Not exactly the catchy title Wix suggests but a descriptive one nonetheless as this post purely catches up with what I've been up to .... nothing more, nothing less.
Firstly, as can be seen the website has between re-designed and tweaked to create something hopefully more elegant and befitting the regeneration of my work almost literally as so much of it is as a result of growing mushroom kits in my home studio! The re-design was also representing new beginnings as my MA in Fine Arts is now complete with results being nervously awaited - and yep I know exactly how many weeks and days (not quite hours but knowing my mind that will come ....). The MA itself was one of being forward facing and practice-centric meaning the lines between this practice and academic study became heavily blurred: they informed and intertwined bouncing off each other and creating audience facing work that for me sought to create dialogue around our perception of the fungal kingdom if I am to put my work in the most simplest terms. The work itself is now work I stand by and am proud of but it is also unexpected particularly the soft pastels had previously been explored and dismissed. However, when looking for something that I could connect to and convey what I wanted to a series of tests and experiments revealed a medium which I continue to want to develop and take forward refining my skills still further and see what and where it will take me particularly in conjunction with my fungal subjects but also in combination with photography and collage: there is a physicality to their usage that has deepened and perhaps even created an emotional connection to my work that had been missing previously. The collage is perhaps even more of a surprise to me than anyone else as it is a technique I have enjoyed a love-hate relationship with - more of the hate than the love but it now it is something I am starting to embrace and wanting to explore more whether using paper or within the digital realms. How much it will have its place within my artistic work remains to be seen but its testing and experimentation will continue as it also enables the recycling of work deemed unsuitable for further development or pieces I may not want to keep for documentary purposes: sustainability and being ecologically conscious are of great ethical and moral concern to us both ultimately.
However, in terms of how I exhibited the MA resolved pieces worked for, but not exclusively, the final graduating exhibition I decided that they should have its own page creating a separation with and between other refined and equally resolved pieces: a process of considerable discernment required within academic frameworks and an accompanying exhibition proposal. Henceforth, at least for now as they will eventually be incorporated into the main Portfolio: the time is undecided but maybe a week or two after results after I come out from hiding under a mushroom! The combination of the two portfolios will also form the basis for a planned solo exhibition in February 2024 - watch this space for place and dates! I guess that brings to mind the question of what now in terms of academia or artistic development? the simple answer is to enjoy simply being an artist without albeit whilst editing a PhD proposal and preparing the relating application. Firstly, however, my main focus is on sorting out a new routine - one that does not involve weekly meetings or being concerned about exhibition deadlines with the exception of the PhD one itself. Last week as the assessment deadline finally passed and my time with Open College of the Arts (UCA) ended in terms of being an active student, albeit whilst still currently being one, there was a feeling of having left school with so many mixed emotions. I have worked with a phenomenal small cohort with diverse interests and skills within the MA but also a wider group of students during my BA and as part of the OCA community - some of whom have become personal friends and for that I am extremely grateful as with all distant learning study it is not just the tutors who make the difference but the students themselves. However, an MA was not even remotely on my radar when I started my BA - I was 45 and was unsure whether I could do it but here I am now having gone as far as I could with OCA during almost 9 years with them 2834 days from point of enrollment to final assessment date to be precise and it has been one hell of a ride to say the least full of massive highs and immense lows but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. It has changed me as an artist beyond measure but also as a person too particularly as my neurodiversity was finally diagnosed during the first level of the undergraduate course - what difference did a label make? quite simply it made sense of everything enabling me to understand who I was and my quirks of personality and thus impacting upon how I interact with others including the related social anxiety. Henceforth, the changes were also in terms of creative confidence although the impostor syndrome I felt at the start of the MA finally dissipated in the final weeks as I finally found my artistic identity and place in the contemporary art world: despite working as an artist for a number of years nothing had quite seemed to fit meaning my work never quite seemed to have a recognisable voice. I came to realise a deeply researched theoretical understanding was not enough but instead I needed to find my artistic medium and a more defined narrative but to do so I realised I also needed to embrace my neurodiversity incorporating it into my work enabling the deepening of dialogue I wish to create.
Henceforth, as I sit here now, typing this I find myself reflecting on my academic journey but also on my artistic one as I seek to find a new routine that, at least for now, does not revolve around incorporating part-time study into my daily life. Yes the PhD application will happen and its editing will be extensive and intense in the coming days but working on it will be done as I find a new rhythm to daily work life albeit one that potential doctoral study can be fitted into as seamlessly as possible. Weekly planner have been my best friend for some time but perhaps more so now as the study/work balancing act has created a deep desire for order including unexpectedly within my studio itself: a huge clear out has happened with a daily tidy being a necessity - for anyone who has known me long enough 'messy' used to be my middle name but no more!
Finally, I guess the answer is where does the work itself go? this practice will continue to be primarily research-led - I am a natural researcher whether visually or theoretically but the latter will be at the heart of what I do now. I am highly inquisitive by nature but also often a complex and confusing creature and within current body of work I am seeking to capitalise on those qualities to create a dialogue within and between an audience. Henceforth, the finishing of the MA is merely a comma as I am fully aware the research I want to continue to do is far from completed, and hence the aforementioned PhD application. My interest in, and passion for, the fungal kingdom is intensifying although the research is primarily on our human-fungal interactions and how as a species we perceive this organism within speculative futures including that of the post-human and Mycocene but within a neurodiverse artistic space - this is the space which I work in and it is a space which I now seek to embrace. Furthermore, the work is currently situated within the Disrupted Realism movement in which I have found my home .... but that is a subject for a new blog....