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After my last post about getting on with my application, and stop fannying about, I’ve been looking around for examples of manifestos. At this point I’m not really bothered what sort, just gathering, you know?

…also gathering ideas on how to write one. “Short and snappy” being my only bit of self-guidance so far.

I found this, ironically, here: https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-and-why-to-write-your-own-personal-manifesto/

“…a statement of principles and a bold or rebellious call to action by causing people to evaluate the gap between principles and their current reality. The manifesto challenges assumptions, fosters commitment and provokes change.”

So there it is. That’s what I want to write!

It will be for myself, in a bid to embody The Tenth Woman, but I will publish it, in some format yet to be decided (Tea towel? T-shirt? Poster? Scroll? Nice little handbag sized booklet?)

I have been talking to prospective collaborators and partners in this adventure, about what it means. For me, this is a crucial part of any piece of work undertaken. I know that some artists like to play things close to their chests, but for me, it is only in the conversations and discussions that I discover exactly what it is I mean! Each person I talk to edges me closer to the little nugget of loveliness the idea will become. This can be an almost imperceptible drip drip drip, or it can be a smack round the earhole with a wet kipper that shoots the pervading idiocy right out of the opposite ear.

Such idiocy is illustrated by my own conflicting thoughts. How amazing the brain is to hold such things in the same space? I have written before I am sure about the artist’s capacity for cognitive dissonance…

I draw your attention to the bit about “the gap between principles and their current reality”: I have these principles, that are becoming firmer all the time, and I am almost by the day, more able to articulate them, and yet it seems my current reality is nowhere even close! Ha ha! I am that duplicitous being that says one thing and does another. I am the two-faced, I am not practicing what I preach, and I am not walking the walk!

And this my patient reader is precisely why I need a manifesto!

I sat brazenly talking to Dan yesterday afternoon about the principles involved. All very smug and admirable, when with a raised, surprised eyebrow he asks “Why are you saying you only want to do three songs at the performance? Why only one gig?”

Why indeed.

Because I’m scared.

Because I’m still fannying about.

Because I let myself off the hook far too easily.

Because I always want to leave the back door open so I can run away at the first sign of trouble, in my sensible shoes.

THIS VERY THING is the thrust of The Tenth Woman.

There I am, exposed for what I am.

There is much work to be done.


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I’ve said before that I am essentially lazy, and risk averse too.

There is something satisfying in being paid to help other people access the Arts Council funding application website, which I can do to the best of my ability, and get paid even if they are unsuccessful. Actually, so far, every artist I have helped has been successful, which is great, but the axe must fall sometime, right?

So the time has come round again for me to face the fear and introduce some jeopardy. I will apply for funding for my own project, with no one to blame but myself. I started this a few months ago, registered it, changed the title, worked on it, then it was temporarily abandoned while I worked on a client’s. I am due to start work on another with someone else, in the first week in July, so I have a small window of opportunity to polish my own up and give it my best shot. (I can’t do two of these applications at a time… oh! the confusion! the headaches!) I have to face the fear, because actually, that is what it’s all about. The Tenth Woman. The Tenth Woman recognises the fear, and does it anyway. The Tenth Woman doesn’t hide, she stands up straight and goes for it, red lipstick on, whilst quaking in her boots.

So as I embark upon the manifesto of The Tenth Woman, I am completely aware that there cannot be any excuses. None of this “it’s too hard”… none of the “they’ll never give it to me so it’s not worth the effort” because no, they will NEVER give it to me if I don’t put the work in. My plan is to put lots of work in: to get people to read it, get people to check, get someone vaguely numerate to check my budget, phone up ACE and talk about it to whichever poor soul answers the phone, send querying emails, talk about it to everyone who will listen in order to get it straight in my head before writing it down. Then EDIT EDIT EDIT… it’s the key, really it is.

So… there it is… head down, elbows sharpened, I’m going up The Portal for a while. I could be some time………….


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The thoughts remain in a little side shoot of my brain. Not at the forefront, stopping me from remembering to buy the eggs, but neither at the back. A sort of bubbling under. Since the crit session I suppose. That thought that tells me what I’m drawing, and how it is tied to my mood, and my sense of self, and also… actually more than I thought… physically. What I’m drawing and how I’m drawing is deeply connected to how my body feels. This hasn’t come as a big shock as I knew it was in the mix somewhere, but yesterday I was ill. Really ill. The dodgy prawn sandwich sort of ill. And today although no longer “sick”, I am weak, wobbly, my muscles ache, my head aches, and I’m exhausted by walking from one end of our mansion (3-bed semi) to the other… especially if I have to bend down.

