Saturday 14th January 2011

 

We it’s been some months since I last updated my blog, this is primarily due to the ‘knock on’ effect of the bits of success I’ve had.

 

My last blog dealt with the fantastic experience of visiting my friend, Mark Greco, down in Lewes, to show some work at the Lewes art festival over the summer. It was a fantastic experience and set me up well for all of the hard work leading up to putting in my Arts Council of England – Grant of the Arts bid.

 

I spent much of September writing the bid with Mark Winder, the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats RLFC Education Manager. It was great to work with Mark, and as a result I was able to spend some time at the Art House in Wakefield.

 

In between lots of incredibly hard work, we finally submitted the application for funding the ‘Wakefield Trinity Wildcats RLFC – Artist in Residence’ bid at the end of September. There is a 12-week turnaround on bids over £10k, and our bid was well over this amount. We would find out what the decision was on Friday 23rd December, but I will come back to this later.

 

October was spent preparing for my weeklong residency at the Art House and lots of meetings with Wakefield College and the National Centre of Craft & Technology.

 

The idea of the residency was to work with partners, mentor local artists and art students, in order that they could access what it is like to work in a professional environment as an artist.

 

At the end of October I drove up to Wakefield, pricking Mark Winder up on the way, so that I could meet and talk with the art lecturing team at Wakefield College. This was a wonderful occasion to be going back to the college, which had played such an important part in my formative years. I met with Mike Jacques, who runs the department and Alan Chadderton, who actually taught me all those years ago, at the end of the 1980s.

 

We agreed that I would give a talk to the students at the end of November, when I was staying at the Art House for my weeklong artist in residence.

 

It felt like much of this time was taken up with planning, writing bids and meeting people, but regardless of the fact that it kept me away from making art, there was still some amazing energy about the positive atmosphere which we created, through the ‘we will make this happen’ kind of ethos. It is there that people have supported me through moments of doubt.

 

It was also in this period that my PA/support worker, started working with me, which has been a significant change for me. Having someone to help with the wheelchair, with carrying etc., is such a massive thing for me, It means I can concentrate on what I need to do.

 

I wasn’t able to get to the Mobile Con 2011 event, in New York, which was heart breaking, but it would have been too much for me and I would have needed a lot of help to really enjoy the event fully. Maybe next year?

 

Although really busy throughout this period I managed to get some work completed, still working on the theme of ‘interventions’ – which kind of means my reliance on external things, in order to make me work, like the crutches, wheelchair, medication, etc. It’s such a fascinating thing for me to explore, that I don’t ever think I will tire of it. To be honest, sometimes I feel that I’m only just scratching the surface of what is possible.

 

What keeps me going is the thought of creating something, which will have a legacy. It’s always just out of reach and I am never entirely happy with what I do, as I want to do better all the time. These images which I have in my head are so numerous and the importance of time so great; I want to get them all out onto the virtual canvas, that is my ipad.

 

At the end of November I stayed at the Art House for a weeklong residency, which saw me meet lots of people, and organisations, prior to the residency starting at WTRLFC in March 2012.

 

I had an exhibition at the Art House, which was part of the residency, and part of the Wakefield Art Walk, which takes place every other month at numerous venues in Wakefield, where art is shown and people can access it. It’s a smashing idea that I think the city should be proud of. There was a real buzz about the place. I just wish there had been something like that when I was living there, and was an art student, back in the 80’s. There is a thriving artistic community now, with the Art House, Westgate studios, the Hepworth Gallery and the Yorkshire sculpture park.

 

I hardly recognise the city now, what with all of the new building and roads. It’s ironic that I’m going to be making art about my relationship with the city, throughout the term of the residency, but don’t actually recognise it now.

 

Anyway, the whole week was magical, with many highlights: working with my friend, Mick Hand who helped put up my show one night, just being mates and having a laugh; to the event of my mum and my sister, Angela, brother in law, Ron & my brother Neil coming along to see the show. It was a really amazing night, and very emotional too, with mum being touched at the paintings I did about my dad.

 

I think that’s what makes art, or making art, so special to me, so important, is the fact that occasionally, very occasionally, it kind of speaks to people – and the ‘people’ on this occasion being my mum, made it really special for all of us.

 

The whole week was amazing, with the exhibition, the meetings with the college, the talk at the college, and meeting an artist who is going to be part of the mentoring programme. And at the end of the week I gave a workshop at the Wakefield Carers event, which was held at the Belle Vue Ground – the home of WTWRLFC.

 

It was an incredible event, at which many carers and the organisations which support them attending also. I gave a very different kind of talk about my work, as I was talking to people who may not be technically ‘aware’ – or aware of the arts as such, so I approached the talk about my work from the human angle, and it went down really well.

 

The highlight of this session was giving the ipad over to the audience and giving them an opportunity to ‘have a go’ with it and make some simple art images. I use the term ‘magical’ a lot in this blog, but that is exactly what this was, seeing people who had significant disabilities, where they could only use one finger, were able to make simple line drawings using the ipad. It was incredible to watch and be part of. It was a great way to end a marvellous and productive week.

 

The week at the Art House was incredible, but I did miss my family so much. My son, Lawrie was really good at ringing me and sending me emails, but it was great to see them again.

On 6th December I was honoured to be asked to speak at the 'Pecha Kucha' event at the Hepworth Gallery, which meant that I had to give a powerpoint presentation, consisting of 20 slides, timed at 20 seconds each, which was an amazing experience, as I was focussed on 'getting to the point', which seemed to go down very well. I even gave a little dance of celebration at the end.

Leading up to Christmas was taken by the usual festive activities and by the fact that I was aware that I would hear from the arts council on 23rd December, regarding their decision on the WTWRLFC Artist in Residency bid. It was with some relief, I suppose, that we were informed of their decision to defer until January 13th, which meant I would have to wait for another 3 weeks, but that I could at least have a complete break from bids, and writing bids, over the Christmas period.

 

 

 Me with Alan and Gale Chadderton at the opening of the Art House Show - 30th November