I wasn’t always an artist* although in my soul I always felt like I was meant to be an artist. I didn’t have any direction or any goals as to how I could possibly escape a 70hr working week and make any of this happen. When I finally found a way to change direction in 2005 and start on my arts journey I had three goals:
1. To exhibit somewhere, anywhere!
2. To have my own solo show.
3. To exhibit at the Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea.
The first goal I achieved before I’d even started on any arts course and whilst I was still a maths teacher. I entered a photograph back in 2007 for a competition called Postcards in the Park. As a runner up I exhibited at Mile End Pavilion in London. At exactly the same time the world Lomography conference was happening in London and I was also exhibiting right in the middle of Trafalgar Square. I felt like I’d won the lottery. Is this how it was going to be for the rest of my art career? Cucumber sandwiches and champagne with Joanna Lumley? Well, no. I got lucky I suppose and the long years of slog then set in with little exhibitions all over the UK and eventually the world.
The second goal I achieved shortly after graduating from Photography in the Arts in 2010. My first solo show was at elysium gallery here in Swansea in 2011. Called Self [other] it showed eight large collage pieces that I’d spent the best part of a year working on. Some of these pieces sold whilst other smaller pieces I created as a spin off from this went on to show in New York. So far so good. I’ve had a few solo shows since. I’m not planning another solo show for a while since it takes such an immense amount of work to put together a collection worthy of the space.
The third goal has been very illusive. I’ve been in group shows across the world. Next year I’m showing in Australia. This year it’s been Serbia, USA, and various places across the UK. Since 2007 I’ve hit nearly every continent but still, getting a show closer to home hasn’t been a forthcoming opportunity. The Glynn Vivian Open Exhibition used to be here every year but the gallery closed for such a long time to have a refit I never thought I’d have the opportunity to show here. Even before it closed I felt a little intimidated. I hadn’t yet found my artistic voice and wasn’t sure that I’d want to face the rejection of not being selected. Even this year I hesitated before entering. I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough, which is ridiculous given that in 2014 I was good enough to show my work at New York Fashion Week. I think the real reason is that I wasn’t sure I wanted to set myself up for the failure of not realising my third and final goal. So imagine my surprise when I got in.
It’s been 12 years since I set myself my three goals. I’ve been to places that I never imagined and achieved far more than I ever expected. So what goals should I set myself now? Where could I go from here? I don’t know. I do know that I made the right choices in getting to where I am today. It’s not been easy but I’m a far happier person now I’m here. The future is a wonderful place to be in. I can’t wait to see what the next 12 years will have in store for me.
The Glynn Vivian will be showing my work until the start of January. Open daily (not Mondays).
*I used to teach high school maths.