Friday, November 19, 2010

Poppyseeds in my teeth

Three months since the last post. Once again it's not for lack of things to write about, but rather where to begin. Wine and poppy seed cake are helping me make a start.

It has taken three months to get back to some semblance of fitness after the hospital incident, but as they say, there is a some good in everything. My invitation to enter a major drawing prize lead not only me producing a large number of drawings, but also to win the award. Drawing was the perfect activity during my recuperation. Inspired by this I put in a proposal for an exhibition of very large drawings which today was accepted. I didn't expect that!

It isn't easy being an artist. I know all my friends with 'real' jobs laugh when I say this, but it's true. It's hardly the romantic picture conjured up in movies of soft lighting, billowing white shirts and lots of wine, food and sex. It's hard. It's messy, expensive and often means months of no income. Top it with being a single parent and try getting a bank loan. I am my bank manager's worst nightmare. Galleries take 40-50% commission, even on prizes; add materials costs, freight and framing, tax and studio rent and before you know it 20% of the selling price is looking pretty good. Despite this, I wouldn't swap my life for any one's. Is it OK to just have a niggling, momentary envy of others who can buy nice face creams, wine and shoes?!? Momentary because as soon as I open the newspaper and see what others are going through around the world I feel fortunate and petty for thinking otherwise.

The Boyfriend remains, and I have yet to make sense of it all. Officially homeless, he recently bought a flat not far from me. He's in that awkward stage of settlement being too soon to rent elsewhere, but nothing so short-term being available. The Teenager and our own small home make it difficult for me to offer more than a few days at a time, and a relationship based on needs rather than desire isn't the best. I've put it in the 'review later' basket for now. Meanwhile we still have some fun amongst the chaos. For all the chaos I still seem to attract some media interest; another publication is about to do a feature on my home. It's great but it would be really great if they would write about my work instead of my home, for a change.

I have so much more to catch up on, but at this moment I need my bed. Enough wine and cake, and enough of a ginger cat who has just discovered poppy seed cake. Surely it can't be that good for him?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Emergency wards and mending musings

What is up with this year?

For a couple of weeks I have been feeling a bit run down but 'pressed on' as most single parents do, until suddenly I was in such crippling pain that my doctor sent me straight to the emergency department at the local hospital. Almost a week later and I am finally home with a bagful of drugs, recovering from both pleurisy and pneumonia.

It was a strange experience for us all. The Teenager suddenly found herself having to fend for herself, The Boyfriend was without a date and my life as I know it went into 'holding pattern'. Now that I am home I still need to rest, and so am embarking on reducing all the paperwork that still needs catching up on after six months of writing, painting and exhibiting. But nothing really went wrong whilst I was away.

This evening as I made a valiant attempt at 'mending' The Boyfriend's favourite shirt and trousers (which I would have put in the paint rag basket myself if it weren't for the the fact that they were Paul Smith and Hugo Boss) I found myself musing as to how this year has unfolded. I haven't 'mended' any man's clothing since my husband's, and we separated over a decade ago. It feels weird. There has been a subtle shift in The Teenager's attitude since my hospital stint. She is suddenly making gestures of independence. And I am more relaxed.

So here I am, stuck at home recuperating during the biggest art week of the year, missing out on all the openings and closings, parties and after-parties, lectures and forums, champagne and canapes, schmoozing and gossiping, but I am OK. Not happy about it, but I am OK.

One small compensation, I have been selected for a fairly salubrious invitation-only drawing prize. Now I just have to get better and get drawing.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Why I paint

At a time when life can seem hectic and focus sometimes elusive, it is my work that returns me to a place of quietude and reflection. In considering the poignancy of small detail, the subtleties of light and the forming of connection, I find my voice and make the work. There are no distinctions or boundaries between my life and my work, it is all connected. It is the everyday observances as well as the extraordinary that influence and inspire me. The child of peripatetic parents, distance and connection have long been both my comfort, and my torment.

Between any two points lies a gap, their distance only defined by their distancing, and within that distance lays their connection.

Within the gap the points may be close, such as is the case with family, self and other, or far, such as in two points in time, but inevitably there is a link. Like most artists, one of the major concerns underpinning my work lies in not only making connections, but in trying to form connections that others might also relate to, and find meaningful. It is the quality I seek most, however for me it is a difficult subject to put into words when painting about it comes more readily. The work I make reflects both ends of my sense of, or search for, connection and filling the void that lies between.

