Marzen, Wisconsin, and why strangers are just friends you have yet to meet…

I’m really pleased to announce that my next exhibition will be at Marzen Gallery in Madison Wisconsin until 5th January. I’ll be showing as part of Layers: A Multi-Artist Exhibition which features the work of Elsie Berget, Mary Bero, Rhea Ewing, Dennis Nechvatal, Paula Schuette Kraemer, and myself. I feel really privileged to be finally showing in Marzen and to be amongst such talented artists. The opening reception is this Friday as part of the Atwood-Winnebago Winterfest. You can read more over on the gallery website by clicking HERE.

What’s really exciting for me is not just that I’m part of this event, but how this exhibition even came about. It’s a long tale which started back in 2013 when I travelled to New York for my sister’s wedding. It’s the furthest I’ve ever travelled on my own so I was very careful to make sure my accommodation was as welcoming as I could find. So I stayed at the awesome 3B Bed and Breakfast in downtown Brooklyn and where I found myself sharing breakfast with an eclectic bunch of travellers and artists from across the globe.

The running joke since then is that I’ve seen Michelle more in her pyjamas than I have in any regular clothes. Her and husband Jim were living their own story which involved Bette Midler, Coney Island Mermaid Parade and a whole heap of other adventures during their travels to New York from Wisconsin. [You can read Michelle’s story HERE] We got talking and kept in touch and through the next few years exchanged conversations, photographs, and common interests via the wonderful thing that is the internet. One of the strongest connections we discovered is that we have a common belief that destiny is something you create for yourself. Motivation and movement doesn’t happen through the power of memes; you have to make it happen. You can try and you can fail and that’s ok, but you have to be prepared to try. And so, even through we have different life stories and are thousands of miles apart, each day we set our own goals and we try.

Fast forward a few years and I’m looking for new places and opportunities to show my work in the Americas. The art I exhibited as part of my New York Collection travelled to New York Fashion Week in 2014, over to Colombia, and then out and about on the West side of the world*. All the while Michelle managed to miss seeing my art anywhere near her home. In 2016 she even planned to take a 400 mile round trip to see one of my sketchbooks showing at The New Bohemian Gallery in Brainerd Minnesota but snow stopped her from getting close. She continued to follow my art adventures and I continued to follow her disappointment at being unable to see my art. I figured there was only one solution; if I couldn’t get Michelle to my art I had to get my art to Michelle. Simple really when you think about it. Just send a bundle to her on permanent loan. It’s bound to be bringing her more pleasure to have it on the walls of her home than it is for me to just have it in storage in a cupboard somewhere gathering dust.

Michelle couldn’t believe her luck. Here is someone she only met for a day or so in 2013 taking a chance and sending her a bundle of pictures. I mean, when does that ever happen? You meet an artist and that’s usually it. If you see their stuff in a gallery and if you want it in your house you have to give them money. Who would trust you with their art and send you seven pieces in the post and ask you just to enjoy them? Well I would and I did. I figured it’s pragmatism over pride, common sense over covetousness. To me, they’re beautiful pieces of paper and glue expressing some ideas I had in 2014. They are worth more to my soul than they are to my wallet and I would be happy knowing that they’re enriching the souls and the lives of other people across the other side of the planet.

With this ethos in mind Michelle has done all the hard work in finding a gallery to show my artworks. It’s taken a while, what with real life taking precedent, and that’s more than ok because real life should always have precedent over my little pieces of paper. There was never a time limit on her sharing these pieces or any conditions, contracts, or obligations on how and when my pictures should be shared. All I ask is that they are enjoyed and that they are shared. Art should be seen rather than a scene. Art should be something accessible and obtainable.

So what’s next? Neither of us knows, or dare to dream. We’ll continue to motivate and inspire each other and see what life deals us and where it leads. With all the dark and horrible things that the news tells us are happening in the world, it’s important that we all do our best to counter this in some small way. This world is a wonderful place full of chance encounters. If we’ve both learned anything over the last few years it’s that strangers in a Bed and Breakfast in Brooklyn are just friends you haven’t met yet.

Thanks to Michelle and Jim for all your support. Thanks to Margaret for curating my work. You can see Layers: Multi Artist Exhibition at Marzen, 2345 Atwood Avenue, Madison WI 53704  until January 5th.

 

*Before you get excited Mr Taxman, I’m a nothing so as yet nobody wants my stuff. I’d love to sell in Sothebys for millions but I still have both my ears and have failed to grow a twiddly mad moustache of any kind. I’m always at the point of giving up on any of this stuff because I’d make more money working in McDonalds.

Advertisements

Meanwhile, in St Pancras

Last week saw the opening of my second consecutive exhibition in London. Sewing Circle Rethread features 23 artists who feature needlework and craft in their artmaking. The exhibition is at the Conference Centre in St Pancras Hospital and curated by Elaine Harper-Gay and Peter Herbert. The exhibition space is quite unique since it is part of the working hospital. Exhibitions are often themed in a Health Care Conference Centre setting since most footfall is from healthcare professionals and other medical staff.

