Deep breath, and then GO…

Arts Council England said yes.
Thank you.

I’ve been at this for over a year. If you count the first abortive attempt, nearly two years.

This was the seventh attempt. Six unsuccessful applications.

So the lesson is, keep going. If you need it, if you think the project is worth it, keep at it. Like a dog with a bone. Don’t let it go. And actually, you do get a bit hardened to rejection. It’s character building! (Not that I need any extra character, frankly, but you know what I mean?)

I do have to thank ACE also for the feedback, support and unrelenting cheerfulness with which they answer queries, and in some cases, they seemed genuinely gutted that I didn’t get it, and were very encouraging all the way through. They are, in spite of difficulties, technical issues, covid-19 nightmares, a true national treasure. Keir Gill has been an absolute star, so he gets a special mention.

The first six unsuccessful applications were essentially Research and Development. Every bit of rejection feedback centred on audience and engagement… and I was having a tough time trying to meet the requirements for that. It was speculative, and from my end, I had a hard time with that… predicting what the outcome might be, and consequently how people would engage with this mythical outcome is hard. I know they say they welcome R&D applications, but if you are going to give that a go, try to figure out that bit and pin it down.

The difference this time was that over lockdown, with a chunk from the ACE emergency fund, and a chunk from the government SEISS, I was able to do much of that research. The seventh application therefore, was able to concentrate on the actual project itself. And therein, I think, lay the success. Now I knew what I was going to do/make I could reliably state what sort of audience and how they would engage, even in the current circumstances. The application was much clearer for the writer as well as the reader I’m sure.

So what am I going to do?

I have two blogs on a-n, one that is the same as the one posted on my website, and the other just on a-n concentrating on my musical output. (I’m posting this on all of them, but may start a separate project blog…?) The music over the last few years has become a stronger entity, and in my head, if not in the exhibition space, runs alongside, through, is entangled and enmeshed, fully integrated… but only in theory really. Because music production is expensive, and requires technical skills and music knowledge I don’t have much of. But the thing is, I can hear what I want.
The money then, will pay for the time and space (and people) for writing, recording, experimentation and eventually production of the sounds and music at the same pace and time as my drawing, and will be cross-pollinating. I have very basic recordings, a library of sounds waiting to be manipulated, drawn out and drawn on… the drawings are pulling out from the page into three dimensional drawings, and now I can pull them further out into sound. This will culminate in an exhibition/installation/event/performance in 2021 which will definitely have an audience to engage!

It’s going to be a fun year!


So this is where it has led me…

The drawn song has rhythm, repetition, a top line that meanders… then returns to the place it started.

It has a focus you are drawn to. The wire draws out the lines from the surface. The lines, the wire and the shadows are a three-part harmony.

Mix up the metaphors.

Scratch out the similes.

Acknowledge the allegory.

Accept the drawing is a song and the song is a drawing.

Now take me to the bridge.



(well… four actually, but who’s counting?)

I’m currently reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I liked the bit about ideas having their own life, and looking for a person to collaborate with in order to be realised. If that person doesn’t notice, or doesn’t pay it enough attention, it moves on until it finds someone who can. Interesting. I have definitely had ideas that run out of steam during the time it takes to find the time, particularly when I had a “proper job”. I’d make notes in my sketch book, draw diagrams etc, fully intending to come back to them when I had the time. Only then to discover I just didn’t have the connection with it when I did. It had moved on to someone else perhaps? What this does is shift blame. Which has to be a good thing. I don’t need any more guilt about not doing stuff. Thinking that the idea has found another home with someone who can do it justice is better.

Years ago… possibly about ten years ago, when I was making quilts and covering sheds and so on, I made a decision never to buy new fabric. And I have stuck by that promise unless I need something special like vilene, or a large piece of something like calico without seams for a particular commission. During this time, I’d cut up men’s shirts from charity shops (and my husband) to make things, and get left with the bits like collars and cuffs that I didn’t want to throw out, but found difficult to use. I made a few things with button strips, and some mini bunting out of the collars, but that’s it. Because I’m a bit of a hoarder, other quilters started giving me their leftovers too.

Move on through the years… I am no longer sewing much. And the sewing I’m doing is small occupational-therapy-fireside-tv-watching stuff. I’m clearing out the loft, a box at a time, and came across the stash of shirt bits. Reluctant to throw them out, I began to think about other artists I know who could give them a better home.

My friend and fellow a-n blogger Stuart Mayes who lives in Sweden is currently doing work with shirts and ties, and I wondered whether a large quantity of collars and cuffs might be something he could play with. Sometimes, having a huge quantity of something, instantly, presents possibilities that might not otherwise have occurred when you only have half a dozen…

So I have squeezed down and wrapped up four packages – each around 2kg – consisting of 150(ish) shirt collars and 300(ish) (mostly) corresponding cuffs to post over to Stuart, in the hope that he will throw them in the air, and roll about on them in glee, then come up with an idea that has been floating about in the air, waiting for somewhere to land!

(photos please Stuart! Hahahahahahaaaa!)


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