I mentioned in the last post that I was about half way through the project and that I had done some stuff. Today for some reason I feel the need to quantify:

I have some drawings, about four quite large scale, several smaller ones, and a some very small ones that have been edited out of larger ones. In these drawings I do start to see the seeds of change germinating.

We have about half a dozen songs that are nearly there, and available to listen to (see below).

In terms of audience, contrary to expectations I do feel there has been some growth here too: 

Drawn In is an online exhibition hosted by Glitterball Showroom from Enköping, Sweden, curated by the marvellous Stuart Mayes who has been enormously supportive of my work for years now, and he asked me to open this run of online exhibitions. It seems to be going well, has attracted some wonderful feedback and a great review from Sarah Goudie on a-n reviews. As part of this exhibition, four of the songs are being previewed, as works in progress. If you feel inclined to pop over to Soundcloud, feel free to like/add a comment. The playlist has had loads of listens, but people do seem reluctant to comment… I do understand though… I’m a bit like that… but it is nice to get real words from real people.

I’ve joined The Creative Community too which is a bit like Linked In for creative professionals, except it works, which I find Linked In doesn’t very well… certainly didn’t for me. It’s new, and growing steadily, the networking feels natural, and friendly (again, unlike Linked In).

And last week I was invited to attend an online Discussion Festival run through Platform 7 events. This is really great. I’m sure there’s lots of backroom Oomph going on, because it’s brilliant, and not like zoom at all… if you are Zoom Fatigued, and would like to do something that feels more like chatting in the pub, this is the thing. This week I got to host a “table” and I’m doing it next Tuesday too. You can register for free, and then if you feel you have had a great night, make a donation afterwards, or you can pay a little in advance… whatever you feel, or feel able to do. (Free is ok too) I’t hard to explain, but there are lots of “tables” and you can freely hop between them, listen to what’s going on, or join in if you want. My discussion, prompted by the Drawing Songs project, focussed on the merging of art media, and asked can a song be a drawing and can a drawing be a song? It was a really interesting night, so I’m looking forward to doing it again. I’m adding loads of links in this post, so you can go off and discover for yourself.

Things have gone well so far, but I am straining at the leash, as I’m sure many people are, to get back to real people in real rooms… once we can do that, I will feel I’ve got some definite rock solid progress going on.

But there are dates in the diary for real human contact… meetings over coffee, studio visits, rehearsals… it feels like a blossoming… let’s hope there isn’t a late frost that kills it off…

I’ve spent an hour or so looking at my budget (on track) and my time plan… which has swayed a little in the covid breeze: some things have had to be cancelled, and will now not happen, but the things that I have done in their place I think have been better, more effective and have accidentally reached a wider audience that my planned activities would have done. So I’m happy with that.

Onwards …

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Each time I get some funding from Arts Council England (or elsewhere) I find something odd happens to my attitude towards the work, and myself as an artist, that each time is unexpected, but I have noticed a pattern now…

I do feel an obligation, as I have said in previous posts, to deliver, as it is public money. A responsibility to make sure I spend the money well.

But it is more than that. Making sure I spend the money well isn’t the only thing. I feel the need to spend the time well. I feel the need to “get somewhere” to prove to myself that it was worth all the effort!

If I potter on by myself, in unfunded periods, that is what I do, I potter about. (There is huge value in periods of pottering too, but that’s for another post.) But having a budget, a time plan, and a list of people to work with and so on, gives a purpose and direction to a project. For the worlds biggest procrastinator, this is actually hugely valuable. Running in my head is a sort of script that goes “By the end of this project I want to be/ to have done/ to have worked with/ to have seen/ to have made/ to have met/ to have been to…blah blah…

This ensures that by the end, I DO feel I have accomplished something that wouldn’t have been done otherwise. I’m not just talking about doing the project, yes of course I want to have successfully achieved what I have said I will do, but there are extra things. I want to have worked in different ways, with different people, expanded the audience, shown work in different galleries and non-galleries maybe. I have in the past increased my online stats… that seems to be happening this time too. A gently, but undeniable growth of people that are interested in the work I’m doing.

