Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sarah Lucas told Tracey Emin she had better be an artist because...

Sarah Lucas told Tracey Emin she had better be an artist because there was nothing else she could do – so says Emin in an interview re The Shop she and Lucas opened.

I have usually found a sense of pride in choosing art rather than needing art. Am I being a little ignorant (and indeed arrogant)? Are the only people who are likely to persevere and wrestle with being an artist those who need to make art work for them?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do next – every artist’s million dollar question, or perhaps just mine.

I have never been one of those people who ‘always knew’ I was ‘meant’ to be an artist. Before I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be an art therapist. That (and because I enjoyed art at school) is why I went off to gain a BA in fine art.

I credit the fine art course at Lancaster University with me wanting to be an artist now.

Now I really want to be an artist but realise also that I have be realistic about what that looks like. As far as I’m aware, even practitioners whom I would deem successful rarely earn their sole living from their making.

The big question is whether to pursue a safety net or not.

I have been wondering whether now is a good chance to start working part time towards qualifying as an art therapist (it would, after all, take three years part time). I have the means (just) to fund it without taking out a loan and I’m in a great geographical location to do it. Assuming I worked hard enough and remained convicted enough (big assumptions) I could theoretically continue with my practice in part (small parts, I think, because I’d still be earning my keep part time).

Enough waffle – in short, I think I could just about start training and still keep making a little bit along the way. Then, in the long term, a part time ‘career job’ could go a long way facilitating my art making as well as offering me some much needed structure and stimuli and contact with people.

However if art isn’t the only thing I can do, like it apparently was for Emin, will I ever be one of the surviving practitioners who wrestles, confronts and endures the rocky road of being an artist? Already when I hit the inevitable low that follows each roller coaster high I scout legitimate time-passers that allow me to avoid confronting the dips.

If I had a part time ‘career-job’ would I have too many legitimate escape routes from my studio and would I ever push on through to becoming an ‘successful’ artist?

Does anyone have any experience/input/words of wisdom to offer to input…?

(466 words)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

new look

ps, my blog got a new look today. I'm hoping it's a bit crisper. :)

The Cushion is thinning.

The Cushion is thinning. I’m so grateful for my residency – so grateful. The time and space is invaluable and I know that.

Last year The Cushion served me well. First year post BA in fine art there is a LOT to learn – thrust into the ‘art world’, hugely in isolation, for the first time with no institution reassuringly backing me – luckily the expectations are graciously low.

In fact, after meeting Matt Roberts (a hero) briefly last year, one of my key objectives for the year became to realign my expectations, prepare myself for the long haul, not expect instant success and even begin redefining how I perceive success.

But the cushion is rapidly thinning and I’m ‘catching the fear’ so to speak. I’ve already had half of my time in the residency – HELP! – and it’s hard to quantify what I’ve achieved. I’ve developed lots of new work, yes, but have no quality marker for it and I’ve not got it ‘out there’ yet.

I struggle with Big-fish-in-little-Pond v. Tiny-little-fish-in-BIG-old-pond syndrome. The former is far more comfortable. I am the latter. In fact the pond couldn’t BE any bigger and I couldn’t feel any smaller in it.

To make matters worse, I’m hopeless with balance.

I used to resent that I wasn’t laid back (I like laid back people, probably because I’m not one of them) but now I’m learning to be grateful for my drive and motivation. At least it keeps me working. But the down side of being driven (and competitive) and not being good with balance is that sometimes I get to be obsessive. My GCSE and A-level years were spent slogging at my work to prove myself academically and it came at a cost.

So now I’m afraid of ‘over-committing’ my time. I’m so frustrated with myself. The residency is really generous with time and I’m sure there’s so much more I could do with it.

I remind myself of a Bible story – a worker trusted with money but so afraid of loosing is he buried it instead of investing it; taking a risk, allowing it to multiply. Don’t get me wrong, I do work hard – but I’m missing the boat somewhere. I need to be getting OUT more, more private views, applying for internships, risking rejections with competitions etc. more, more, MORE! I need to do more. I need to take risks.

Makes me think of a poem, I think by William Arthur Ward, called Risk. Here are some lines from it:
"To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental….
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss….
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

Also, I’m afraid of getting lost and feeling lonely in the BIG POND.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Idea from Room3


A group of year 10 girls have just spent the best part of an hour in my studio. It’s fun to see how they connect with my ideas and watch them process what it looks like to be an artist.

