Thursday, 9 August 2018

Boultham Park Pop Out Festival

A shopping trolley in Boultham Park
Disgustoscope Making Workshops for Boultham Park Pop Out Festival
Sunday 2nd August 2018

Participants will be shown how to make a Disgustocope to take around the park and take interesting photos.
Materials provided.

Friday, 3 August 2018

PIP Application bureaucracy

Last week was my birthday. 
I'm now officially the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything. But according to the arts world, I am irrelevant. Ignored.

The Arts World does not want to know the answer to anything.

I went out for a meal. It had been a busy week doing a non-creative zero hours contract job that doesn't even pay the bills any more, so it was my attempt at some kind of normality.

Wagamamas, not from a food bank.
The Water Clock
The Water Clock on the Brayford Pool is working again, which was rather nice.

Birthday flowers
Self care and wellbeing involves being able to eat well, have some respite, and have a nice home. So I buy food from supermarkets, not grovel at food banks, and I do like some flowers to celebrate my birthday. Sunflowers are most apt.

But once my birthday is over, it's back to fighting austerity.

We shouldn't even be doing this
Here is the hated PIP Application Form that I am loath to fill out.
Therefore, I know I am being forced into slavery.

We have already applied last year and been rejected, so I expect no less.
This is not doing my mental health any good at all.

Last week, I had a voicemail while I was at work - in my non-arts zero hours contract job - to ask if the appointment could be changed. So I rang to say it could, and I cancelled an appointment with the CAB.

I had two appointments, one had been booked with the CAB, and the only available time they had was on Thursday morning, which is during my work hours. 
My son, being the applicant, and suffering from depression, would not be able to get up and go to the CAB office to do this.
When I asked about that, they said I could fill it out on his behalf with his consent.
The welfare team rang back just after I booked this and insisted that they had an appointment available on Monday afternoon. They would send someone to visit.
This seemed like a better option to suit us, so I rang back to say that the change of time was not a problem.

I asked what would happen if his sleep pattern changed again, which it does frequently, and he was not available to fill the form out. I asked if I could get his consent to fill out the form, as with the CAB.
They told me no, he must be present, so I now regret cancelling the appointment with the CAB and I trust neither the CAB nor the welfare team to not screw up the application.

I am obviously not able to do any artwork at the moment, which makes a mockery of my self employment.

I have applied to OPEM for a residency at The Collection for Peace Painting, and I realised that when I applied for the Artist's Flags commission, I made a typo in the email address, so they never got my application.

The bureaucracy of dealing with the welfare team, who are doing everything in their power to obstruct, obtuse and hinder any welfare, is affecting my ability not only to work as an artist, but to apply for work as an artist.

I then have to deal with the bureaucracy of an arts world that refuses to accept my proposals.

I am desperately trying to find a way out of this situation, but at the same time, I'm fighting and losing against the persecution of austerity. Constantly.

You can listen to this Radio Four discussion about what we as Carers have to give up to look after family. c/o Carer's UK.

You can hear how heartbreaking it is for those of us that do not have any other way of supporting family. It's an IMPOSSIBLE decision.
If I knew there was somewhere my son could live, with paid carers to manage his depression, nurses properly qualified to give him the care he needs, like, I don't know, maybe a mental health unit - not an acute ward - he isn't always suicidal - or some form of care home, like the ones dementia patients live in, to make sure their needs are met, but for adults with mental health problems, then that would be all fine and dandy.

The alternative for us was that he could've been homeless, suicidal, or living with an abusive family that constantly told him that we didn't care for him.
So I had NO CHOICE. 
But I'm not being paid as if I were a carer working for the local authority - to do the same job that paid carers do for nothing whilst trying to keep a roof over our heads, and pay bills.
Hats off to the guy that was rich enough to be able to care positively without it impacting his lifestyle too much. But the harsh reality for many is that we have no choice and are forced into poverty, and as negative as that seems, it shouldn't be that way!
To say "You do it out of love" - that's great, but please do go and find me a house to live in where there is no mortgage, no rent, no utility bills, the supermarket shop is free, and all I need is love, because I'd really like to live in this place.
Love needs valuing properly.

And I am not working in the arts for his PIP. The arts world is not having a penny of his hard won ESA. 

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Pointless bureaucracy

After a respite break to relieve stress, I tried to get some advice about giving up a zero hours contract job to focus on my practice and my caring role.
I wasn't given any help or useful advice by the welfare team whatsoever. They just said "You know what do, then".
I don't.
I could give it up, and rely on self employment alone, but with the risk of Universal Credit potentially making us destitute, and the abuse from the arts world of insisting on so much free work, I can't risk that.

I really don't want to reapply for PIP, either, but this seems worth a try.

So this is our experience of PIP applications.