I have managed to do some drawings just in my sketch book while at home and curled up. They’re not great drawings, but they do have a tortured entanglement that is interesting. My pain has led me to break one of my own rules. This is when the mutation happens, and I might set some new rules.

There has been a general “no overlapping” rule to the compositions, led in part by the influence of botanical and scientific drawing, things pinned down and laid out in a single layer for clarity. Not two-dimensional as such, but definitely not entangled. A dissected rat or plant specimen…

So these new drawings in the sketch book don’t obey that rule. This is the first mutation for a few weeks, so I will explore and see if I like it!


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Yesterday I became extremely excited by the skip outside a neighbour’s house. They were having a new kitchen fitted and I watched as the day went by, large, clean wonderful pieces of flattish cardboard boxes being cast into it.

My mind raced to my former life and the things that I could make with groups of children out of this immensely valuable material resource! Thwarted by the fact I no longer have an outlet for this I put out a call to anyone else who might be interested so that I could rescue it. I talked to the neighbour who then promised to intercept the card between fitter and skip, and store in his garage to keep it clean and dry until I could get it into my car to get it to the studio.

“I’ll take ALL of it please”

“All of it?”

“Yes.”

“But there’s tons of it!”

“Yes I know, that’s the point!”

“ALL of it??”

“Yes please.”

“What will you do with it?”

“I don’t know yet, I can’t use it but I know loads of people that would love it!”

“ALL OF IT???”

“Yes!”

“But you don’t know who will have it?”

“I know that someone will, and will be as thrilled as I would have been!”

“But it’s just brown cardboard?”

“Yes, but there’s LOADS of it… which means the potential is enormous!”

“OK…”

Then this morning, as I had loaded my car, and they were reversing off the drive, they wound down the window and said:

“There will be some more card today, do you really want that too?”

“Ooh yes please!”

“ALL OF IT?”

“Definitely, yes, all of it.”

“We can’t imagine what anyone would do with it all!!”

“Just pile it up, I’ll take it away, and when someone makes something with ALL OF IT, I’ll get them to take photos and I’ll show you!”

So, Bo Jones, When I cram this lot into your car boot, you’d better make sure you take some photos of what gets done with it!

 


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I now have a door to my studio space.

So I am now able to consider the door and not-door as two distinct states of working. Already. It only went up this morning!

When there was no door, because not many of the other artists were there as often as I was, It seemed ok. I wasn’t interrupted, I wasn’t disturbed. I could play my music without fear of disturbing anyone else.

But now, I have one. Already the increased traffic of passers-by now have something to knock. They don’t feel obliged to call a greeting across the open threshold… or politely tip-toe past. Already I have given vent to my full vocabulary (dropped roll of paper on my foot) without someone calling “are you ok?”

These are all nice things, I know… but the real threshold behaves differently to the implied threshold. Before I had carpet, then tiles. The edge of one marking the end of one space and the beginning of another. Now I have a door. There’s no glass. It is completely solid and heavy and lockable. I have now taken my looper out of the box. Those who have followed this blog know already that the position of the looper and its operational state are a true indicator of my state of mind.

I have a door that locks, can’t be seen through, is actually quite soundproof, and the looper is out. It isn’t yet plugged in (tomorrow!) but it is out. The mic is in the stand, and the interface is lodged next to where the laptop sits.

My next wave of work will be to explore more closely the integration of the audio with the visual. This door is the thing I’ve been waiting for to allow that to begin. I’ve been working, but I’ve not been REALLY going for it in an uninhibited, un-self-conscious manner…

Another thing that poked at this a little today was a brief conversation with the builder’s mate about my work. He was curious… About the drawings, the fabric, the chairs and most of all, the looper and the microphone… so we spoke of all these things: Stranger Things, Alien, The Goonies, ET, bacteria, illness, David Lynch, bed bugs and fleas and sprouting potatoes. (It was too short an acquaintance to overtly refer to the penises and vaginas.) The builder looked somewhat bewildered, but this young man was OPEN. I realised that this was one of the things I miss about teaching… that thing when you come across someone who is completely open to the ideas that run together and shoot off in different directions. It was a brief conversation, akin to one I had in a lift with a ten year old in New Art Gallery Walsall, in which between the ground floor and the fourth floor we talked of Converse Allstars, The Poundshop, biros and Laura Oldfield-Ford.

Inspirational.

So tomorrow, I shut my new door, and connect up the looper.


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