Art in the ‘real world’ is so different from art at school. I’m glad to be millions of miles away from the performance of GCSE and A-Level art where I felt pressure for every page in my sketchbook to look picture perfect. I’m proud of my ‘sketchbooks’ now, scraps of found papers all bound together in various ways. They document important moments where I find myself in a different world and I just want to ‘draw’ – not draw pictures, but draw ideas.

Here is a photo of my most recent drawing:

The idea developed over 4 pages of scribbles following my 30 Seconds of Idea in Room3 (ref last blog entry) and I’m quite excited about it.

I’m hoping to exhibit in Peckham in February and am keen to develop my project in a direction that not only reflects an autobiographic interest and exploration into the notions of Home but possibly gives voice to some other people’s experience of home. I found that last sentence hard to spit out, it feels arrogant to assume that I’ll be able to ‘give voice’ to anyone or that I’m in a position to do so – but for now, perhaps we can assume that I will end up in a position to do so (before February), if I’m not yet.

So what I’d really like to do it make work that responds to what Home means when Home is living in one part of one of the local estates in Peckham. I’ve invited the kids at RMS to input into my ideas and one of them suggested theatrical readings of dramatic stories about home on the estates – but I know for certain that I do not want a performance. I want something really authentic and am trying to develop my ideas in a way that don’t assume a certain response to what Home may look like. Maybe the tone will end up more ‘I’m proud of my home’ than ‘gosh, home is a really hard reality.’

So this drawing demonstrates the latest development of my idea. 60 cardboard boxes (I bought them on ebay today – it feels crazy BUYING cardboard boxes!) with windows and doors cut out, but re-presented in a different context, different scale, different positioning etc. I really wanted to be able to visualise the size/scale of the potential artwork, so I mapped out (in space, with masking tape) the size of the piece depending on different size boxes - 3 different scale options (i'm going with the one in the foreground of this image.)

At the moment I’m thinking the boxes will be green...

…That's because of the history of where my project has come from.

Anyways, gotta run – once again trying to juggle time. Struggling with working for myself and other people legitimizing me not wanting to be flexible with time spent working for myself. Also, I’m trying to function with the discipline of 500 word posts! 498 today. (+ a few because I added a paragraph of waffle with image.oops)

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Half Term

I thought I’d write about half term - a week away from responsibilities that pay my keep. Whilst others planned trips home, holidays in the sunshine, a week of rest etc, I boasted heroic plans of a week spent ‘getting on with my own work.’ Things have felt like they are going well recently with my project so I had high hopes for this week.

Suffice to say, three days into half term, &my bubble is fairly well deflated. It’s been an anti-climax week, characterised by lack of motivation, two many sittings of This Morning &Loose Women &a battle with the value of my practice. I feel crippled by the lonely weight of working for &by myself.

As much as I find the technician jobs at the school under-stimulating I take for granted that they offer me time in the real world, adding a touch of structure to my life. This week has been lonely &I’ve found myself escaping into London just to have people around me.

Yesterday I went to see the Pop Life exhibition at Tate Modern. I knew I wouldn’t like it, but I’m glad I went; it’s quite a significant exhibition. Today I went to see the Turner Prize exhibition.

While I was in room3 I was struck with an idea for my own practice. I don't know where it came from. I can’t draw any connection what-so-ever between what I was looking at &the idea that came to me. But I think it could be an interesting development for my project &when it hit me I drew a deep breath before my sigh of relief. The tube journey into London today was spent fighting back tears because I felt so deflated but the 30 seconds of Idea came like food for my Making-Soul.

Perhaps tomorrow will be a good day, a day I can spend making in the studio. Then again, I thought that about this entire week.

If not … there’s always Loose Women. It is the holidays after all. Also I have a trip to New York that I can start booking and planning.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


It seems like an obvious development for me to develop the studies I've been working on, onto cardboard boxes (having used cardboard boxes a LOT last year and because of the interest they offer in their association with fragile homes). The following two images are pages i've scanned from my diary. I jotted these scribbles down at some point when I wasn't in my studio but started thinking about the application of the studies onto piles of boxes.

So i started to apply the green to the boxes, then have tried working patterns etc on top -- admittedly, not very successfully. Here are some of the stages of experimentation:

Box, painted green with windows cut out - but 'subverted' -- out of their original place, also possibly original scale.

