Shut up brain, I’m trying to think. May 2017

I’ve not written anything approaching a blog in a while- there’s been so much going on, that as soon as there’s time and space to sit down and reflect, there’s no space left inside my head to make sense of anything.

I find it useful to blog, in order to keep a track of things, as I run away with myself so easily, and so oddly enough, the times when I am juggling a million things are the best times for me to write.

There’s a few new big things that have happened, and, considering the shitstorm that was 2016, things are certainly looking better and I’m feeling a lot better.

Firstly, I’ve almost completed the 2nd year of my degree. My mental health took a severe beating last year, so the early part of this year was spent taking new medication, seeking help and generally recovering. For the first time, I made a large body of work for my course about my problems with mental health. Like all artists, I spent a lot of time beating myself up about ‘not making anything’, whilst I hid away in my bedroom, watching crap 90's films and wondering how I got to this point in life. Eventually I stopped beating myself up about it, and told myself that creating a safe space for myself, a space where my favourite crap films played on a loop around me, was something I could draw upon creatively- especially since I didn’t have many other outside stimuli to draw upon. Skip to the end, and this is where ‘love letter to the Bechdel test’ came from.

‘love letter to the Bechdel test’ 2017

So, ‘Love letter to the Bechdel test’ is a kind of pillow book inspired by my affection for early 90s teen films, created in bed, whilst recovering from a period of ill mental health.

Here’s some pictures of it in-situ at uni during my assessment. I installed it in a mock-up of my own bed, to give it context, and also as a nod to Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’- a piece I’ve always admired the honesty of. 
Having this piece assessed was pretty nerve-wracking, I have to admit, but I got an excellent response from my tutors about it. They’re still pushing me towards doing more performance-based art, (which apparently a lot of my work already is, albeit in a ‘aftermath’ way) but we’ll see where that goes. I’m certainly veering closer to making things, as opposed to drawing and painting. These past few years I’ve been working through a lot of things, and it’s been interesting what comes out when I physically work through a medium- i.e: photography, weaving, sewing etc.

I’ve very recently begun weaving, of all things. I made a test piece with a working title of ‘always a drag hag, never a drag queen’, weaving together wig hair, my own hair, ribbon, tassels etc…and it’s something I’d like to explore further- the idea of mixing and weaving together a pattern made of multiple items that represent aspects of gender I either associate or disassociate with, is poignant for me, the more my relationship with my gender develops, regresses and evolves over time. Whilst I don’t identify as trans, I find myself somewhat vicariously questioning my own ‘gender troubles’, through my closeness to the trans community. Cis-women are so often expected to stay on the sidelines of drag: I’ve had the word ‘drag hag’ thrown at me, as if that is something a queer woman cannot be.

‘Always a drag hag, never a drag queen…’ Test-weave.

Below are two photographs of myself in drag- I look at both of being costumes. I know they both look like me, but they aren’t me…anyways, it’s all early musings at the moment. I’m not aiming to make a huge statement about what I claim gender to be, or not be…just that I see it as a journey, and something a lot of people have to work out, and art is a really good way to do that.

Gender experiments. 35mm

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be off uni for the summer, and my main task will be putting together a proposal for my dissertation. I posted my last essay, ‘What is Queer Art?’ here if you’d like to read it- it’s likely to work as an introduction to the kind of thing I’ll be writing about for my dissertation. I’ve finally put together a desk situation at home, with plants and crystals and other things that make me feel nice, as I think it’s about time I had a designated place to write!

Home desk.
Social Media Clown: I have a desk! At a job I love! hooray!

On top of my uni work, I’ve also started a new job- one that I actually really enjoy. I’m a part-time social media coordinator for a dance charity. I’ve always loved dance and dancers, and using my learned skills in a creative way to help a charity that supports dancers with health and financial problems could literally not be a better thing for me to be doing right now. I won’t talk about this work too much here, but they’re a great small charity, give them a look: dance professionals fund

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Thirdly, I’m doing a six month placement at Fabrica. I’ve been a casual volunteer there for just over a year, and I can honestly say it’s one of the nicest places I’ve been involved with. I wasn’t sure about going for their official student placement- purely as working one unpaid day a week whilst studying for 12 months when you are 34, working only part-time and living in a progressively more expensive city felt was something I just logistically couldn’t do. Even though I knew the experience I could gain there would be invaluable.

Photo taken at ‘Draw to Perform.’

Fortunately, Fabrica kindly offered me a shorter, flexible 6 month placement, doing more of the audience development side of things. So for the past month or so, I’ve begun helping out there, and have already learned a lot in quite a short space of time. My specific interest there is developing the galleries’ LGBTQ audience, in line with my current work at uni.

Looking forward to more projects and work there!

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