my mind and then changing it back again. Luckily on Thursday there was two of us doing it and we could spend a good amount of time discussing the pros and cons of different lay outs. It was much easier doing it with two of us. We got most of it hung on the Thursday and just had finishing touches to do on the Friday but like always, the stuff you think will be quick, ends up taking ages. Friday was subsequently pretty hectic.
At 7.30pm on Friday, I got in my white suit and climbed in to my little white house, and began to draw (at first a little shaky handed). I was drawing on to the walls of the tightly stretched semi-transparent fabric. This meant that as I drew, the line showed through to the viewer, on the outside. They could see me as well but it was a bit like looking through a heavy fog. I traced the room, doorways and viewers as they walked around me. I hadn’t planned the drawing at all, so I just responded to what I could see from the particular angle I looked from at that time, therefore the representation was very fluid and changeable. I work round and round and across the top panels. It was great when someone would work out what I was doing and stop to allow me to trace their outline. They therefore had complete control over how long I could draw them for. Quite often I would get half way round and they’d walk off, so I was left with half figures, bodiless legs, and many empty shoes. The thing I really enjoyed was this interaction, each viewer changing the drawing and choosing how to act, being delighted about being recorded. People appeared, from my angle to be dancing around the house, I would catch parts of the same person several times around the house. I couldn’t quite work out always who was who, so even people I knew, past me by as just another viewer. They kind of became this whole other, separate from me…my audience.
The whole evening was fantastic, there was a great buzz and I really got the feeling the audience where really engaging with us. Most pieces seemed to be creating a reaction. We all felt proud of all our efforts and went home with and excited glow!
Last week was excellent. We managed to do most of the clearing and cleaning and saw the improvements instantly. We have been at this site for three years and have really neglected it. It has been treated as just a building, ignored and neglected. A space we just used and paid little attention to, like a dead space. The more dirty and unkempt it got the more respect we lost for it and therefore it seems to have spiralled. It was filthy. But not anymore. We scrubbed on our hands and knees, cleaned out the cupboards, dusted! polished! I can hardly believe it. There was such a sense of achievement at the end of the week and we felt much more of a group. It is funny how simple things like that can have a massive affect on morale. It was like a big step in taking control.
Apart from this we had a chat with the chairman of the trustees on Friday. We arranged for him to come down and discuss giving a presentation to local businesses both big and small, to demonstrate to them what we do and explain our ideas and how it could hold benefits for them. This was a really positive meeting not only in terms of the presentation but also for the dialogue we had with a Trustee. This was very encouraging and allowed us to exchange things that are going on and thoughts that we have. I think he was delighted to hear what we had to say and we were also, to hear his ideas. We really did appreciate the effort and openness to which he chatted with us. He showed real support for us and the growth of the trust. I believe it left us with a real sense of hope of things to come. Perfect timing with the Launch on Friday.