A week of balance and decision making, or not, it’s all about choice

On Wednesday, I had a very interesting discussion with someone I had not met before, all about the choices we make in life. This is because last week I had my head down in a tender for a contract that would be wonderful to do. But the tender was huge, the budget low. And I wasn’t very comfortable about the fee in relation to the workload and the timespan. It didn’t feel right, lacked balance. If it was simply not good enough money, I could let it go. If it was a shorter-term contract, it could work. If it provided more money, or demanded less time, it would be fantastic. And if the tender wouldn’t consume the whole of my weekend trying to answer questions designed for a major supplier contract, I would have happily filled it in, because I would have loved doing the work. It was right up my street, metaphorically, literally, professionally and philosophically.

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Last night I was given a session of Alexander Technique with John Stevenson. It is all about balance of body and mind, emotions and gravity. It was fascinating. We began by the therapist throwing small bean bags my way, like playing ball. The instruction evolved as we went. First, I was asked to stand and catch them, as they were sent towards me. Then some were sent wider, or higher. Sometimes I was told to catch, other times not to catch. Then I was told I could decide what to do myself, not take an either/or direction from him. Added to that was the choice to actively move to catch, or avoid. Each movement was a decision made fast. It was incredibly relaxing to do this and it meant my body was finding its balance without my deliberately doing anything in relation to my posture. Gravity will always out. The rest of the session raised my consciousness about how I hold my body in a constant state of tension, and how it feels to let that go. (John’s website)

This morning I see a relationship between these two conversations. And it’s all about balance. In life, in body and in mind. The job opportunity was approached in a similar way to the balls being sent wildly around me and my trying to catch them, because I believed I should. I wanted to get the contract and would move around and adjust my thinking, or position, to do so. But It didn’t feel right and began to make me feel very stressed. As the tension accelerated I knew that, just like the balls, it doesn’t matter if I decide not to catch anything. If I decide to stand still, relax, breathe, and let them hit the ground, it’s ok.

Had the ball game been a competition, like the job application, I would have worked much harder, as I did with the tender. Because there would be a reward dangling, a contract. The ball game didn’t matter to anyone else – the aim was about making me feel stable physically and emotionally. I gave nothing, and had nothing to lose.

Muscle memory in the body is not always a good thing, especially if we have developed bad habits. The brain is a muscle, use it wisely.

I’m really glad I didn’t chase something that would make me anxious. Instead I spent the weekend seeing friends, walking in the wonderful forest on a sunny autumn day. There will be other beanbags, other opportunities. I’ve learned a lesson this week. Thank you to both partners in conversation, even though you may not have intended to have this impact on me.

And thanks to my friends that celebrated my release last weekend!

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working in the arts & living in the Forest of Dean

It’s not an impossible thing to do! It’s not always easy, it’s a long drive to most places and feels even longer coming home. Because wherever I go I yearn to be back by the Severn and away from the traffic and noise of the cities.

I NEED culture, not just want. So am very glad I work in the arts, because I am constantly saturated by culture and nature, the ideal combination for me, not for everyone I know. Having long done battle with the “I really ought to live in the city” mind-game, I now feel fairly settled. The fact that I have returned to drawing is a good indicator of that. Coming from a conceptual intellectual background where every work must be loaded with meaning, at the moment, drawing is enough for me. I hope to have time and space to return to more digital outputs,but it’s certainly good for me now.

And so is the Creative Canopy initiative in the Forest. This weekend we launch, see my previous blogpost for details on that. And the local open studios group is reinventing itself as farOpen (Forest and Rivers Open), and will also set up other ‘open’ projects in the future – farOpen writing; farOpen events; farOpen exhibitions; farOpen food……it is so brilliant to see the Forest ‘open’ to new ideas!

So here is todays drawing, you can see the rest on http://www.hybrideyes.com

Have a lovely weekend and I hope you make it to Bream to see and join in with a wide range of tasters, showcasing the creativity that is already here in the community. And talk to us, tell us what else you’d like to see here too.

For now, I’m staying!

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Story of Objects update – film collage & callout

The Story of Objects represents a return to practice, not in making objects, but in discussing them. SOO has evolved both from my work as a visual arts producer and my thinking as an artist, accompanied by a deep interest in how we engage with art.

I am intrigued by how visitors encounter art in non-gallery locations so have mostly worked in the public realm. How we talk to people about art both inside and outside galleries is imperative to our understanding of it. Yet ask someone to talk about something they keep and love they will talk endlessly, and very coherently, about it.

I became fascinated in how the term ‘curate’ is so loosely used these days – we curate essays, poems, websites, plants. And many TV programmes tell us how to display our objects in our homes – how to ‘curate’ things. So I started asking people about their objects in their homes, why are they grouped like that? Where did they get them from? What did these things mean to them? Most importantly, why do they keep it?

I found myself deeply absorbed in material culture – Daniel Miller’s books allowed me to step into another discipline, as did conversations with contemporary archaeologists. The idea for the Story of Objects began to take shape. I’ve talked to lots of people, from several disciplines:

  • Contemporary archaeologists
  • Museum specialist
  • Curators
  • Artists
  • Health providers
  • Members of the public
  • Producers – for arts and radio
  • Digital providers and app developers
  • Academics

Most recently I have hosted a number of trans-faculty conversations at De Montfort University, and thank them for their support and input.

Two years later I am still developing my thinking. I’ve collated a number of 30-second films together, which you can see below and on my YouTube Channel. It’s great to see them collated like this and I am now motivated to put out another call for films.

I’m also working towards producing a scattered-site exhibition, commissioning artists who will be invited to stories of the objects that they keep and gain inspiration from. As always, don’t expect to see these artworks in a gallery space, they will be somewhere deemed appropriate for the work and the concept.

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Blackrock 2016 US & THEM

US & THEM is one of the artworks by Patrick Goddard.

Residency artists:
Patrick Goddard
Sally O’Reilly
Alison Turnbull

In the newly converted gallery at Lydney Park Estate, Matt’s Gallery + BLACKROCK is also showing the work of Willie Doherty

Last year Blackrock launched at Lydney Park in the Forest of Dean, so this years second offer was something to look forward to. I wrote about it from a personal perspective last year. This year the project feels more consolidating, more like  Harvest Festival, whereby the artists have gathered their thinking from the land and its history and shared it with others on the Estate . More mapped. More grounded in place.

That’s not to say the artworks last year weren’t grounded in place – indeed they were, very much so. That’s the good thing about residencies, the artists have time…..something very important when expecting artists to work in somewhere so far from a city.

As Robin Klassnik, of Matt’s Gallery said “Blackrock is national and international”, and is emphatic that it shouldn’t “pander to the locals”. It doesn’t, but it does bring excellent art to the area to be enjoyed at a local level for those that are interested, as I am.

And this year I have time to assimilate, to think and reflect, to consider what these artworks are collectively sharing with the viewers. And what they say about both Blackrock and the wider world.

Thankfully, there is another weekend coming up when the artworks can be revisited to inform my thinking. That’s on 24th & 25th September. Look out for information online, Facebook , or visit their website.

The first weekend included a performance by, or written by, Sally O’Reilly, which will not be repeated the second weekend. It was absolutely brilliant and what she refers to in her introduction speaks of the core curatorial concepts that all the artists have investigated and, duly,  responded too. A harvest festival with rich pickings and excellent produce.