Making Practice

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It’s nearly June and this is only my second post of the year (after saying I planned on blogging more). So much has happened so far in 2018 I don’t know where to begin. My dad passed away, I failed my driving test 3 times, once by driving up the wrong side of the road (!) but I have worked and worked and worked. In the freelance game that is awesome news of course. I love that every project I have worked on this year has come through word of mouth, being asked back, through conversations, some through me upping my instagram presence. It’s all been brilliant, I love working, I love what I do. I forget that ten years ago I yearned to be in the position I’m in now so every now and again I think it’s really great to acknowledge that.

But… I am also feeling frustrated that I’m not making new work. I’m doing so much workshop/community/participatory work it’s so easy to let your own practice slide. I ask myself what do I want to achieve? How can I get an equal balance between the community focussed / project management work and the thinking/ making/ practice work. How can I bring the two together more? Is that even possible? The ideal project for me would give myself breathing space for reflection, making, development, collaboration, idea sharing, delivering, making, responding, making, exhibiting. When you deliver a participatory project it’s like you’re providing a service to a client, you think about their needs, what their outcomes are and you prioritise those over your own. As an artist I want there to be more of a two way relationship. So often the things that really attract me to a project are the things that get valued the least, artistic development, time and space to make your own work, exhibiting opportunities. How can the culture of participation in the arts adapt better to providing artists that thinking and making space where it isn’t compromised over numbers of participants, or funders figures? I’m managing a project at the moment which doesn’t allow for this either, not for me as the artist but for me as project manager. It’s all completely down to the budget of course – there simply aren’t the funds to include this development space for the artist and I find it really frustrating. Well I don’t have the answers right now but moving forward, the simple acknowledgement for myself, is that this is what I would like to move towards in the next 12 months, more balance and a better understanding of an artists value.

Today I was working on my residency in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea working with families responding to the sea and beach. It was cold but dry – all the families and their kids had a great time. There is all this sea coal which was a great material to work with. I have really enjoyed this project, it’s extended my own knowledge of natural dyeing which is now my main focus for the rest of the residency and fuelled ideas for some other natural dye projects coming up later this year. There are definitely ways to be creative with your planning time and go through a process of discovery which contributes to your own development, which is how I’ve approached this project. The next event is at Miners Picnic at Woodhorn Museum where I’ll be doing a large scale printed quilt with residency artists Judith Davies and Stevie Ronnie. It should be a really good day.

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