I will be away tomorrow and don’t know what to do about the blog. I could summarise when I get back. Nothing really matters. I am finding that knowing I ‘have’ to blog later in the day is focusing my mind a little. It is still nothing more than chat. I do enjoy it. I am toying with creating a structure for a ‘book’, even down to the smallest of details. I assume that once such a document exists it is a simple task of adding flesh to the bones. I have the basic idea in mind, a novel. The story has been following me like an amorous dog for years. With descriptive prose like that, sure to be a winner.
So many projects, so little enthusiasm. Email is taking over most of my life. If not replying to it, filtering out the ones that suggest I need a larger cock or that extra bit of help keeping it up. I have been finding and adding more information about PQ to various websites in the hope of expanding the global nature of it. My ultimate hope is that I can take an issue to the troubled middle east and sort out the mess. Politicians don’t have all the answers, to be frank; I don’t think many of them know much. Not about real life.
When I was doing the degree, we had a small gallery. It was around the corner from my house and I managed to persuade other students to pay for it. I ran it, we all coughed up, not much, about twenty quid a month each. We sold work, we had other artists keen to ‘rent’ the space, and it was a good little project. I don’t think we did the place justice as a gallery and every now and then I get thrown into mental torture when the building is available again. It is now. People seem to rent it for short periods and use it for dubious reasons. Party hire shops that are rarely open, a flower shop that didn’t last long. Horbury is an odd place, none of the shops are normal. Hat shops for middle aged ladies. A specialist cake shop. Gift shops that don’t sell anything nice or useful. We had that unit for eighteen months, finishing when the degree was over. We had a lot of press coverage, some of it ‘controversial’ because of the type of work shown. People knew about the gallery.
I want it back. I feel like it is still my gallery. If I could afford it, I would open it again. It would be part studio (a desk, kettle, radio) and part gallery. It is small but just enough of a space to make it work and it is self-contained, one of the cutest buildings I have seen. I might post a jpeg.
I want to work more. I want days where I do nothing apart from draw and paint and make. Too much time is spent on the computer or fiddling about with other chores. I have it quite good really, plenty of time, no real pressure to get a ‘proper job’, time for the children. One day a week locked away in a garret with nothing to do but work, smoke and scratch my arse. Oh, you can’t smoke in any confined space anymore. Works, fag break, scratch my arse. The painting never happened, the net got in the way. In the end, you prioritise. I can paint next week, scribble, daub. Not painting has cleared my mind a little as to what it is I need to paint for the PEEP! show. I have the images already sketched out; it was the surface that was causing the problem. I have no money. Ideally, for this show and to double up for the next, I would be making them on canvases. I only have boards or paper. I don’t have the right sized boards and my jigsaw skills leave something to be desired. I don’t have the time to find boards that are suitable, so it looks like a paper based and odd board job. It should be all right. I am bored of this post. Fuck it.
I feel that I should start with ‘dear blog’. Prepared the boards this morning for a burst of feverish painting tomorrow, whilst watching Bill Hicks. Chewing over what to put in PEEP! over the festive season. We could leave the MTS show in place until the first artist, Kathryn Cooper, appears in January. She is doing a residency at the Daniel Shand gallery in London at the moment. There is no pressure to change the show, there have been no public declarations of intent. I wanted to make some new work, with a vague festive overtone to put in the gallery. Modern icons of this time of year; celebrities taking on the lead parts in the nativity. Mostly a chance to paint and play. Soap stars do panto, why shouldn’t they replace the Biblical cast. Katie Price/Jordan/Mrs. Andre in full virgin dress with a golden halo, the blue of her garments making a striking contrast with the orange of her skin.
I have until December 10th to either make new work that I am happy with or abandon the idea of changing the show. I wouldn’t use my name in any case. I want a series of roughly painted boards, almost naive, with text. I will hang them in little groupings with other smaller scribbled pieces. Possibly paint on a roll of wrapping paper and let it unfurl down the length of gallery one. I like the idea of there being a gallery one and a gallery two in such a small venue. Gallery one was the original space, gallery two was added later after a chat with the owner. I like the idea of two artists showing, one in each gallery. I like the work that is being offered to PEEP! to be shown, though I still don’t feel that anyone is really going to challenge the space in any radical way. We can play something that I assumed would be attractive to artists. PLAY! was even considered as a name, especially with the added relevance to the location. I like PEEP! though; a bit seedy.
On a number of occasions people have suggested, with the best of reasons, that MTS approaches the arts council for funding for the vast number of projects we have either done or have planned. We have always resisted because we don’t like jumping through hoops and if you have any conviction about your work, you should make it happen. Be creative in finding the solution to lack of money, opportunity or location. The begging bowl alternative is too easy and when refused any help, it is often a poor excuse for an artist not to make any work. Art is a calling; you sacrifice everything to it, no matter what. Anything less is just pissing about and play acting. Artifice.
