Autumn: find your Flow – seek new horizons, plot, plan, fundraise – 4 mentoring slots available

As the evenings draw in it’s a good time to start pondering the next steps for your practice. G4A grant applications submitted soon will bear fruit (if successful) in the New Year and motivate you during the short winter days and the long cold nights.

Maybe it’s because the evening light is still hanging on that the funding situation feels a little bit less challenging this year, more hopeful, more glass half-full than half-empty. In the art sector we’ve had a few years of dragging ourselves along with persistence and developing strategies for resilience.

So, how can you do your best to see the light at the end of the tunnel to welcome the New Year in?

Mentoring is a good way to build confidence, earn new skills and get some help in untangling what you think you need from what you think you want.

For two years I have been mentoring artists for many reasons. I have done so before then and also supported artist-led groups through formal schemes. Some artists simply what a critical friend – others want feedback, support and a friendly ear. You may want to make changes in your work, or begin to think about extending studies, or work towards a project that is a little more ambitious than anything you have ever done before.

Professional development when you are freelance may seem like a luxury, but often it’s the best investment you can make. When I support artists to make funding applications, I also help them learn to do it themselves in the future. I can advise on project management, health and safety, partnership building, budget management, websites, writing and blogging and many other things.

If you are experienced at applying for funding, you may decide to apply for a small grant for professional development support, maybe alongside other training needs, or as part of a project that is stretching you a little. If you are not ready yet to do funding applications but need help to develop a project framework and plan possible partners, I can help. Big or small projects – planning is easier when you have someone to plan with.

I enjoy mentoring so have decided to make space in my other work for 4 mentees this coming year. I am busy with delivering projects, writing professionally and planning new project myself. If you think this could be helpful, drop me an email and we can have a (free) 15 minute phone conversation to discuss what you might benefit from having help on.

new horizons new horizons…………

Here are a few bits of feedback from last years mentees, who were a delight to work with:

“In a short time, Carolyn was able to offer some comments and ways to improve my practice”

“Refreshing to have feedback from an informed, outside source: it cuts through everyday practice and ways of seeing”

“Working with Carolyn was a true partnership: complementary skills, hard work and a drive to realise my project in the best way possible.”

the flush of delight when someone I mentor is awarded a grant warms the cockles!

I have to share this news, but confidentiality won’t allow me to say who it is – but well done you!

It’s an absolute privilege to mentor the people I do – they are committed and serious about their practice and work really hard to survive, despite all odds these days…..

I know how it feels to be an artist and face endless applications, constant rejections and still try to keep positive, keep going, believe in what you do. Anyone who thinks artists have it easy has evidently not tried it.

I often wonder why I do what I do, but the truth is, it’s because I care. Simple.

Finding a photo to explain what I do is tricky!

I’ve been looking for a photo to illustrate what I do. Thanks Gill for sending this one over. Taken last year when I led a coach tour with ExLab. We’re at Durlston discussing Zachary Eastwood Blooms work.


at risk of being a groupie for Thinking Practice, great paper on ‘being plural’

There is little I can say about Mark Robinson’s latest blog, “We have come here today to be plural” other than you must read it if you wish to read a balanced and considered reflection upon the impact austerity is having on the arts. He uses some wonderful images as illustrations of how people can work together, let’s call them benchmarks, to whet your appetite.

I hold another image in my mind after reading it – A Sudden Gust of Wind by Jeff Wall.

jeff wall a sudden gust of wind

‘Intercourse’ event (love that title!) – “I’m not sitting at the front” last weekend. It was in the Elbow Room in Cardiff.

I really enjoyed the ‘Intercourse’ event (love that title!) – “I’m not sitting at the front” last weekend. It made me think – a lot.

The focus was participatory visual arts practice and involved great talks by Gill Nicol and Sophie Hope, interspersed with actions created by artists, which, as a member of the audience, I participated in.

I sat at the front.

