I like to think I’m a nice person.
I like to think I’m generous with my time and my work.
I like to think I am not pompous, or “up myself” or mean.
Sometimes I have to say no.
I’m not going to be specific here, I don’t want to embarrass anyone. I’m not here to score points. The specifics aren’t the issue. There have been two or three instances lately, where, for a variety of reasons I have decided to say no.
But because I like to think I am a nice person, I still feel the need to explain and justify my decisions.
When I started out on this new adventure, about eight or ten years ago, I would hang my work anywhere, just to get it seen, just to gauge some sort of reaction, build on that, move on. That’s the way I had to do it. I put everything on my CV because previous to that, there was nothing on my CV, not my artist CV anyway. As I went on, and got more on there, I selectively discarded the pop-up pub type exhibitions, in favour of the art festivals… sifting out the open opens, in favour of selective shows. Over the last five years, I have become increasingly more selective about where my work is shown. Because of this, my CV looks better. When I send it to people, it looks pretty good now. The idea is to build on what has gone before, so that there is an upward spiral of better venues, more highly regarded events.
I feel I am in a precarious spot at the moment, from which I can launch myself up another notch. Whether we like it or not, Arts Council funding confers status. While this is in place I have to capitalise on it… it might not happen again. The venues I am searching out, the places I and my work are seen while I work on “Nine Women” is important to me, and I also feel I owe it to the Arts Council, and all of the people whose taxes have paid for it, to grow this profile. I also feel that I can use that profile to raise awareness of the work done in my arts deprived community by ArtSpace Dudley, the charity that I rent my studio from. In this place, if I can help anyone who is trying to do the same, I will!
I do not apologise for my ambition.
I have spent the previous thirty (ish) years of my adult life bumbling about aimlessly, drifting from job to job, accidentally, and opportunistically. I had no idea where I was going. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Suddenly I do.
Suddenly I am hungry for something.
Suddenly I know what I want to do.
Suddenly, I have something to say, and a voice to say it with.
This has come as a great shock. It gives me a high I can’t explain. I am attention seeking. I am opinionated.
I am a woman in a hurry.
Because I am a woman in a hurry, I am not able to say yes to everything. I can only say yes to the things that get me where I want to be. I am already four years too old for the Turner Prize. Everything I say yes to matters. Everything I say no to matters too.
So if I have said no to you, I’m really sorry if I have upset you, but I’m not sorry I’ve said no.
As I read this back, I am wavering about whether or not to post it. Because it does sound mean, and pompous. But I think I will post it, because I think some of you will recognise the dilemmas, the internal wrangling that goes alongside trying to get somewhere.