Attempting to work pattern based on shapes and textures from wall surfaces onto the box, with shadows overlayed -- WAY too busy, totally unsuccesful.

So I tried one side of the box with no 'pattern', just shadows. Before I applied the lines of shadows, I covered the surface of the box with text - an account of someone's experiences of the war in Ambon. It's better than the above image, certainly, though that isn't saying much.

Right, must dash. SO much more to update -- ideas, experiences, thoughts re living life as an artist. BUT, I'm working on my time management, I've spent three hours today on my practice and I'm meant to be meeting someone in two minutes for a coffee.

over and out.

ps - here are some images from my design ideas for the previous work i've been posting up on this blog. I often think the outworkings of ideas are as interesting as any finished piece. you may disagree:

Drawings in Bethnal Green

A few weeks ago I went to Bethnal Green to do some drawings. I was looking for shapes and patterns found on the wall surfacces of the buildings there and trying to 'subvert the context' of the shapes and patterns I saw... as I have been doing with my recent studies (based on photos from Ambon). Here are some scraps of designs based on my observations.

I intend to use these, and my collection of photos/images from Bethnal Green, to develop some more studies/design ideas.

Tuesday 20th October

I've spent some time working out what to do with the last piece I posted up on here. It was first at school that I learnt that you can't be too precious about your own work (it helps that i'm not really that pleased/attached to this piece so far) so I decided to bite the bullet and cut it in half. I know it's not finished yet, but I'm not sure what to do with it yet. This is how where I'm at with it so far:

(I'm having an editing problem on blogger - I want the two images to be viewed panaramically (?) ... so they sit next to each other. Imagine them like that.)

Monday, 12 October 2009

editing colour

I've tried editing the colour in the photo. The edited phone defo looks better - which one is most realistic, I don't know. I took the pic in bad lighting.

Nevertheless, it's pointed out that the contrast is certianly important and more successful x

no time to write...

No time to write...

I'm struggling a lot with managing time in terms of working for myself - it's hard to validate time spent on my art. Sometimes I feel like I'm hurting peoply by turning down spending time with them because I choose to work on my art, but if I didn't I'd never get any art done.

It's going to be a squeeze to get 15 hours in this week, which in my mind is the absolute minimum amount of time I want to spend.

Nevertheless, today I squeezed in 4.5 hours and now I'm running late with lots to do. Here is a photo update from the days work:

more to come...

Thursday, 24 September 2009


So i'm quite excited, I've just been in touch with the local council and spoke to the community arts development officers. A friendly chap, willing to meet me and excited about what I'm doing. Such a relief, immediately I feel less isolated in my art making and am already looking forward to my converstation with him.

I've also spent much of this afternoon pursuing a vacant shop window in rickmansworth town centre to exhibit in. Whether it comes to frutition, it feels positive to be proactive. I'm keeping my fingers crossed as I post off my email.

Today Tom (head of art) honoured me in front of his year 13 class, letting them know how many applicants I fought off for my position here. His intention was to keep their feet on the ground about being an artist, but I drew encouragement from it and felt really humbled as I was reminded how blessed I am to have been chosen. Seeing how things have opened up in art making so far gives me hope for the future....

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Starting afresh.

Sometimes I'm way too ambitious with myself. My blog has become my shame. I wanted to share the whole story, from start to finish, and when i set this blog up i also set myself the task of back dating my posts by about 4 months, until I managed to bring it up to date. I didn't want to introduce my work part way through, without sharing (perhaps justifying?) the places it had grown out of.

I'm starting afresh. No more back dating - there is enough to write about today, and that's far more interesting anyways.

The residency is busy at the moment - it's the start of term at RMS which means lots of techinician jobs for me. Still today I found some time to make and also began to re-engage with thinking about art and about what I'm doing.

People keep asking me 'what's next?'. I'm on borrowed time with a second year here (it was meant to be just one year) and the pressure is on to work out what i'll be doing next. I am uncertain about the future, but I'm also only half way through my time here.
The other day when an academic member of staff was asking about my job, Tom (head of art) playfully commented that it was a bit like a 'gap year'. I on the other hand see it as the high point of my pursuit of a career as an artist...possibly the highest point, but I hope not. That's just insecurity speaking.
I have lots of unfinished ideas from 'last year' (though years roll one into the other just like ideas do). I don't think I'm very good at finishing - it's quite a challenging discipline actually. Carrying something THROUGH to completion. For me the 'through' is hard, through the fear of over working it, or indeed the fear of under working something. There is always potential to manipulate or transform something further, the 'what ifs', which my creative process are born out of, are endless.