It’s always exciting to be displaying in strange and unusual gallery settings. It is important to me that my art is inclusive rather than exclusive and that it has ‘chance’ viewers from all walks of life. Artists themselves do not, and should not, exist in a bubble and any chance for cross-disciplinary talks to engage others in the Arts has always been key to my practice.

Sewing Circle Rethread is showing The Conference Centre, St Pancras Hospital, 4 St Pancras Way, NW1 0PE London, UK. Opening times are Monday to Friday 9-5pm. Show runs until 12th January. I’m hoping to make the journey across to London soon to see the show in-situ. Meanwhile a load of photographs from the opening night are available on Facebook by clicking HERE. If you find yourself in the area go see! You won’t be disappointed!

Swansong

A few months ago I spent the day in a pub cellar listening to Swansong by Mudlark continuously for seven hours. Just let that sink in for a moment…

…seven hours…

Yep.

That’s a long time.

Let’s face it, for any sane person, listening to your favourite track over and over for such a long period of time would break you. Even if you were completely in love with a particular band, seven hours would probably be enough. You’d give that music a break for a while until you fall in love with it all over again. This hasn’t happened for me with Swansong.

It’s an occupational hazard when you’re shooting music videos then you’re inevitably going to be listening to something for a good long while. There’s not just the shoot, but the hours of editing that inevitably follow. It can either be a pleasure or a torment depending on whether you connect with the music. I refuse for it to be a torment.

The beauty of the music videos I make, as part of Stone Letter Media with Ben Honebone, is that we only want to work with projects that we connect with. We sometimes seek out bands that we know we have a vision for, because we know that what we can create will match up perfectly with the philosophy of the band. We’re big fans of Mudlark to the point where we made their video for Frankenstein’s Ruth first then only asked them if they wanted the video afterwards! Mudlark’s music is something dark and wonderful. They weave sounds together in such a haunting way it’s both unnerving and familiar at the same time. There’s a kind of symbiosis between these guys that just tells you they’ve known each other forever. There’s an uncanny beauty about their music which I just can’t quite put into words. I’m always left with the feeling that Mary Shelley would be writing Mudlark’s biography with help from Pink Floyd. It’s this feeling that we wanted to capture when we made the video; a sublime yet comforting darkness.

But I digress…

Tonight they’re holding a launch for their new single Come Clean/Swansong at Fuel Rock Club in Cardiff. I’m gutted that I can’t be there because these guys deserve the time, the support, and the accolade for their music. Doors open from 6:30pm.If you can’t be there at least check out the video. You can find more of Mudlark over on SoundCloud.

Capture

Anti-confidence and the Art of Losing

When I deliver my workshops I’m always mentioning that I’m not a very confident person. It’s difficult for people to understand how this can be true because I’m the one delivering the workshop to help others feel more confident! I find it easy to bring out the best in other people because it draws attention away from myself. I can find the strength in others because I can see the positives in the current situation they’re in without seeing all their life history dragging them down. I can help other people feel good, but making myself feel good and promoting my own strengths is something I find very difficult to do.

How can I explain this better?

I remember something my Gran and my Mum used to do. Gran hated washing the dishes but she would come over to our house and wash dishes for Mum whilst she was out. Washing your own dishes is a chore and a bother which seems to never end, but washing dishes for other people does them a favour which they appreciate. Mum would return the favour by doing dishes at Gran’s house. Each had conned themselves into turning tedium into novelty just by swapping homes. By being pragmatic and generous to each other, household chores became pleasant surprises to be bestowed upon each other.

We all get by a little better with help from our friends.

Sometimes though you have to dig deep and go solo in putting yourself out there. Why do I find it so hard to promote my artwork, to go to exhibition openings, to send emails out to organisations to promote workshops? Well, it’s because I’m putting what small confidence I have in myself on the line and tempting rejection. Procrastination and doubt can be crippling in convincing myself that I’m setting myself up for a fall.

So what do I have to lose? If I’ve already convinced myself that I’m going to fail and there is no point in doing something then surely I have lost already. So if I’ve lost already then I have absolutely nothing to lose? Hey… hang on… Let’s just think about that for a second… I HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE!!!! Genius!

I am not confident, I am anti-confident. I am rallying against my own lack of self-belief and doing it anyway. I can ask friends for help because I’m not scared of the reaction they might give. I’m angry at myself and rebelling against my own negativity.  Tell me I’m wasting my time and that you don’t like what I do. I don’t care. I have nothing to lose.

So here’s a video promoting me. I made it over the weekend and with a little help from my friends it will positively put me out there. I’m not looking for ‘likes’ or counting the number of views. I’ve done it. I’ve broken my own self-imposed cycle of negativity and am running with this as fast and as far as I can.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Capture