Are you ready?
Are you ready for the obligatory ‘let’s-have-a-recap-of-the-past-year’ blog post? Why not start this new a-n blog with a recap of the last year?
In terms of Art, without a shadow of a doubt this has been one of the best years of my life. I am not writing this post to brag or humble-brag or otherwise be annoying, but I am more writing it to remind myself that not everything is so doom and gloom all the time (which is often the case when you battle bouts of depression). So many positive things have happened in 2018. I was talking to someone recently about it all and I was sort of saying ‘I’m so lucky’ (or words to that effect’ and something they said about how none of it has really been luck and that it’s all pretty much a result of hard graft and putting myself ‘out there’ despite my anxieties (most people believe me to really self-assured, but it couldn’t be further from the truth!).
I won’t go into too much about each thing that happened, as you can find out about most of it across the website here and there. Most of it will be art-based, but there will also be a few more ‘personal’ things that have made an impact. So anyway, here comes the obligatory lets-look-at-what-has-happened-over-the-last-year blog post:
- Not a lot, granted. Not a very exciting start, is it?
- Queens House Exhibition; Artist Takeover #1 – This was a really great opportunity. Work and Uni got in the way of me really squeezing the opportunity to the max, but I enjoyed it and I met some really great people through it.
- Began biking – Ok, so not very much to do with art, but this has been a huge thing for me in terms of my fitness. I love biking about, and I love the freedom it provides me. This was a huge thing for me this year.
- BCUR Conference in Sheffield – Following on from my win at the BCUR Posters in Parliament event in 2017, I went to the conference in Sheffield to give a talk on my research. I was super nervous but since I was one of the first ones up that day, it allowed me the space to sit back and chill and enjoy the rest of the day. It was in the car on the way home, when I wondered out loud to Jill Howitt and the others in the car why there isn’t a decent critical arts journal about, that the concept behind The Critical Fish was born.
- Developed heightened awareness of ‘living green’ – I’ve always known about it and believed in the value and purpose of it but it’s something that hit me like a tonne of bricks in April. I’m not even sure why. I know it wasn’t Blue Planet 2 -I’m not emotionally robust enough for that! If I recall, it started because it was icy and freezing and I was thinking about the poor birds and how they must be so cold and thirsty and hungry and it got me all bothered and upset. So I started crafting little bird houses and fat balls to hang outside my windows and then the passion for the earth and it’s creatures just grew and grew… Again, not directly art-related, but this has had a mahoosive impact on my work in terms of context and materiality. My current interest is surrounding environmental philosophy and I plan to exhibit work on this theme at my Littoral Vistas exhibition in Spring.
- Bit of a quiet month. If I remember correctly, my mood dropped quite a bit, I had pulled my shoulder out and I was spending every waking moment finishing sketchbooks and preparing everything for the Degree Show…
- Had an interview with Professor Peter Renshaw – what a lovely man. He’s writing a book and wanted to interview some art students about the things that mattered to them, and the role and value of the arts within a community context. I since sent a testimonial and have kept in touch with him – can’t wait for his book to come out!
- The Ten Degrees Show – the culmination of two years hard work! I’m smiling thinking about it now – I’ve just realised how much I miss the energy and excitement and comradery of my classmates. I miss being around you lot… This was such an amazing experience that I’ll be valuing for a long time.
- Roland Box Prize – kinda drunk when it happened (it was the night of my Degree Show, twas to be expected!) but HSAD gave me the 2018 Roland Box Prize! Gobsmacked to say the least! I didn’t know much about Roland at the time, but as succinctly put by ArtRabbit:
‘Rowland Box was a printmaker who studied for his Dip A D at Hull School of Art & Design in the mid 60s, working there in the mid 70s and also from 1986-89. He died in December 2015 aged seventy. He demonstrated technical excellence in printmaking and was a tireless campaigner for human rights and used his skills as an Artist to raise awareness of politically motivated persecution and cruelty, sectarian intolerance and violence. He searched for resolve and celebrated positives that shone through the chaos of hatred.’
What an honour. And for what it’s worth, I have since been unable to find out if it’s ‘Roland’ or ‘Rowland’, categorically (please take no offence Mr. Box!). My award said ‘Roland’, so that’s what I stick to!
- I registered my business with HMRC. It’s official! Big moment!
- Went on a much needed holiday to Spain. Was badly sunburnt by the second day, but I had a good time nonetheless.
- I was in Spain when it happened – I got my results! I got a First! I was so over the moon. It sounds so petty, but at Camberwell I just missed out on a Distinction (and it got me down), at Middlesex I again just missed out on a Distinction (and it got me down) … so to get a 1:1 with an average of 79% was a phenominal feeling.
- Think Big! at Humber Street Sesh – a wonderful experience. Was working on stuff to exhibit throughout August once I got back from my hols, and had an exhibition of work down Humber Street under the umbrella of Think Big!