But with the start of term, I allowed myself up to start playing with some ideas that I have been fostering over the summer. I'm putting some of my ideas from last term aside, to come back to - but I'm also hoping they end up feeding into whatever I do next.

For years now I've been interested in the surfaces of walls. I keep meaning to get myself into a run down part of London to photograph the walls, evidence of degredation, homes which to many people may seem unslightly. I find something very endearing about surfaces like that and the history they make reference to. For the mean time, I continue to refer to images I have from Ambon from a return visit my family mad after we were evacuated to escape a war.

Here are just 2 of many images that I tirelessly return to, time after time:

Not only walls, but also 'the domestic' - walls, windows, doors -- components of home.

I'm increasing interested in fragmenting and isolating the shapes (and possibly textures) I find on the wall surfaces and reducing them into very basic shapes. Outlining the shape of a wall, the windows - changing the windows proportion in relation to the size of the wall, re situating the windows as shapes in different places on a page. I'm trying to say with words what pictures might demonstrate far more effectively.

The windows at RMS are beautiful and I've been watching the shadows they cast in my studio. I've begun to trace the marks the light leaves, as it moves across my studio:

I love the linedrawings and mark making but haven't been very sure how to develop them. I tried a few things quite unsucessfuly, but then I began to combine them with the ideas I started to develop in terms of extracting shapes from wall surfaces and re-situating them on a page.

The first image show the shapes of the windows and walls repeated, following the pattern of a moving shadow. The latter three combine collages of wall surfaces based on shapes, overlaid with the lines produced by shadows passing through the windows of my studio. The green background is because our house in Ambon had mosque-green coloured inside walls; as it turns out an incredibly difficult colour to try and replicate.

Anyway, that's today enough for today, except to say that I'm playing with a few further ideas. I've painted the background green onto a carboard box - next I'll try working ideas from these studies onto the surface of the box and see what it looks like to wrap the shadow around the box. Also, I've cut up a few studies and used them to build up the walls of a model of a house I've constructed:

Any comments, input, ideas etc... GREATLY welcomed. thanks for reading. x

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

cardboard gallore/ October-November

As I was thinking about my battle with finding a material which allowed me to pick up a more 3 dimensional-ness from the surface of the bricks (and fighting with a frustratingly slow drying time with the cardboard smeared on the brick), it occurred to me to take a full cast of the brick (rather than just the surface of it).

I ended up working for weeks, making life sized cardboard bricks like this one. I was and am pleased with them, particularly the rugged edges.
Furthermore, the brick is fascinatingly strong/sturdy and retains few of the properties one would expect to find in a cardboard box. The brick looks fairly light weight and I wonder if there will be something to explore further in that.

The proccess of working with the cardboard, turning it to a pulp and then using the pulp to create becomes interesting when you think about it in terms of 'deconstruction and reconstruction'. It's something I'm aware of while I continue to develop these explorations.

At best, the bricks take an hour each to make. At worst (depending on blenders etc) something more like 1.5 to 2 hours each. The proccess became tedious, particularly as the bricks require weeks (literally) to dry out. I made upwards of 30 life sized bricks but then I stopped. I had a few ideas about what I wanted to do with them, once I had made a collection, but all my ideas required hundreds of bricks and I felt the whole proccess was too time intensive for the stage of exploration I was at. I also knew there would be no hard in leaving them be and returning to them at a later date.
In between brick making, I attempted to use the pulp to construct 3-D floor plans of houses I lived in. I started tracing out the floor plans, with the pulp, onto the inside bases of cardboard boxes. I experimented with a number of things, adding pigment to the pulp etc, but didn't come up with anything of much interest at least in terms of the floor plans.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Some personal histories and some values

Over the last three year I’ve been forced to make and articulate some decisions about the ‘kind’ of artist I want to be and the values I want to uphold in my practice.

I absolutely love this extract written by Georg Herold:

I’ve had it with ritzy art. I want an art that looks like it has been through as much as I have. I don’t want something to impress people in the living room; I want art that doesn’t make me look shabby when I stand next to it. I want art that I look better than. I want art that’s a survivor. That used to be an asshole. That suffered, wised up, got over and then went on to become a stand up comedian or a parole officer.

