Back to Athens

This weekend, I’ll be heading back to Athens to take part in Platforms Project , represented by SCI .

Although its really exciting to be involved in International projects like this, it brings up the old problem of how to get my work there.  It has to be light in weight, but also able to fill a fair size space.

It took me ages to get going and I had loads of failed projects on the way.  It was just by chance then that I had a conversation with another artist who was telling me about his old studio in the Bridewell.  I think we started talking about the Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate and got on to the subject of music ( don’t ask me how we jumped to that!) …..So this guy was saying that he wanted to impress an artist in his studio (many years ago)  and recorded some obscure soundtrack & played it loud when the said artist was passing.

The artist was Adrian Henri.

Henri’s work had popped up recently in an exhibition, so I thought I’d take a look at his work and poetry again.  I had been looking at poems for inspiration and wanted something about Liverpool…and also possibly something very English… like TEA.

Up popped ‘Go to work on a Braque’.  It was a bit silly and slightly nonsensical, but it had several references to Liverpool landmarks PLUS a line about tea!

I stole it.

I’d used tea and teabags in earlier works and found it really light, but durable.  So I set about drinking gallons of tea so that I could save the bags.

The results are a blind with the words of the poem and a portrait of Henri himself.

 

 

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Paint on the kitchen work surfaces

This month has been a bit manic, as I’ve been working towards two exhibitions. The piece for the Sheffield exhibition (which actually opens next week – argh !) has been put on a back burner as I really couldn’t get it to work.  So while I’m still out of my studio (too cold)  I’m working from home and putting all my energy into the  Southport ‘Door’ exhibition which also opens next week (see images below)

It always helps me to work on something completely different for a while to take my mind off the problems I had with what I will keep calling ‘The Sheffield piece’. Having so many unfinished works on my kitchen table has made things a bit chaotic at home, but hey ho, what can you do. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this .

So… the work I delivered to Southport yesterday was a photograph, which  I took in France and a sculpture made from a recycled ceramic.

I actually take photographs nearly every day but I never think to exhibit them. It was good to frame something up for a change. The ceramic piece took a while to complete, as I wanted it to look fragile , but it had to be strong enough to be screwed into a block of wood as a working door handle.

The hands on the hand sculpture were taken from a piece I made last year ‘The Birth of Icarus’. (see below)  I was glad to be able to re use the entire original.

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Walking the City

This blog helps me think, which is why I do it.   Reading over my last couple of posts was like viewing someone else’s problems and seeing the ******** obvious, which was obscured to me because I was right on top of it.

It helps if you just write things down.

So anyway, yes, finding the motivation to do stuff and then  getting the work out there…

I hardly ever apply for exhibitions as I usually work in group shows with people I know. So it was quite fortunate timing that I saw a local call out for an exhibition that was actually free to enter and virtually on my doorstep. What a rarity.

It wasn’t a theme I would normally choose and I really didn’t have the time to start completely new work while still working on The Sheffield piece ( which I haven’t done much to by the way as I keep getting frustratingly distracted by inane stuff)   But I managed to rework an old piece and deliver it while I was in town anyway.

6 weeks into the year and I’m finally shifting myself.

Loverpool    On til 19th February.

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I lost my invitation to the party

I say ‘lost’, to cover the fact that I wasn’t actually invited. I started to feel that way this week anyway.

Right now, I’m waiting for the glue to dry on work I should have started weeks ago and while waiting, I’m using the time to write. I’m working from home by the way. The temperature in my studio hasn’t risen above 1C since October, so  I’ve only paid fleeting visits there in the last few months.

So yes, writing about my different than normal week:

Monday, I went to work. That was normal.

Tuesday, I took a day off. This is the advantage of not being self employed – I can do my own stuff and still get paid.  I’m feeling positive at this stage.

I went to an afternoon talk at the Walker Art gallery by one of the artists in the looking North exhibition that I mentioned in my last blog. To be honest,  although I loved his work, I could hardly hear what he was saying as he was so softly spoken and there was a video blasting in my left ear from the next room. Really, they should have turned it down (or off!) while the talk was on, but hey ho, who am I to say ?

Because I could hardly hear the artist talking, my focus drifted to other conversations going on in the ‘audience’ …  congratulations about exhibiting and invitations to exhibit further. Hang on…loads of these people seem to know each other…is this a closed artists club I’m eavesdropping on? Surely not. Positivity starting to drain a little….

I met quite a few people I knew anyway there, but apart from being invited to a presentation at the Victoria Gallery on Friday, nothing else came from the afternoon. (for me anyway)

Tuesday night, I went for a meal with the people from work and despite all working in a gallery, the conversations never touched ‘Art’. Working in the arts makes you very cynical (in case you haven’t already guessed) Artist Nina Edge was running a workshop in the gallery the following morning when I was back in work, tired and feeling particularly grumpy (me, not her)   She talked to me about problems she is having with prints she is showing at the Bluecoat’s 30th Birthday exhibition ‘ Public View‘ . An exhibition of work by artists that have shown there over the last 30 years.  We always find fault in our own work though. They looked great when i saw them. I secretly wished I had a print problem 😦

Thursday, work again and as traffic has been horrendous lately,  I got home too late to go to the evening life drawing class at my local gallery.  Its only once a month (1st Thursday of the month) so I’m gutted to have missed it. 6.30pm is kind of early for most, but I’ve made sure I’m off for the next one.

