This blog is going to be a little bit of everything


This blog is going to be a little bit of everything. I’m also going to break my self imposed rule and talk about things that have happened in more than the last week.

Two weeks ago I was sitting around long dining tables in the canteen at Chelsea. It was the last day of the project with TATE and I was watching a group of young people sitting around the lunch table. I saw their faces, smiling, exchanging jokes, eating and nodding affirmations to each other as the conversation batted around the table.

In the studio, artwork was laid out on tables. Strange sculptures and drawings, hybrids of dogs, cats, horses and monkeys, snakes and lions, were fashioned from withies, plaster bandages, fabric and wire.

These young people had started the project quiet, uneasy and unsure of us and each other and this artwork was outcome of the project. Later that day, we would all sit around and discuss their work and later, we would invite our friends, relatives and carers to see it.

But what was sad was that the my favourite outcome was not in that studio – over quite good canteen Spaghetti Bolognese, the best outcome was these young people who were relaxed and sunning themselves in front of each other.

We had this conversation nearly a hundred times during the project. We were urging people to experiment, to move away from fixed ideas at the same time as others were suggesting that they thought about their ‘final work,’ ‘their finished piece.’

This was a tough ask and maybe because it’s so scary to work without borders, we all struggled. I know that mostly everyone that I work with gets very nervous when I suggest that I couldn’t give any parameters for how a piece of work or a period of research might conclude. But when you ignore this possibility you miss the extraordinary. Two weeks later, I’m still very proud of this moment and I’ll remember it long after the sculptures have been forgotten.

Everything else however is up in the air.

My parents recently had their toilet refitted to an energy efficient one with the flush embedded in the cistern top. For the past 30 years, I used this toilet and stood up to pull the chain and now around their house I cannot stop reaching up looking for this before I realise my mistake.

My new flat is one long series of phantom chains. I pull out the familiar shape of two Wellington boots on my key fob and stare at the two new shiny shapes. I come in and open the doors onto the balcony and the window in the kitchen as if I’ve lived here for years and a cross breeze drifts through the unfamiliar hallway.

We’ve also barely unpacked I feel like I’m camping on the edge of my life. And from here my life is very flat. There are a couple of big buildings – Manor House Station, the National Gallery, and sometimes I can see a pink t-shirt and hands holding a folded up jumper or two kids who laugh and scream and move around all the time.

I’m less lazy and more sociable so inevitably I’m spending much more money. Well I am in border territory after all. And I’ve hurt people these past weeks, and felt miserable. And is this strangeness because I haven’t got a sofa yet, or given my change of address so no-one really knows that I live here?

No, it’s because I don’t have an internet connection at home. I was mistaken all this time when I thought that my life revolved around Art. I revel in the quality of my low tech drawings and sculptures from ordinary objects but at heart, my life has a pulse that is measured electronically and it revolves around google, and email and online banking and being able to get a number without having to read a book.

And also because although I complain, I like this flux, the new start and the excitement and the fear of owning my own place.

In some ways it’s strange that in the weeks when my work life has almost become routine, my home life is completely unsettled. I feel slightly adrift and maybe it fits to have my house reflect that. Maybe once I fix this, the rest will fall in place. Either way you’ll probably find me in this internet café same time next week.