I want art that looks like you wouldn’t believe the day it had. Maybe the work has a hang over and who can blame it. But you can’t say it’s not on the job and on time.

I want art that looks like it was beat up for doing the right thing. I like art that might rot if you’re not careful. I want art that could be fixed for not too much money if my ex-wife attacked it with a hammer…

I don’t want ritzy art.... It’s vain, can’t pass up a mirror. Only talks about itself. I’m not saying I want poor art. I want rich art. Triple cream. Big, fat, sweet and inflammable. Not ritzy. Just loaded.

I, too, want art that looks like it’s been through as much as I have. I grew up in South East Asia. I’ve lived in a lot of different buildings and like most third-culture kids struggle to identify any one place as home. For that reason I’m deeply interested in the concept of Home – with all its associations, the idealisms verses the realities.

Ironically, in all the moving between houses, the one place I really do (still) associate with and consider ‘home’ was attacked and burnt down in a religious war.

I’ve been deeply affected and even defined by my childhood experiences, particularly those of grieving the idealisms of home. Sometimes I find myself in a cross-cultural tension which arises from spending my formative years in a country with different way of doing life.

As a kid, plastic mass-produced, disposable-ness never meant much to me. Now I’m not sure what it should mean to me. You, the people around me, look across to a place without plastic-ness. It’s a life characterised by scarcity and simplicity. Not my life, but their lives. I don’t think you really understand it and you can’t be blamed. I imagine that it looks a bit empty to you, possibly even boring. Usually I feel like you think something is missing. I want to tell you otherwise. I want to take the old, worn, ragged walls that would have disposed of long ago and show you that they can be beautiful. I want to take what’s authentic and flaunt it in the face of all that is plastic and mass-produced. I want to pay tribute to them; I wish they were my people.

My art practice aims to confront the questions and issues that my life has raised – often questions without answers.

September/October's work

Finally, true to word (if not a little later than planned) here are some images of the ideas and visual explorations I have been working on recently.

Although I'm most keen to document all that I'm working on now, bear with me as I try to offer some context for my ideas.


When I moved to RMS back in September, I needed to establish for myself a 'starting point' - not only for my 'next project' but also to kick start my transition from art student to aspiring artist.

In my second year at University I'd developed a home made modrock material which I used to take casts of the surfaces of bricks. For my end of year project, I applied the material to a wendy house.

The project was successful and I was sure that there was still scope for me to develop my work, taking the brick-modrock material as a new starting point. Nevertheless, regretfully, I didn't trust myself not to fall into the trap of trying to recreate a minor success and was afraid of becoming stale and repetitive. Instead of taking that risk as I progressed into third year I built a new project entirely.

This year, free to explore without the fear of failure and of not achieving a degree out of my explorations, I felt much less timid about revisiting the brick-modrock material. And so I adopted it as my new 'starting point.'

I began with the brick motif again, using different materials to take 'casts' from the surface:

PVA and mosquito netting

I chose to use mosquito netting, inspired by artist Do Ho Suh, whose work I first encountered at the Pyscho Buildings exhibtion in London (Hayward Gallery). Mosquito netting seemed appropriate for all the memories and assosiations it holds in the context of my childhood in Indonesia. In terms of formal qualities, I liked it's transparency & the idea that it's used to let some things through & keep others out. I thought it had a lot of potential to be interesting.

I'd hoped the PVA would stiffen the fabric so that it would pick up the relief of the brick surfaces - it didn't. Although the dirt from the brick formed an interesting pattern, I considered the experiment unsuccesful.

Plaster and mosquito netting

In the past, I've worked with plaster a lot. I thefore decided to try pouring plaster into the groves between the bricks, as a kind of mortar, in the hope that it would address the issue of the netting not picking up the 3-D-ness of the surface. It wasn't very successful either, as the netting tended to pull away from the plaster and the plaster cracked and crumbled.

Mosquito netting and hand stiching

Since I was working with a material I decided to try stiching the brick pattern in. I thought that by gathering material as the mortar it would become more three dimensional. I tried both hand stiching into the netting and also machine stiching. I much prefered the hand stiching to the machine work, but was still disappointed by the outcome.

Amongst all this experimentation some of the classes from the Textiles department at RMS were learning paper making techniques. As I was talking to the head of Textiles, Rachel, about my failed experiments she suggested that I tried taking a cast of the surface using paper pulp, from the paper making technique. I thought it was a great idea, and immediately set myself up to give it ago.