In between I search for the words and images to bridge the gaps, the gap between concept and thing, the physical and the imagined, memory and experience, the intuited and the observed, the tangible and the intangible.

As a source of inspiration in my search for meaning and connection it is the both the phenomenological aspects of light and the ambiguities between our perception of shadow and reduced visibility which produce subtle colouring, and the minutiae and often over-looked poignancy's that I find most engaging, whether it is the physical traces of where others have been, such as the worn-down stone steps at the entrance of a centuries old European church, the ephemeral traces of weathering and time on matter such as the foxing of an old mirror, the lustre of weathered metal, old paint peeling off walls, doors and frescoes, water-stained paper or cloth, rust marks, translucent wax, sagging glass, somebody else's hand print. Traces of others having been, which remind us of our place in an ever changing world. We are connected by what we leave behind. Consider this.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On losing a friend

Shortly after starting this blog I mentioned my local community. My 'hood' and how much I love it. The family I have when I have no other family in this country. On Saturday we lost one of our finest members.

About six years ago D was diagnosed with cancer. The 'hood' rallied round, funds were raised and treatment sought. D pushed through, returned to make my coffee every morning, and continued to be the warm, generous, funny and wise woman that all of us who frequented her delicatessen loved. Great stories of the weekends adventures, late nights clubbing, meals cooked and eaten, local gossip, love-life advice, we loved it all. From time to time she went back for more treatment, but before long she was back at the espresso machine. Until further treatment was no longer an option.

A week ago I went to help celebrate her 44th birthday. It was a huge bash, happy but sad, as D and her guests fought to hold back the tears and laugh instead. To smile, laugh and have fun with the woman we all loved. One week later and she is dead. She lived her life to the fullest, with courage, love and the very best of friends.

We will miss her enormously, always. And I am reminded to make the most of every moment, to treasure my friends and family, and be the best I can be. Now.

Friday, May 28, 2010

On being overwhelmed

I am writing with a bandaged hand and a glass of wine, it's been a long day. Actually it's been a long month.

To keep it short, in this month:

  • I've had two solo exhibitions in different cities
  • Been short-listed for a major prize
  • Featured in a glossy magazine
  • Adopted a wild cat
  • Spent half the night in ER due to same cat
  • Ridden the tsunami of The Teenager's anxieties, daily
  • Ditto The Boyfriend's
  • Seen very little of my friends
  • Had little support from The Teenager's father

It's been a big month and I'm not sure where to begin, but this is a start.

x Sunday

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Alive if not active!

I cannot believe it is now almost two months since my last post. Things have never been so hectic. In the past two months I have:
  • Handed in my thesis on a topic I barely understand myself, dealing with the subject of spatial perception and connection in painting.
  • Presented an exhibition to go with it.
  • Taken my beloved, if terminally ill cat (and neighbourhood hero) to the vet only to be told it must be his last day. I cried for weeks (and still do).
  • Participated in a fabulous group show with some major artists.
  • Lost my favourite dealer and supporter to cancer, and cried some more.
  • Been invited to join a new gallery and present a solo exhibition, opening in a couple of weeks.
  • Prepared for another solo show elsewhere, also opening in a few weeks.
  • Forgotten how to cook.
  • Participated in another group show.
  • Pretty much lost my social life.

And the list goes on. The Boyfriend (yes, formerly known as The Lodger!) and I are still together despite my manic hours, he seems to be fairly understanding of my need to paint almost every waking hour, and gives me the space I need; The Teenager (not a teen for much longer) tries to be understanding but is occupied with her own life and concerns.

In the midst of all this I am looking down the barrel of The Milestone Birthday. Soon. Very soon. Somewhere between solo show openings lurks not only mine, but also The Teenager's Major Birthdays. Not that I have time to think about it too much right now, but I am afraid, very afraid. Shall I ignore it as I have valid reason to, or celebrate? I don't know!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Today I finished my thesis, oh happy day!

13,638 words and two years later, it is done. I hand it in today, and get my life back. Just in time, as The Teenager and The Boyfriend are sick to death of it, and me, almost. Champagne tonight!

More soon,

x Sunday