Deciding that it might be worth asking rather than ignoring them, I tried to contact them today regarding the PEEP! Quarterly. What actually passed through my mind was; if they send us a cheque for five grand, we fund four issues of PQ and divert the rest of the cash into other projects. Two birds, one stone; fuck ‘em. Four issues in and we’d know if PQ was ever going to be viable financially. I sound like such an art whore in that last sentence. They make it difficult. You have to read reams of rubbish to see if you think you are eligible before you can speak to someone local who then suggests you fill out the three acres of paper before they tell you whether they think it is worth pursuing. Added to that was the offensive and patronising woman on the end of the phone who refused to ‘get’ what I was describing about PQ; I tried art talk, normal talk and guttural banter. Nothing, not a twitch.
I will attend their seminar on funding, more for the chance to observe stupidity in action than any hope that they will help. It really wound me up, someone shitting wholeheartedly on a project. Not based on any fair judgment or constructive criticism, just the lack of understanding or insight or breadth of vision. And you have to allow them six weeks to reply, in which time you cannot get the project going, or they will refuse to fund it even if they intended to. We have probably already broken that condition because we have listed PQ in some arts listings as an open submission; I am receiving material every day. Poverty continues to be my future.
I still don’t know what my project proposal is all about and at the moment, I don’t really care. It might be PQ, it might not be. I might write a musical.
A productive day organising the PEEP! artists. Plans and jpegs and proposed dates have been sent out and so far, no one has backed out. It wouldn’t be too much of a problem if they did; MTS always has work to hang in an emergency. Ideally I want a space that features a gallery but has the flexibility for so much more. I don’t know if I will ever get this. I did try years ago to get an arts centre off the ground and we did receive some initial funding from a local council. I was young, did as I was told by the councillors and spent it on a feasibility study that confirmed what I already knew, but in a well presented bound copy. A document I could have written, and then charged myself, then ploughed the money into actually starting the project. I got a cheap car out of it.
Gradually the project faded, as did my friendship with the other partner in the scheme. We were full of ideas and youthful vigour but whether we could have actually run an arts centre well is another thing. It would have been a steep learning curve. Life would have been very different. I doubt I would have gone on to do the degree. I would have become a suit wearing pencil pusher and very unhappy with it. The great bonus of being an ‘artist’ is the lack of demand to be either clean or presentable. Especially now when most of the ‘business’ of doing is on-line.
An advert is up on a-n for PEEP! quarterly; this should generate some more interest. The concept is for a core book/publication, housed in a box, with other items/multiples to add that special extra bit of excitement. You can peep into the box. A boxed gallery, a multi-media experience. I will write for it, provide drawings, edit the selections, curate the whole thing, sweat over it, and stay up for endless nights gluing, trimming, and worrying. I think that this qualifies as ‘my’ project even though it is an anthology of contemporary art. I am hoping for stuff that has an edge, really creative thinking. It is almost a mini-business, we are making a small investment that could break even or fail. If we recoup the costs involved and have enough to finance issue two, I will be happy.
MTS continues. We have two issues to make before the end of the year. I want to do a limited run and send them together, wrapped and tagged. The themes are ‘3D’ and ‘Festive’. It annoys me that we continue to be three months behind on our plan to publish one issue a month. At the beginning I never thought we would get to issue sixteen but we have. Many of them have been produced for specific exhibitions; it really is a good vehicle for that. They act as a compact portfolio. We have never really solved the distribution problem. For a while we had a mailing list of people who wanted an issue, or people we wanted to have an issue. Feedback was scarce and it ended up feeling an empty way forward. We may as well make two copies, one each; it would be cheaper and just as satisfying. There was an idea to approach some galleries, send them a batch and a dispenser and at least this way they are picked up by random and hopefully interested people. Bookshops and selling spaces were never keen to offer us potential retail space for a freebie. I can understand that. We need to resurrect the gallery contacts, build an audience.
We have a small show pencilled in for January in a trendy art cafe in Huddersfield. I don’t mind, it’s an excuse to make some work. It is the kind of venue that if we make something vaguely saleable and price it right, we make sell and in turn that would give us some money for PEEP! Q. I have to make some dummy work tomorrow, see which of the ideas work best.
The problem with a rolling blog is that you can write a lot of useful stuff and forget what has been written. Useful to nobody else, obviously. I think the task set today, to begin next week, of planning a timetable will be useful. It is easy on a virtual MA to crack on with all manner of art projects and forget that you are on a mission to bag a piece of paper and possibly another chance to wear a motor board. I consider myself to be quite an organised person and yet I am letting a lot of the routine MADA tasks slip.
I tend to do research all the time without thinking of it as research in any formal sense and so don’t bookmark or copy and paste, therefore I have little or no evidence of what I do. Without a timetable, I will probably write the proposal bullet point essay thing two days before it is needed in a mild panic. Even with a timetable, that will probably happen. I should construct two timetables. One would be the preferred timetable of the diligent and productive student and the other the actual timetable, based on years of trial and error of attempting to do things the correct way.
As I understand it, this blog can act as a part of the research in so much as it being a forum for ideas and discussion of possible direction. My main difficulty will be in seeking other examples to contextualise what I do. There are other publications and other blogs and artists who deal with similar issues in whole or in part. I assume these things exist; I don’t really look around that much. I know as visual people we should but I am bring honest, I don’t, much. My instinct and the addled mind within the head do all the work. I just type.