Having funding undeniably gives you access to things and people you wouldn’t otherwise have. Not just the money in itself, but the fact that ACE have deemed you worthy of it seems to be like a rubber stamp to get you through to the VIP tent… well… maybe to the place where you can see the door to the VIP tent…

The growth isn’t just about the places I can get to and the people I can meet and the “stuff” I can buy. It is that almost imperceptible shift in my sense of self. My path to being an artist and feeling like an artist over the last ten to fifteen years has been a bumpy road, and I often fall down potholes. But I am undeniably an artist. I don’t do anything else now. 

Fifteen years ago I was calling myself all sorts of things to skirt round the fact I didn’t feel worthy of the word. Artist seemed such a HUGE word. I felt almost embarrassed using it. What the fuck was that all about eh? But I can remember the feelings… I can feel that growth in my bones.

So… I’m about half way through this project. I’ve done a lot of drawings, they’ve changed a bit. I’ve written and recorded a few songs – remotely – haven’t got myself in the studio with my co-producer and co-writer yet… but the dates are in the diary. I have learned a lot from the process.I have met new people and I have shown in new spaces, real and virtual. I’ve worked with new people… I’m getting there. It feels like a gentle upward spiral. I can now look back and see the point I started at, and I can see progress. All is good.

In June I will have been blogging for ten years. I started on a-n.co.uk/blogs and more recently this has featured on my website too. When I look back down the spiral that far, I hardly recognise myself…


Blogging is a weird beast…

Either you have plenty of time to blog, but nothing to blog about, or so much going on you haven’t got time to blog!

This afternoon I find myself with a small window of opportunity: I’ve done some things, waiting for other things to come back to me…

I’ve recorded some more things, some vocal re-recordings to be honest. I was not happy with the first lot. I find recording myself difficult. There’s so much to think about that it seems the last thing I concentrate on is my voice. Whereas when I am in Michael’s studio, he does all that, and I stand up to the mic and concentrate on the singing. Much better! We will be back to that arrangement soon hopefully.

Also, I commissioned the wonderful Simon Smith to play some double bass for me… deep, bowed, melodic and melancholic… to insert into the mid section of one of the songs. It’s as if there’s a breath and a heartbeat and a soulful longing in there. I can’t wait for it to be knitted into the mix…

There’s also that waiting that everyone is doing at the moment, waiting for things to open. For another step closer to normal life, or at least a life where we can be in the same space as other people, and talk properly… sing and play together again.

The online exhibition Drawn In with Glitterball Showroom in Enköping, Sweden seems to be going well… evidenced by loads of website clicks, and Soundcloud plays. Small, but gratifying clues to interaction.



Three Pages

The words/ideas have to go somewhere. They come as thoughts that are sometimes visual, sometimes I hum, sometimes I write, draw… whatever… they just come.

But they’re not always in a specific form… they are often amorphous. So I don’t always know if the thought is a drawing or a song or a poem or a blog post. Sometimes they are thoughts that haven’t decided. It’s great if I wake up knowing it will be a drawing sort of day, or a lyrics day.

… the words… I have many ideas about language and thought. Which comes first? Do I give words to the ideas because I have language? Or does the language mix itself up in my head and entwine to create the ideas? I do know that some words hang about in the front of my mind waiting for others to turn up, to make something interesting…

What I have decided to do, following the example of a good friend, is to write three pages every day without purpose. Just write. Not for a blog, a song, or poem… and then the words that swim about are parked and have a home until they have the space to become something else. Or not. Mostly not. But the muscles are worked, the synapses fired. The words are there. I have no idea what effect this will have: whether it will clear my brain, order my thoughts; inspire more writing in other more public-facing areas… no idea.

Yesterday’s three pages turned out to be about friendship.

Some days, I have a head full of friends. There ought to be more words for love. Different sorts of love. For those friendships that build you up and hold you tight when you feel lost.  Three pages of that I think eventually will give birth to a song, and might affect which ink and pen I choose… 

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