the unexpected part of this blog has been the emergence of the possibility of this whole thing being a hobby.

i know it’s not ……..  it has been my full time occupation.  however i have expereinced evidence that others might view what i do as a hobby.

of late i’ve realised it’s been a long long time since i considered i had a hobby.  in fact i have to go back to when i was  lower sixth student.  for my formative teenage years the family pride was in my aspiration to become a teacher.  i’m not sure where my aspiration began and i knew that i didn’t fully believe it.

in my school career there was evience of the as yet to be recognised dyslexia.

outside of school i found solace and friendship from further exploring the theatrical experiences i’d had at school.  a new theatre opened where i grew up and soon they started a youth theatre. with some friends from school i joined up.

the exact timing of what happens next eludes me.  the youth theatre told us of the national youth theatre (nyt).  it seemed something exciting and something i could possibly do.  i was after all quite competitive at school, playing and representing the school at football, rugby, atheltics and volley ball.

at the same time of the news of the nyt at school was the time to make higher education choices.

it wasn’t until very recently that i saw i was good at art up to when i had to make my choices at school … i don’t think i’ll ever fully understand why i didn’t take art further than year 3.

i do however have a memory of sitting with the school career adviser discussing post school choices.  the details of the conversation are faded but the overall outcome still sits with me.  i sat and persuaded him to let me apply for something other than teaching on the basis of my application to the nyt being succesful.  i was taking a huge gamble on turning my hobby into something more.

when i applied to university as a teenager there were very few opportunities to do the sort of thing i wanted to do.  i got a place at goldsmiths college in london.  it was conditional.  i never met those conditions.  everyone was surprised i didn’t reach my potential.

i was in london when the a level results came out. i took the day off from my nyt duties and took the tube to the goldsmiths.  without any sucess i pleaded with the college for a place.

during 2014 i found my offer papers from goldsmith. it was good to see them again as i had no recollection of what degree i’d applied for.  the paper informed me it was sociology and communication studies.

i’ve gone through the wondering about what my life’s path might have been like if i was accepted into goldsmiths college, who i might have met, what i might have done.

but … my dsylexia was unrecognised … my path was ill informed.


instead of goldsmiths i took turning my hobby into a career further …. i took a year off and applied to several drama colleges.  i was accepted by lamda to their stage management and techincal theatre course.

i did indeed turn my hobby into a career.


so what if my art practice is a hobby ?  it might be easier as i’ll be more able to do what i want.


and …


i have previous experience of making a hobby into a career….

and …

this was  aided and abeted by the help of others….




something i can address in 2015 …… my connection with others who can aid,  and abet me.










in recent news, belper have won a national competition. part of the prize is mentoring packages for locals.  this morning we’ve connected corridor arts to suggesting some mentoring.

corridor arts is something i’ve been involved with since 2010. it’s a group activity that when i step back and reflect upon it, it’s actually quite succesful in what it does. it’s certainly more succesful than my personal practice in connecting to bodies external of itself.

corridor is building an attractive set of partners.  this morning i started to dream of adding the forestry commission.

our idea this morning is to suggest to the prize holder that corridor arts can benefit for some mentoring.  we’d love for that to be our contact we made at the forestry commission through our #goandseebursary.


in my reflection of this 12 in 14 process i note that the activity with bringing people together as one of it’s main intentions is more succesful than my own practice in which i’m simply exploring my own ideas.  the notion of success being one of connecting to and being recognised by others.

i see a need to reconsider how much time i put into making my own stuff and how much time i put into corridor.  this is going to be made easy at the moment as i need to create something to represent the art walk idea. i think we have a title and a web address for it.  the next thing is to craft a call out and spread the word about it.  as well as the art walk, belper now has an award winning high street.




another conversation with the office of the accountant today. further claification of the hobby senario.  further thoughts about the ongoing status of the self employment.

this morning i’ve seen mark carr’s blog for the first time.  i’ve not read everything yet however i did get a sense of that need to be doing formal residency positions to feel that one’s practice is an entity that has meaning.  to use business language for a moment, the market for residency participants is a saturated one.


the hobby senario as described by the accountant actually works well for an artist.  the revenue looks at the hobby as something one does for oneself.  how many artists want to make work for themsleves?


for those artists being paid, how many of you get paid for just being you and doing what you want to make?  the paying artists campaign suggests currently that the model for artists doing their thing and showing it in public galleries is for the majority a hobby as the vast majority don’t get paid.