- The boyf and I signed up to the gym, and 3 days later I blew both my ankles out. At the gym. The irony is not lost on me. Severe ligament damage and severe spraining. Didn’t walk for four weeks almost and limped like a good’un for about eight weeks. Not art related but it had a massive impact on me and my head, and therefore, my art. Was drugged up, in pain, not biking and not being able to go the loo on my own will do that to a person.
- I don’t want to share too many details, but to add insult to injury (literally), I had an operation (not ankle-related) scheduled for the week after I did my ankles in. The op and the aenesthetic and everything didn’t do much for my head either!
- August was mostly pretty crap, except for Think Big! at the start of the month and this: after months of working on it, Jill and I submitted our proposal bid for Fish to Arts Council England and City Arts!
- Quiet month really. Still recovering from les ankles and re-learning to walk straight.
- Graduation! I donned the cap and gown, and, in front of my mum, dad, step-dad and boyf, I limped up the stage and collected my 1:1. Smashed it, mate.
- Also on my graduation, I collected the 2018 David White Memorial Award. My second award in just a couple of months. Flabbergasted.
- Caspars Interior – I got a quick turnaround job designing the interior of a new crepe bar down Newland Ave in Hull. I spent a lot of time on it (way more than I originally quoted, so it’s kinda my fault I undercharged there!) but I love my designs (and so do the clients, and their opinions are the ones who matter!) and I can’t wait to see it open!
- Fish was accepted by Arts Council and City Arts! Woop woop! Jill and I got cracking straight away on the work to meet our deadlines. I was so happy. To get funding straight away like that!
- November was a period of a LOT of professional development workshops through ENRG. Lots of late nights, but I met some amazing people by doing so and learnt a fair few tips on how to develop my business.
- Was accepted as an UNION student! This is AMAZING! It means that for the next year, my arts practice will develop beyond belief and I’ll get better guidance on how to use the power of art for social change and for communal good rather than fumbling my way through it.
- Got the keys for my new studio space down Park Ave. It has been a very busy month so I wasn’t in there as much as anticipated but still… I have the keys!
- The Emergence Bursary Award. Omg omgomgomg – another award! This is also incredible as this is another means of artistic career support from Shape Arts, Disability Arts Online and a-n, and will be a huge boost to my profile and creative development as I plan to use the money to do courses and put on solo exhibitions etc.
And so, that is the year. An amazing year. Like, I’m almost nauseous because it’s a sickenly huge amount of good stuff. I feel like I’ve been noticed, which is a huge thing for any artist to feel. That’s all we want really, us artists, isn’t it? For people to like our work and who we are. I’m riding such a high right now and have this new found sense of confidence (a feeling I’m not too familiar with, to be honest) and I want this wave to keep going as long as I can.
At the moment, though, there’s quite a good few things to look forward to in 2019:
- UNION – being part of this for the next year solid. I’m sure to learn so, so much from mentoring and the residencies and meet so many new and passionate people on the quest to build a better world.
- Emergence – everthing that goes with this award. Confidence building, new knowledge, promoting disability arts, Royal Drawing School (hopefully), solo shows… let’s see what happens.
- Making work – obviously. Having a studio space now means I can make work a lot more freely and on more ambitious scales than I can do at home. This is the crux of my practice and I can’t wait to see what I get stuck into.
- Littoral Vistas – Exhibition in Hull at Central Library planned for Spring. Will be exhibiting work with Ten Degrees sistas Sinitta Beadle and Rebecca Addinell and I can’t wait to see what we’ll do with the space with curatorial support from the lovely Isabelle Tracy/Eunhae Cho – thank you for the opportunity!
- The first issue of The Critical Fish will be in May 2019. I’m so keen to see how it pans out as the first real big self-directed arts production that I can lay claim to (with Jill, of course). I’m anticipating Fish to be a roaring success, so from that we will hopefully be putting in for phase 2 funding
- The Feral Art School is going from strength to strength in the city now – I offered to teach a course, which, funding pending, they have said that I might be able to deliver towards the end of the year. Fingers crossed!
- I will of course, be developing my business as I go along. Hopefully, a few freelancey jobs will spring up here and there.
- This has yet to be developed, but I’m hoping my role within the Humber Recovery & Wellbeing College will be developed as the year progresses. I’m keeping quiet for now but with any luck you’ll see some awesome things from me through work!
- Something else? You know me, I’ll probably find something else to get my teeth sunk into… I’m not one for standing still for very long am I? I’ve already submitted applications for one or two things…
And that’s it. My year in review. A very busy but very fruitful year. I feel like a different person than I was at this time last year… I’ve certainly grown a lot. I have much more confidence in my practice than what I did have, that’s for sure. I might do a more in depth critical reflection of things in future, but right now, I want to leave it quite documentarian. In short though, a lot of good things have happened this year and I want to keep that momentum going – onto the next!