My Lost Library project started off as a wee idea – I wanted text to become movement. I have tried figuring out where my project could fit into art council wales funding and persevered longer than I ever had before (this was all before this January) and also applied for a Community foundation of wales grant – unsuccessful. I made (a big decision for me) a decision to go ahead and self- fund all the way through the project with my own set budget (a monthly stipend from my p/t job earnings). This has freed me up – I choose who I work with and without a good budget it certainly has limitations, but those are more helpful than hindering at this time. And with this being my first foray into expanded practice for my own art, rather than working for and with a group of artists – it means that my own aims come first where it really matters.
I am not waiting for permission, or for months to hear about a grant. I am aware that to progress as a professional artist I really need to get funded, but now is perhaps not the time. With this project I have reached a point for small celebration with sponsorship, new books donated and text of Border Country received from the publisher.
I think I am way too serious and often forget to mark these moments – to me it can seem like almost nothing compared to what I want to do! But by registering these real positives only a little I am psychologically harming my attitude, progress and whole mindset. I need to remind myself that by not waiting for permission and doing all the leg work, organising and relationship building that I have done over the last many months I have proved to myself ( and this is often important to me, an award is great, but I still have a lot of prove to myself to foster my quiet confidence) that I have the patience, persistence and stamina I need to create really complex, interwoven in the fabric of society, perceptive work, whether in community, collaborative practice or in the painting cave that is my shed. The other thing I am re-learning, which I had been doing more of a couple of years ago – is that I need to get out there socially, art-socially and other interests socially (and there are many, I just haven’t been doing much about my other interests). While I’ve had a gap in blogging on here regularly – (I decided to journal just for myself for a while, be more private) – it was incubation time. Every day I am writing somewhere and last year my studio was covered in little notes about just about everything I was doing. I am trying to cut down on the bits of paper everywhere (but you might not think this if you walked in now) and contain them and focus them and myself more on my art practice aims and the practical side of it, alongside the essential getting it out there.
I now feel a real drop off of artist contact of mentor-like artists, I have occasional contact of one who I consider a mentor, and I can see the value in going it alone for a while, but when face-to-face is the way I understand people the best, this lack of regular mentoring is a real ache. If I apply my attitude of not waiting for a mentor, then what could I do? Do it anyway…but this is no different to what I am doing. I could say I am simply not doing enough – as in not enough making. If I am my own mentor, then my advice to myself is to make more of what I am currently doing, as long as it is challenging me. Which it is, the big challenge is to make work no matter what others opinion of it is. No matter how I feel. No matter if it is sunny or raining, light or dark. Go out to my shed, listening, seeing the garden in all its disarray, make work while the blackbird washes itself by the doorway, splashing away. Allow walking out at night, under the stars, to make me feel small and allow strolling out in the day to make me feel privileged to be doing this.