Friday, I took another day off . I could really get used to a 3 day week, but I can’t afford it.     I spent most of the day working out ideas for  work and fundraising for our inclusion in the Helsinki Art fair in May. I’ll go more into that in another blog as there’s still a lot of sorting to do.   I met a friend in the evening and we went to the presentation at the VG&M. We really thought it was going to be a chance to meet the Chinese artists and talk to them about their work, but it was a long presentation, heeded by fact that every sentence had to be relayed again by an interpreter.  We lasted about 45 mins before making our excuses and walking hastily down to the hill to the Bluecoat.

By the time we got there, all of the wine had been drunk and people were starting to drift off. It was still quite busy though and we got to talk to a lot of artists… everyone who is anyone in Liverpool was there or had been. Networking.

There’s a lot of work in the exhibition – way too much to absorb in one night, so I need to go back.  I knew less than half of the artists involved. Why was that?   What was I doing when all of these people were getting themselves out there ?

I heard a few people saying that it was one of the best shows they had seen there for a long time  (which I agree with ) …....  Others asking artists who seemed to have ‘done well’ how things were and  got the same…so so reaction. Things are definitely not as good as they used to be for them.

The whole week has really made me think about how I spend my time. Obviously I can’t take time off every week and I can’t go to every Preview…but perhaps I should make a little more effort?  Its clearly not about sitting in your work space and …erm….working is it?

 

Seeing others

It’s really easy to let blogs slip when you have to work for a living.

Like most artists, I have to prioritise what I do on my days off.  For those non artists out there, that’s probably an easy decision – you see friends and family on days off.  You go out and enjoy yourself (hopefully anyway)  and just do stuff.

For those of us stuck in this way of life decision we’ve made, in between doing all of the above, you somehow have to fit in not only time spent on your own work (artwork that is) supporting other artists by going out to see their work and then letting people know what you are doing work-wise. Blogging…social media etc etc.

How do you do that if 5/7ths of your week is spent just earning money?

You probably don’t.

So this is a weird way of starting off a new set of blogs for this year I suppose , But what’s the point of writing about how wonderful and fluffy being an artist is…when it isn’t really. Is it?

Its day 29 of the year and I can honestly say that although I have thought a lot about work in those 29 days, I’ve done very little physically.  Its taken me this long just to work out a plan of action for an exhibition I will show my work in quite soon.   Being a small space with 8 other artists involved,  I’m limited to what I can do .

I wanted to do something with slate, as I found a stack of it dumped while out walking my dogs.  I’ve cleaned it and broken some down…. (actually, just realised that I have done something after all …hmmm…)  But then trawling though the internet for ideas, all I could find were cheesy images painted on slate. Blurgh.

So yes, hmmm… I’ve digressed, this blog was going to be about what things have inspired me, exhibitions I’ve seen etc etc, but then I got totally sidetracked.

Being honest, despite planning to see so much over Christmas while I had time off, the time just went. I didn’t see one single exhibition OR produce a finished piece of art OR blog about it.

So yesterday, I forced myself to go out and see some exhibitions in Liverpool . That sounds awful saying that doesn’t it?  Oh what a chore…It was cold and i’d rather spend the day wrapped up, watching TV. What if we all thought like that though? Would artists survive?

First stop was an exhibition by Michael Lacey at A Small view in Liverpool.  The exhibition had been on absolutely ages, but yesterday was the last day.  The space is upstairs in the Gostins Arcade. Couldn’t find a website, but you can follow them on twitter   The arcade is a really interesting concept with loads of independent shops and a couple more galleries opening ( as I was told by the Small View person) I hope more people go, as it was really quiet when I visited.

As the name implies, the gallery is a small room. Nothing else.   The best possible use had been made of the space though and it complemented Lacey’s work. I tentatively asked what else was coming up… partly because I was half contemplating applying for an exhibition..   I bottled out though.  I’m not happy with my work at the moment and I need to think it through more.

This ‘overthinking’ has been my downfall I think.  Especially when I visited exhibition No 2 at the Walker Art Gallery.  Looking North  is an exhibition of work by North West artists.  I recognised all but two names.  It is a really good exhibition, but it really made me question how artists are picked for these shows.  I didn’t mean that to sound disrespectful to the artists involved – all have work worthy of showing,  I was just curious. Is it that they work constantly so always have their work on show somewhere?   Do they know the right people? Mix in the right circles?  Or do they know how to get their work ‘out there’ by other means? Blogging, social media etc etc?

Do they work? Or are they supported and can spend every day in their studios?

I’m glad I made the effort to go out and see what is happening.  I’m not saying that I now feel happier about my work, but I have felt ever such a small spark triggering in the grey cells.

 

 

 

Heading to Sweden

I decided to to use the pile of tea that I’d emptied from the bags, before making them into the book.. Building the tea into cones, I found that it added to the relevance of  not only re using as much as possible, but left a  visible residue of drinking the tea.

This work is now on display at ArtMobile, Vesteras in Sweden

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