I do know that I have written before about the secrecy surrounding “getting work in a proper gallery”. I do think that things are getting better… processes are more transparent than they once were, in some places. But I find the whole process actually quite stressful, and ultimately disappointingly negative. I ought to say this is not coming off the back of bitterness through receiving yet another rejection. I do feel though that it’s as if someone has a secret knock, or password that they’re not telling me… that I couldn’t possibly afford, or that I’m just not good enough to be given. I am stumbling my way around, bullheaded, determined, although actually quite naïvely. I don’t know anything, so I ask stupid questions, then feel inadequate and pathetic.
I should know that some galleries are booked three years in advance and that the work I’m doing now will be completed and over and done with by the time they get round to me, even if they say yes. To expect current work to be in the gallery is silly. If I want to apply for a residency to work within a particular setting, on a particular topic, I should know they might be booking a couple of years ahead too, so in writing a proposal for that, I should be sufficiently vague to enable the work I’m doing then to fit. Well that isn’t going to work is it?
Am I missing a trick somehow? I am just being ridiculous aren’t I? I will have to apply for work such as nine women to go into a gallery three years from now, when possibly I’m no longer interested in it. I will have to write a proposal for a residency that really I’d like to do within the next twelve months, to a gallery that even if they say yes, it won’t be for another two years, by which time my work will undoubtedly have moved on, and the submission I wrote now irrelevant.
Even if I decide to go for a hire space, time is still an issue if it is a good gallery that has some sort of selective procedure.
Ideally, I want the work I’m doing now to be the work I do in a residency now. Ideally I want the work I’ve just finished to be the work that gets put up in the gallery now.
Never going to happen.
What I’m going to do is this:
- I shall apply to a few hire space galleries of good standing to show work I’m proud of, that hopefully will still stand up to the rigours of exhibition in three years time…
- I shall write a proposal for a residency, in the hope that I will still want to do the work in a couple of years’ time. But I think the crucial thing here is to establish and maintain relationships with the people concerned so that whatever turns the work takes in the meantime, can still be accommodated, if they say yes!
If I look back over the last few years, I think my work, although changing, still has my own personality and preferences and favourite themes at the heart of it. My brain still ploughs over the same field perhaps… albeit in a different direction, maybe wearing a different hat….
So I think I need to get over myself. I need to stop thinking the galleries will halt their programmes just so I can do what the hell I want. I need to find a way of writing to fit.
As I reach the end of this piece, I am wondering whether to post. Whether it is cutting my nose off to spite my face. But you know what? Blundering around, asking stupid questions and being a bit dense has stood me in good stead so far. Also, if I don’t post, I’m just perpetuating the problems.
I know I have been very fortunate recently, getting Arts Council England to fund my project. What I have found is that because of this, people seem to assume I know what I’m doing. I have no idea!
So there you go, it’s out there. I’ve come out. I don’t know what I’m doing for the most part, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
(I show this image as a way of reminding myself that work done three years ago is still good, relevant, and I would be pleased to show it anywhere, even now! So get a grip Elena!)