We rang the DWP last week, and answered some questions; I spoke on behalf of my son, but when asked to provide some information, he did that. This probably won't go in our favour, but they won't do anything otherwise, even if he was shut in his room refusing to speak to anyone.

We were told that there is a two week time frame within which to make the application. If we need longer, we can apply for an extension, which is another two weeks, then that's it.
I guess if things take any longer than that, we'd have to make a new application and start again.

I've been advised by various people that they can help with PIP applications.

So firstly, being less trusting of Citizen's Advice, I tried Carer's First.
They have one person that can help, and he is not available within the two week time period.

Secondly, and reluctantly, I rang Citizen's Advice. I have an appointment booked - the closest one they had was a day when I'm working - which is another reason to give up the zero hours contract job - it doesn't matter when I work, it'll be THAT week that someone has the only appointment available that month, so it isn't as if anything useful happens when I'm caring.

It's this level of bureaucracy that is so frustrating.

I have to give up my self employed time for free, I have to deal with people working for free, instead of people paid to give accurate and timely help.

Thursday, 14 June 2018


And still in 2018 women artists are prevented from practising our work due to the large amount of unpaid voluntary and "in-kind" work expected of us.

I should be paid as much as Damien Hirst really.

Not the best pic of Millicent Fawcett's statue

I don't want a medal when Universal Credit forces me into a food bank.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Respite trip to Denmark

As a carer I had a carer's assessment last year, and was awarded some funding for respite breaks to visit family, as none of my family live locally in Lincoln, and due to his anxiety, and the abuse of PIP applications, my son does not travel on trains.
And I'm obviously not getting paid enough as an artist to be able to travel for work.
The respite funding is for breaks from my caring role.
I was invited to visit my cousin, by his wife, who lives in Denmark.
The first time I met her was at Dad's funeral back in 2010.

They now have two lovely children, who I was fortunate enough to meet.

So I don't normally do any creative work whilst on a respite break.
But the respite is for my role as a carer, so I can choose whether to do any sort of creative work or not.
I decided mostly to enjoy the sunny weather in Esbjerg, and spending time with family not distracted by bad advice from the CAB, coercion into filling out more forms that I have absolutely no compulsion to do, or washing up.
But I decided this time to catch some artwork that I would otherwise not have the opportunity or funding to see whilst on my travels.

So firstly, I went to the Southbank Centre to catch Abba: Supertroupers

Next door, at the Hayward gallery, I went to see Adapt To Survive: Notes From The Future I obviously didn't go to see Lee Bul for health and safety reasons!

Bedwyr Williams Tyrrau Mawr is a digital narrative of an imagined future

My evening was spent at the Park Inn by Radisson in which I had a lovely meal - us carers and artists have to eat!! Not in food banks, either.

Chilling out in my hotel, not doing tons of unpaid housework
 I actually missed my flight due to the ridiculous amount of time it takes for the airport shuttle bus to get from the hotel to T5, so whilst waiting to find out if I could get the next flight to Denmark, I decided to finally tick off something on my bucket list, and go and see The Hive at Kew Gardens.

The Crystal Dome
In order to get my flight, I had to run around in here and collect enough gold tokens to win a seat on the 4.00 flight to Billund.

 I must be the only artist to test out a Disgustoscope in The Hive:

The Hive through a Disgustoscope

The Hive through a Disgustoscope

So, after pretending I was Richard O'Brien leading an intrepid group of contestants around the Crystal Maze, I got on the next flight to Billund, and arrived in Denmark!

Velkommen til Danmark!
 In Esbjerg, I went to see Mennesket ved havet

Hvor er kvindens??

Through the binoculars!
 These Danish youths were playing Pokemon: 

These inspire me to want to make the feminist version looking out from Skegness seafront! Four statuesque dolls looking out across the North Sea.

Like a giant Action Man doll...

Hygge with cousins!

The expression on their faces is amusing!
Imagine you're sitting on the toilet on the beach, naked, and some stupid British tourists come and take photos!!

Sunset at Mennesket ved havet

There were many other adventures in Esbjerg and Fano, and plans for another trip for my birthday next year, in which I hope to visit Legoland!

Arriving back at London Heathrow, where this time I stayed at the Radisson Edwardian. To be perfectly honest, I didn't really want to leave!

Radisson Blu Edwardian

Self care for carers

An artist eating breakfast


Back to rainy old Blighty in style

In conclusion, the respite funding only covers the part of the trip in the UK. There needs to be more funding if I am to cover the costs of flights, accommodation, travel, subsistence, and time for doing any sort of creative work in Denmark or elsewhere.
My cousin's wife very kindly provided accommodation, food, travel and hospitality for four days in Denmark - costs that I would normally pay for.
So this is how ARTISTS receive in-kind support - not giving away all our skills and expertise for free for someone on a salary, or paying non-existent money to be able to travel etc.