Newspaper sample, bricks

This is the first sample I produced. It's made from pulped newspaper.

The sample is fairly stiff and has very different properties from the home made modrock surface from my project at university. I liked it less, although do quite like the edges and the hole that accidently occured in the middle of it.

Taking a cardboard cast of brick surface

I decided to experiment with cardboard as well as the newspaper. I liked the brown/earthy colour.

This picture shows the process of taking a cast of the surface of the bricks. One problem I encoutered was drying time. The cardboard (and newspaper), unlike the home made modrock where the plaster set fairly quickly, took days to dry. Furthermore, it was barely possibly to lift the cast from the sufrace without it falling apart.

The home made modrock had very material like properties, but the newspaper and cardboard retained their paper qualities and were much less useful. For example, I wouldn't be able to curve them around corners in the same way.

cardboard 'cast' of brick surface
This is an example of the cardboard cast which disintigrated whilst trying to release it from the brick surface.

I do like it's archeological look and how it has become fragmented. I think it makes an interesting photograph, but is not particularly useful or easy to work with as a surface.

By this point I had become quite attached to cardboard as a material to work with. It's interesting to me because it draws assosiations of packing life up into a cardboard box and moving house. Also there are further significant assosiates for me, due to the stereotype of homeless people 'living out of cardboard boxes'.

And so it was in this way that I began working with cardboard, and from this point that my current project has really evolved.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Comparative Isolation

I've come to the conclusion that if I can make it through this year, still in love with the process of making and having produced and exhibited something, the year will have been a success. I aim to be realistic with myself and am beginning to acknowledge that this, my first year out of art school, may perhaps be the hardest year in my near future.

I had barely anticipated half of the challenges I have confronted since leaving a learning institution and regret how little value I consciously placed on my peers and on working in a shared studio environment whislt at University. I recollect being less than easy to get along with much of the time, driven by a competitivenses that is hard for me to shake and the uncomfrotable feelings of vulnerability and being exposed in the public-ness of a shared studio. I find it ironic that I once longed to escape the group studio (for all it's vulnerability and the relational struggles the followed me in that) and yet now, less than 9 months after leaving, I crave the artistic nourishment that came with working amongst my peers as well as the motivation to work which came from watching their work evolve infront of me. Apparently it's a 'normal' struggle, that new graduates face; that is 'sustaining [one's] practice in comparative isolation.' (Lucy Day, Art Consultant) Still, despite all it's heart-ache and struggle, I intensley miss the shared studios.

I've subscribed to A-N magazine, which has been an incredible resource to me, and has helped me feel less isolated and alone in my little making world.

I've had a bit of an adimn-y week this week, considering what it means to be a professional - and in that have had one of my semi-regular rearranging and reordering of the studio sessions. The words of Lucy Day have been ringing in my ears throughout the last week: 'Like many I know I was easily distracted into endlessly rearranging my studio, tidying up in preparation for the great plan.' I don't, however, think rearranging space is neccessarily a form of distraction -- though admit that at times it is a welcome and legitmate (at least more legitimate than facebook) distraction from confronting the Making Giant. In re-ordering, re-hanging and re-positioning documented ideas, drawings, testers, experiments, pieces etc I find I draw different assosiations between each strand of thought and see my ideas and experiments in a different light. There certainly is a value in that.

Yesterday felt like a good day. After a week away from making (I've been researching, reading, attempting to network, organising, re-ordering, thinking etc), I feel positive about my practice and am excited to work this afternoon. Yesterday Claire, one of the art teachers at the school, came down to my studio with me to help me process where I'm at and what I'm doing. As per usual, her fresh look at what I'm doing and her ability to relate to the creative proccess was invaluable and she has facilliated me with some new ideas and approaches for tackling my ideas.

...And soon, I promise, I'll finally get some of my ideas up on here. :)

Monday, 2 March 2009

The history behind the title

Art and life are tightly interlinked for me, with much of the motivation behind my work being born directly out of my childhood experiences. I value honesty and transparency, both in life and in art.

For that reason, I thought it appropriate to share a 'note' I wrote a few months ago, which will hopefully offer some context to the title of my blog and my transition from Art Student to Aspiring Artist.