do you have to be paid to be considered an artist?  do you have to be paid to view oneself as an artist?


are you driven to make something in response to an inquisitiveness about what your idea might look like?


i’m asking these questions of you.


they are of course to myself as well.


happy belated solstice 2014 xx




today is the day …. sadly not for bears and picnics but for me to count up all the opportunities that i made contact with.  i set myself the goal of applying to 12 and imaginatively used this in the title of the blog.

i knew by somewhere mid year that i’d made 12 and pushed on to see how many i could make in total.

in making this reflective post i think i am trying to answer the question:

is it worth my while applying to opportunities and in making the submissions does it make me a better artist. does it make me an artist?

in amougst the external opportunities i made two for myself.  i wonder if i could have made more?

i have this morning counted up all the opportuities i connected with.  it was 18.

here is the list of all 18 :

28 Jan digital residency quad
17 Feb go and see a-n successful
20 Feb residency art house Wakefield
20 Feb borderland exhibition Italy – didn’t take further due to 100 euro submission fee
21 Feb eco centre spring fair succesful
24 Feb donations box north mill successful
27 Feb art angel open
20 march k film for transition Belper successful. Project has evolved and is still on going, currently is cup of tea challenge in development phase
15 April expression of this interest to high peak arts
9 may expression of interest to Buxton opera house
16 may submission to Kerry baldry’s one minute video volume 8
29 may expression of interest in programming opportunity in Berlin
28 august expression of interest sent to forest school opportunity
01 September expression of interest in a-n the musical successful
01 October submit to Nottingham castle open
31 October submission to site gallery for residency
23 November submission made to 2020 gallery cork
05 December submission made to pause exhibition


questions i need to ask myself now are :

how many did i apply to?

how many were succesful?

what’s my success rate expressed as a percentage?

how many opportunities were succesful because of word of mouth?


so i know i applied to 18.

4 were succesful

my success rate is 22%

i’d say 3 were succesful because of word of mouth.


i now have a question for myself. if i had not set myself a task to make so many in a year, would i have made so many.  i can’t answer that.

however looking forward will i put so much time into applying knowing how low my succes rate is and actally of my success, 75% of it was due to word of mouth.

does my low success rate define me as a poor artist? financially : yes.  culturally i don’t know if there is a possible answer.  i am the only person who can say if my quality is poor, or my cultural input is poor.  for everyone else my position is a definition based on their own circumstances. i’m part of that too for other people.


as i compiled the list of the submissions i was amazed at the variety of submission.  i think it’s weakness in my practice but very much a part of me.


there is good evidence that i am not making a living from my practice. however there is also evidence that over 70% of exhibiting artists in public galleries aren’t either.  so where does that leave me?

finciacially i’m on the same footing as 70 (was the actual figure 71%?) of the practicing artists currently in the uk. their work has been deemed suitable to be seen by those in a positon to make that choice.

one of the recent applications replied saying if i’d like to know more about the descion to make contact.  i’ve written back asking for some feedback about the total number of submissions and the number of succesful ones.  i also invited some feedback with  “don’t be polite”  included.  if my submissions are poor i’d really like to know why in the opinion of the selector my submission was poor.  if there is a recurring pattern i would be able to do something to improve.  as a collection of people the art world seems to struggle to help those trying to find their way.


maybe i’m missing the point ……  if i’m trying to find my way, i’m too lost. however we all supposidly have a practice in which we strive to find our way …


i’m pleased with myself for attempting this blog and i’m so looking forward to rounding it off, having a break over christmas and coming back with a slightly more informed position about my relationship to the artistic opportunity.
in reviewing the post before publishing i note that of the opportunities one is still ongoing. the work with transition belper has evolved quite a way from the original idea of a k film. in that journey i have proposed a project outline that has been agreed and to get the ball rolling so to speak have started to work specifically on the cup of tea challenge.


if i take this as another sucessful opportunity the figures become this:

applied to 18

succesful 5

success percentage 28%

word of mouth success rate 80%


i feel cheered within myself.


footnote #2

i’m interested in how i can maximise the opportunities i make for myself.  i have some questions …. lots of questions ….

also what’s the difference between an on going work and an opportunity ?

where does opportunity sit within my practice?


1 Comment

my artist statement has been something on an elusive collecton of words.  in considering it i’ve wanted to say something yet still retain a certain level of maintaining something for a viewer.

for some time i’ve had my statement expressed in coded form.

today i’ve updated the contents in line with my current research.