There was quite a lot of writing going on, writing stories, writing lists, writing postits. And stickers. Stickers were distributed to categorize us, as a means of creating roles that, if one wished, could be subverted. But few did so. We listened quite a lot too. Sometimes I felt I was being instructed and directed, I complied rather than participated. On reflection, I find myself wondering about where the participatory element was.

By my very presence, was it assumed that I would passively do as I was told?

Was the purpose to antagonize?

Or stimulate a response?

Were we expected to intervene?

There were instructions, but in many ways we were all passive and politely conformed to the traditions we are familiar with – that of speaker and listener. The rules were unstated, because we already knew them, the context provided them.

Emma read lists

Paul made lists

I made lists

My lists were in response to their lists

This is a list

When I contemplated writing this, I was going to share my lists with you. But I decided not to. The Flow Contemporary arts logo implies bi-directional movement – exchange, reciprocity, true partnership working. That is important to me. I make no call to action. I seek dialogue, resolution and harmony, not antagonism. Might this be an age thing?

photo of Emma Gee, by me……during our silent walk through Cardiff


Flow likes a challenge, but what does Flow do? who do we work with? where do we do it?

I realised that whilst I’ve been busy having meetings, making plans and thinking forward, I haven’t really shared on my website what I actually DO. Typical, one gets busy doing and forgets to spread the word. And what is my ‘normal’ may not be yours! So here goes, in a nutshell, this is what I/Flow does:

Flow specialises in producing visual arts projects in partnership with major stakeholders, presenting new art in unusual places. Think artworks on beaches, exhibitions in Coastwatch buildings, films in historic stone barns on coastpaths, soundworks emanating from industrial cranes (having a conversation!), performance artists concealed under bridges, casts of quarry walls in forests – anything is possible outside the constraints of the gallery walls.

We work with acoustic specialists, geologists, archaeologists, zoologists, foresters and librarians – opening up visual art to new audiences and innovative ways of perceiving the world around us.

Flow has two key areas of delivery – FCA Projects initiates and delivers scattered-site visual art projects in non-gallery locations with partners, and FCA Advice supports others to do so – either by mentoring artists at ground-level, or by guiding organisations in the processes necessary to develop sound partnerships. Everything Flow does is about collaboration and dialogue and research is at the core of what we do.

We specialise in working with both art and non-art partners to achieve this and can provide a bespoke team to respond to particular requirements of any project. We also have experience of touring, working with strategic partners to tour both existing and newly commissioned contemporary visual artworks. For example, thanks to a grant from Arts Council England, we’re presently in consultation with the Forestry Commission, the National Trust and the Canal & River Trust about a touring programme, which will begin with a  period of action research.

We’re always on the lookout for new partners – current conversations include talking with an ethnozoologist; digital locative media producers; land-management organisations, Community Libraries and a writer whose subject area is technobiophilia. We love a challenge!

last month Free for Feb, this month it’s #internationalwomensday 2 free artist mentor sessions


Last month on Friday 1st February I launched Flow Advice by offering a huge TWELVE half-hour mentoring session to artists. All slots were taken and feedback tells me well received. So thanks to everyone for participating and I hope we talk again soon.

This month, launching on Friday 1st March, I want to do it again (but smaller – that was a big commitment!), but with a focus on mentoring women artists to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March. Maybe it is because my daughter suggested I should do it.  Maybe it was my going through old artworks of mine last week and unearthing a commissioned video from years ago, for which I interviewed Bristol women from many cultural background to identify similarities, has been on my mind. Whatever the reason, I think its a good idea.

When I made that film in 2001 I believe my daughter was about 15 years old. Brilliant to see now that, as a fantastic  woman who has studied human rights, she has adopted feminism into her life  in the same way she has good food and enjoying art. I guess it was just part of everyday life.

So the free sessions for March are to celebrate International Womens Day and will be for women only. There will be only 2 sessions this month, each half an hour, so you need to book in quickly. The same system as last month, please complete the preliminary survey, so I have some understanding of what you do and what you would like to discuss.

And off we go!!!