I was looking through all sorts of notes on facebook the other day and stumbled across one of my own from a few months ago. I read it and remembered the struggles and frustration of one journey coming to an end (uni, and my degree in fine art) and not knowing what the next journey could possibly be. I've heard someone talk about the end of university being like the end of a conveyor belt and I remember feeling exactly like that. The anticipation of everything ending abruptly, with no plans for the future, in a career driven world, was daunting to say the least. The note I was re-reading was about finding peace for the journies ahead. I became addicted to Stephen Curtis Chapman's song, 'Great Expectations'. I set to ground my heart and mind in a promise from God which unfolded through the song words: 'I've been invited to come and believe the unbelievable, receive the inconcievable and see beyond my wildest imagination...'

And so in response to the song words I wrote this: The peace has been found in noting a promise for a hope beyond my wildest imagination. I'm ready to not go hunting for and try and win for myself the inconcieveable, but instead to receieve it. I need to learn a slightly more passive, trust rather than my panic-grabing at dirty strands of freedom and purpose and stability which I know won't satisfy.

Now I'm writing to tell you the next part of the story with the benefit of a newly aquired ounce of retrospect. I remember, in the face of leaving university, striving to 'trust' and not to worry about the future and what it may hold. In the end I resolved to enjoy the last few months in Lancaster and make my peace with not having everything lined up for the next step by the time I graduated.

One of the (many) days I was marching through the art department feeling busy I noticed an advert pinned on the notice board for a position as a resident artist at an all girls private school in Rickmansworth. I was amazed to read the advert, Rickmansworth being only 25 mins away from my family home and on the tube line for London. So I prepared and sent off an application.

Around that time I was toying with the idea of staying in and around Lancaster. I didn't want to leave friends and anticipated it would keep me nearer to Mike (my long term boyfriend). I started playing around with the idea of working at a local sixth form art college for people with complex needs. I was even handed a cut out for a job vacancy at the college; work was available, it seemed. And yet for some reason it felt right to wait and see what happened with my application to the artist-in-residence position, and I decided to not even apply else where. A totally differnet mentality from previous months where I'd spent hours reseraching potential work and filling out application forms - 'trying to keep as many doors open as possible'.

After a while I wrote to ask for some feedback on my application to the residency, which I presumed to be unsuccessful. The rest of the story may be obvious. My application hadn't be unsucessful and I was offered an interview. When I came for interview I was blown away by the place; what was infront of me was so far beyond my wildest imaginations and my highest expecations.

I got the position. SO far from my wildest expecation, my first year out of art school and I'm living independently and working as an 'artist'! Who actually gets to do that? I have 24 hour access to my art studio, which is at least 4x the size of something I could have hoped for. Probably more like 5 times the size I'd get on an MA course. I'm hooked up with my own office, free internet, computer and printer, a lush flat and all my meals are provided. My family (and friends from home) are only 25 minutes down the road.

I can't imagine any situation or place in the country more suited to me at moment. It only occured to me to write when I was looking back over notes from old and read that I had wanted to trust that God would exceed my wildest imaginations and that I would receive the inconcievable. I never dreamt it could have been this big, this far beyond my wildest imagination etc.

And now, of course, that I'm here.... I'm overwhelmed and daunted and plagued by seeds of self doubt (sometimes). But it's good for me to remember how I got here and expect that there is a purpose and a significance in it. I feel like I'm embarking on a VERY steep learning curve and though I'm excited, I do feel really timid in it too.

Anyhow, I just wanted to share my story with you. I hope it comes out as I meant it too. I'm desperate to empahsise that in my 'panic-grabing at dirty strands of freedom and purpose and stability' I got no where. I have a genuine faith in God and believe he showed me that he wanted me to recieve something and this is the undeserved, uber exciting, totally stretching and overwhelming, but utterly amazing deal I recieved!

Why the Blog

I've spent the odd few hours over the last few days scouring the iternet and digesting articles mulling particularly over strands of wisdom offered for the 'emerging artist' - a popular and optomistice phrase used to describe hopefuls like myself.

An avid amateur writer as it is, with over 50 complete journals from my teenage years boxed up for preservation, keeping a public 'artist's blog' seems a natural response to some of the advice I've been processing.

As an aspiring artist, I'm often criticised for being an over-thinker/theorizer. Though I've not yet reconcilled whether the criticism is fair (why shouldn't an artist think as much as a theorist, providing she still makes?), I hope this blog won't just become an outlet for my mullings over the meaning and purpose of art (and indeed life), but rather it will become an outline and record of my evolving practice and an insight into the perculiar world I occupy in my pursuit of the Inconceivable.