Recently life has been very busy and I’ve been getting a bit overwhelmed with trying to sort out my thoughts, my anxieties and most importantly my calendar!! I usually get my following year booked up and planned by December if not before, which is great for ensuring I can be as savvy as possible with my time but when wee bursts of unexpected work come about it can results in somewhat of a headache…and my oh my can I be a worrier!
A lot of the later half of 2017 is still being organised and sussed out so I won’t spill the beans on what I have planned just yet (although I really can’t wait)! In the present however, I have just said goodbye to my solo show ‘Island Connections’ at Bonhoga Gallery which has been welcoming visitors for the past 6weeks. This was my first Shetland-based solo show and I was pretty nervous to put myself out there infront of my local community, friends and family. When exhibiting in the city there seems to be a bit less of the sense of vulnerability than when exhibiting to an audience who, for the most part, know you personally. Despite my worries (told you I was a worrier) the feedback has been so encouraging and positive!
I bid several pieces farewell as they were purchased and went off to live on new happy walls. Selling work is so important to me, not only for the obvious reason of a small influx of money, which I immediately put back into making more artwork, but for the compliment that that person felt so connected to the work I created that they want to permanently welcome it into their life and home. What a wonderful thing.
Amongst other recent freelance work I have been working with Shetland Arts to do some Primary and Secondary School workshops at Bonhoga Gallery. During this time I had the chance to discuss with the kids my practice and art in general. We talked about many things, materials, colours, meaning of work, how I made certain pieces, how long it took me, my works connection to Shetland and other landscapes but the one thing I was really intrigued at was every single group brought up the cost of my work. “Woah thats so expensive”, £500, £375, £1,500. “Why does your art cost so much?”. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to try and get the kids thinking like an artist. I could clearly see some of them looking at me thinking I must regularly sell work for £1,500 and obviously therefor must be minted!! I discussed with them the cost of materials, the attempts to try and record the number of hours you spent on a piece and try to label your time with an hourly rate (something that never usually works for me when I finally remember I should be counting days after I’ve begun). I tried to make them understand that when I go into my studio to work, nobody pays me to do that, I put the question to them – would you go into a job and work all day for free? A resounding “No”. We also talked about research time and investment in self, for example my time in art school or on residencies, as well as the fact that generally I don’t sell work that often because I spent so long making each piece. Most importantly though, I explained gallery commission and how I may only get to take home about half of what they see on the price tag. The get-rich-quick scheme that twinkled in a few of their eyes quickly faded! I went on to reassure them though that artist don’t do it for the money, they do it for the overpowering need to create and to make. Its a calling and result of their personal driving force that means that an artist has to materialise what is in their head or they may just explode!
That brings me nicely to my current state of mind – nets. I have the strongest desire to just keep making fishing nets right now, so that exactly what I’ve been doing.
I have another exhibition coming up…eeek. Recently I won the ‘Painting, Drawing and Sculpture’ category at the Shetland Open Exhibition and as a result will be one of 4 winners exhibiting at Bonhoga Gallery (second exhibition there in the first quarter of 2017 – they must be sick of me!). I am giving into my desires to keep making nets and will see what comes of this for the exhibition which opens late April.
With such little time until then I feel going with my gut instinct is the best way forward…