On the subject of which, such a smooth link you’d think I did plan this but really, I don’t; this is blog week. For no other reason than I thought I should, I will be blogging every night. I ought to write every day and I intend to. I did consider setting some sort of framework to it, like a certain number of words every night or an off the cuff topic to discuss but in the end I opted for none of that. Each entry will be a reflection of my state of mind that day. I don’t know what the point is other than making me write. The point comes later, with reflection.
I think it is time to reflect a little. I do need to tighten this project proposal and get hold of it; as much as I would like to ignore it, I am on an MA course and I don’t think that I can get away with simply making work and doing stuff and then expect to get the bit of paper at the end without some justification. I work by instinct a lot of the time. PEEP! the publication was literally a moment of clarity. It felt right to try and get it off the ground, there was no planning or scheming and I made myself start the project rather than worry about the value of it or tremble in fear at the scale of it all.
Almost a week in and the inbox is filling nicely. People want to get involved. This could be the ‘society’ mentioned in the original proposal. A book is a gallery space; this is an experiment in curation. There is a real space and it is situated in a very dead town. Two weeks in and that project is proving useful. People have travelled to see the gallery and all of the feedback so far has been positive. I am quite fortunate that I don’t need to sit in the space all the time but because of the location I get to find out what is being said.
It was suggested at the tutorial that I look at what MTS doesn’t do. MTS doesn’t do collaboration with other artists. PEEP! in both guises does this. MTS exists in a place that doesn’t exist; it defines the boundaries and stays within a very much closed world. PEEP! has to exist in this world, it is dealing with real people. I am looking for a certain approach to art and writing that I cannot describe at the moment without feeling clumsy and defensive. I want PEEP! to be challenging. I want it to be made by artists from across the world and distributed across the world; from the start it was envisaged as a global tool. MTS is very English, very much a part of the zine world. It is rooted there and it should stay there, it has an artistic function that is very domestic.
In many ways the publication is more exciting than the gallery because of the potential reach of the book. I do think of it as a book, which is odd as it does not exist as anything yet. It may yet fall apart if there is not enough interest. People that I think are good are saying that they would like to be involved and for once my cynicism is on the quiet. I am grabbing their enthusiasm and using it to keep me interested. I am not being bitter. I am trying.
Back to the proposal…an interest in the proliferation of artists and internet based spaces. Too many artists and too much of a desperate need to be noticed on a forum that should be a brilliantly creative space but is often disappointing. I get bored of seeing crap jpegs of tepid work, all wrapped around a net based way of making a purchase. I don’t think the internet should be about commerce. I think it should be a life enhancing experience, very visual, very inclusive. There is a place, a big place for facts, figures and information. Materialism, products and all that shite has crippled it. I don’t care about shopping online. I appreciate that some people like it, fine. Perhaps it has a place. Perhaps my problem is with the lack of imagination of artists. The majority of artist dedicated web space is dull. Reams of monotonous prose. Grabbing, needy.
If I am bothered at all by this there are two solutions for PEEP! Either lead the way in terms of web design and theory, that is, back up the vitriol. The other alternative is to ignore the web. Create a phenomenon that has no web presence. I don’t know if that is realistic.
I want to make more films, an unexpected development from the forum presentation. Sketches, I suppose more than anything else. Short little things. I’m not sure where they fit in with the rest of my practice; drawings that move. Written ideas that are animated.
I have put out a call for contributors to a new publication. I decided last night, almost on a whim, that there should be a paper version of PEEP! One of the visitors at the weekend was wondering if MTS had an editorial policy that encouraged others to participate and we don’t. It is because we have a particular vision for MTS that we can barely explain to each other, but we know what it is instinctively. To try and make other people understand that in order to accept work would be difficult. And we work really well together; if it isn’t broken, don’t invite other people to undermine the project in the guise of fixing it. It is a very select club.
I have realised again, for the nine thousandth time that I do need people around me. I really am like a goldfish. I almost get to the point of enlightenment then some fragment of trivia drifts by which distracts me and all previous understanding is lost and I have to start again. So I think I need to work on a zine/book that involves contributions from other people, as well as my own work. I would like international contributions, international distribution and an editorial policy of almost total disorder. I don’t want slick design, corporate approval or rules. Well, there is one; no poetry. I like poetry but I think in a publication such as the one I want to make, it would be too easy to fill it with poetry, most of it bad.
This one we sell. It will be from the house of MTS but less isolated. Any money we make can be used to fund PEEP! and any other art projects. I like the idea, one that I wanted originally for MTS, of absolutely no web presence. No website, mysperm, faecesbook, nothing. Email, yes….it’s not an anti-technology stance. MTS is going to expand when we get the chance; PDF version, updated website and so on.
Adding a jpeg seems to have slowed the page loading time to at least half an hour and it was a pain to resize. I might not add any more pictures, which is a shame as I had mentally got used to the idea. Oh well.