It’s always hard to know where to start, and I tend to feel that way with most things I begin, whether it’s starting university or finally graduating and wondering what next, meeting someone new, being a parent, making a new piece of work, or writing a blog, etc… But I’ve always found the easiest way to get over that initial anxiety is to just jump right in, so here goes…

I graduated from my Fine Art course this past summer, and while a lot of people seemed to be looking forward to having a good break in order to relax, reflect and adjust to life on the outside, I didn’t want to stop. I think there are probably a lot of factors why, possibly one being that I was a good 10 or more years older than most of those on my course, and had lived in the “real world” for some time before deciding to study. I’m at a totally different place in my life. I was anxious that having too much of a break might turn into a permanent thing, with all the other responsibilities I have in my life.

Maybe also because for the last year I had been a direct entry student into the 3rd year and felt I had only really started to assimilate myself and feel comfortable there.

I think however, that a large part of feeling I didn’t want to stop was because with 3 months left to go on the course, I finally felt like I had something to say, something that had to be said, a voice that carried through my work. I had at last found ideas, a process and a way of working that REALLY clicked with me, that people seemed to respond to and all I could think about was exploring it further. Never in my life had I been so engaged and interested in what I was creating, I felt I had a million ideas and I needed to get them out of my head.

Of course I did take a break. I couldn’t have kept up the same intensity, after 3 years I really did need to find a better balance for the other important things in my life.

Upon graduating I received the Emma Sullivan award, and was then also shortlisted for the Spike Island Graduate Fellowship. The latter I didn’t get unfortunately, but I did feel a real sense of accomplishment at getting so close,

In July, my 4 year old son and I visited my parents in America for a month, and it ended up being a great place to clear my head and readjust. Once we returned I was able to slide back into the job I had 3 years prior just before starting my course, at an art materials shop. First anxiety out of the way.

Not long after starting back to work I was invited to partake in a collaborative micro residency and exhibition with Matthew Robbins (a fellow student/artist from my course) at the Backside Space which is part of the Motorcycle Showroom, an artist led space here in Bristol. It was a great experience, especially because I got to know Matt and his work better. It also gave me room to really contemplate the idea of collaboration, and a fresh place to explore making work, think through ideas and organize an exhibition outside of art school rhetoric. Second anxiety out of the way.

In December, I was finally accepted into an open submission competition. I can’t even count how many I have applied for in the last year. The National Open Competition was at Motorcade / Flashparade gallery here in Bristol, and I was awarded 3rd prize. It was wonderful exhibiting with some really good and well respected artists, and to have been selected by such well respected judges, whose work I admire as well. 2011 ended on a high note.

In the midst of all of this, our son started his first year of school, developed a pretty happening social life… and now has chicken pox. (That was the first anxiety actually, him starting school, not the chicken pox.)

Now I’ve started…Anxiety momentarily deflated