08 March 2013


the sea is calm,
blue grey and silent.
seals swim
and fronds of seaweed float gently by.
i eat my lunch on a bench
and gaze into never ending space.

the sea is calm,
deep teal and still.
vivid orange buoys are scattered like full stops
beyond tide-stretched rope.
this day is drawing to an end.

07 March 2013

exhibition fears

my art degree was split into two very different stages. i began a fine art degree at a university because there was freedom to work in any media and you didn't have to specialise. but it turned out to be very academic and conceptual course. i completed a year and had to get out. i swapped across to a much more hands on design-based textiles course at the art college across the road for the remaining two years. i didn't enjoy that either. i scraped through my degree and received the piece of paper which confirmed it. and in combination with some other reasons, i gave up art in a very final way, which i thought would be forever.

the fine art course was academic, theoretical, placed more emphasis on written and verbal critique, ideas, concept and analysis than on the work itself. tutors actively discouraged and dismissed drawing and painting as being out-dated, old fashioned and unprogressive. they loved the words "cutting-edge", "innovative" and "london". the textiles course was practical, you got to do and make things but it had to be done in their way, their logical linear order. design work was to begin in the sketch book showing your "inspiration". this involved filling your work space with cuttings and samples and objects - drawing them, changing them, manipulating them, taking them through different processes and media to create a "finished design". the more transparent and coherent this process from written brief to final design, combined with a high quality of work, the more accomplished you were considered. you were deemed safe and consistent as a designer and ready for work in the industry.

what both courses had in common were weekly crits - on your own with the tutors and once a week with the rest of the class. on both courses we were encouraged to hone our analytical skills and told that a personal opinion such as "i like it" wasn't helpful or valid. on the fine art course we were asked 'why, why, why?' we were urged to express and justify our work using long and impenetrable words and phrases of art jargon - the more obscure, elite, esoteric and confusing the better. in fact if you had no practical skills of artistry but were able to 'talk the talk' you could still get a high mark. and on the textiles course we were asked 'why, why, why?' we were banned from saying "nice" or "like" and pushed towards constructive criticism. we were told that "liking" something isn't helpful unless you can say why you like it. but more important was to "help" someone by telling them what you think they could do better, what they've missed out.

so last year, having not exhibited my work since my degree show the thought of my exhibition at the poly felt like a daunting prospect. unlike most galleries where there are staff and distance from the artist and the public, i was going to be there in the gallery with my work on my own for the whole week.

i had geared myself up for criticism. was i strong enough to take it and still continue to do what i loved? i was expecting the big 'why?' why birds? why 100? what's it all about? what does it all mean? i hoped there would be some affirming comments to balance it all but i was anticipating strong criticism and psyching myself up to be equally strong to deal with it.

i work intuitively. i often don't know the 'whys' either at the time or in the future. sometimes years later they become crystal clear, sometimes a misty understanding is partially revealed and sometimes they remain buried never to meet me in this life time. this is fine. this is me, and i don't feel the need to know. if i wanted to know i wouldn't be doing this.

but the surprising reality of the situation at my exhibition was that nobody asked me 'why?'. nobody even criticised my work. the general public, it seems, are not hung up on the 'whys'. no one felt the need to dissect, pull apart and scrutinize at the mercy of my deepest form of self-expression. people took my work at face value. most people liked it, some loved it and some really loved it. and i'm guessing that those who didn't just looked and walked away without me knowing. they didn't feel the need to give feedback - so-called constructive criticism. 

my art is personal and subjective so how can another person's criticism be constructive? they are not me, i am not them. how can they know what is in my heart? it was great to chat and share ideas and make connections. to be honest, most of what i ended up talking to people about had very little to do with what was on the wall in front of them.

so it seems a shame that i felt so much anxiety and fear of something that was never going to happen. and so i strongly question the validity and interrogation of those art school crits. how does that instill confidence and why are art schools preparing students for the world of art critics instead of real people? who cares what an art critic thinks. they are just one person. and why should their opinion matter more than your next door neighbour or granny? 

06 March 2013

washer-driers on the road......

the washer-driers have finally gone. there will be no washing of smalls in my studio, or anything else of a sweaty clothy nature for that matter! i'm sorry if this disappoints. there are a few who've tried to encourage me to keep 'at least one dryer'. but no....... NO! penryn is now bereft of any community washing and drying facilities. but as one door closes, another one opens. there are plenty of empty shops in penryn. an opportunity for someone who fancies a dabble with other folks dirty washing to fulfill a latent laundry ambition hovers unclaimed upon the horizon. but hey - that's not me. not my calling in life. 

i do have a great book i found at a car boot sale called 'the art and practice of laundry work -  for students and teachers' should anyone wish to borrow it? like most of my things it's not exactly contemporary. it doesn't reveal the most modern of practices but i find many of the old ways are often the best. it's nicely illustrated and tells you how to do just about anything laundry-related.

the laundry lovers bible

well done maud!

the premier box mangle - for those who feel the need for a BIG mangle 

how to clean your beaver hat with petrol and flour! but beware if your beaver is dark gray.....

some of you will understand why i had to include this......

just how have i lived for so long without one?!

but what of the washer-driers? well, they have moved on to pastures new and what exciting ones they are. this isn't just a figure of speech. they are bound for a breezy outdoor existence of festival wonder in the fields. while i spend the summer working stationary in their place they will be hitting the road and touring to glastonbury, womad, the green man and the end of the road festival to launder towels for saunas. i'm envious. they will also go from john o'groats to land's end for the cycle race. i'm not sure what they will launder there - maybe more towels. so where festivals are concerned it seems we've swapped lives. last year was my first summer without any festivals. i used to go to lots but now i just go to a couple of local smaller ones and the summer doesn't feel complete without them. but my exhibition was at the end of august and will be the same again this year. with the studio to complete and a huge volume of work to create it's unlikely i'll make it to any. but, just incase, or so friends can go and find them, with the point of a screw i etched a little 'jo' on the back of all five machines! this gives the impression that i felt sorry to see them go, which couldn't have been further from the truth. their new festival existence just amuses me and that out of all the people who could have bought them (they also had nigeria on the cards), it was a guy who used to live in a truck right next to where i used to live in a boat in west yorkshire. so it's all worked out well.

i no longer feel as if i'm trespassing in someone else's launderette, i'm unlikely to discover any more stray knickers, can let go of the amusing but slightly worrying soap opera that's been slowly unfolding (which unfortunately i can't write about here as it'll get me into trouble!) and can begin to see the building as a space at last. and this is incredibly exciting.

nearly washer-drier free.....