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I inhabit a space exactly half way between cool entitlement and imposter syndrome, called excitement and pride.

I’ve just been elected a full member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. I’ve been an Associate Member for the minimum required three years, and in the last year I’ve worked hard to produce six pieces of work to represent my practice and fill up the longest wall in the gallery! (Six pieces are required, the large bit is my fault). Then my fellow candidates and I have to wait for the membership to vote. The successful candidate needs 50% +1. I am very pleased to say I got that… maybe a few more. I managed to do the work, and not piss off too many people in the intervening three years that they were kind enough to vote for me… more importantly, they voted for the work. The feedback I’ve received about the work has been fantastic. I think I’m onto something… haha!!

Any artist run society has all the usual issues when you get to know them from the inside. Differences of opinion, a bit of squabbling, sarcasm, gossip… and death by committee. It’s also quite difficult to get a balance of different kinds of people when the inclination is to nominate and elect people who are just like you.

So that’s the negative view… the positive view is that this society has been running for nearly 200 years, with I’m sure the same issues, so I’m sure it’s got another 200 in it! But it is truly an honour to be part of it. It’s one of those things that stays when I am gone.

I think it is changing gradually too. It is exciting to see the membership change… there are younger artists wanting to join. These artists have varying, broader practices, and they come from a wider field of backgrounds too. I have the feeling that while I am a member it will come to genuinely reflect the art and artists of Birmingham more than it does currently. (These things change slowly, which is a blessing and a curse, but slow movement can be its strength too) It’s going to be quite difficult in the coming years for the gallery to show six pieces of work from some of them… it’s no longer going to be a matter of screwing six frames to a wall, or standing something on a plinth. This is very exciting. In the last three years I’ve met some really lovely people, seen some really great art, and had some conversations that have moved and inspired me.

So I’ve shifted my diary around to make sure I can attend the presentation evening, when I will shake hands with dignitaries and my fellow artist members, have my photo taken with a huge cheesy grin on my face. Now is not the time for cool detachment, now is the time for gratitude and taking pride and pleasure in achievement.

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