Tuesday, 17 August 2021

And Our Heroes Have Misplaced Their Map - research

 I was invited to visit Gloam gallery in Sheffield, which is curated by a group of artists, including Stu Burke, for a private view. 

So I decided to use some respite funds to make a day trip out of Lincoln, to see some other art exhibitions in Sheffield, now that galleries are open again :-)

The first stop was Site Gallery, for coffee, and the Heavy Water Platform 20 exhibition.

Victoria Lucas


The idea here of carefully curating particular film stills from what would ordinarily be moving images, now frozen in the moment, those particular moments, to stop and look at in more detail, and the idea of watching a film in a motel room on location, is really interesting:

Dirk Bell's use of double exposure here mirrors my earlier research into Imagine, and how the Imagine album cover was created:

This piece below, entitled Wallpaper, again appeals to the concept of the simulacrum, as it looks like a vintage landscape photograph, but is a poster on the wall of a cafe, which almost mirrors the lyrics from A-ha's The Blue Sky:

"There are no girls in here
As far as I can see
Only faded posters
Looking down at me
Watching paper cups of coffee
Growing cold before my eyes
All the things I see
That make me realise
I'm in this big world without you
Nothing to my name
Oh, I never knew that
Blue sky meant such pain"

Gloam gallery is a small artist-led gallery and studio space next door to a pub, not far from Bloc Projects. It has some studios where Sheffield based artists work, and exhibitions are supported by Arts Council England.
It is hoped that I may be able to exhibit work there with support and funding, for a solo show of Lost Dreams.
The exhibition was by Flo Main. My favourite of her paintings was this figurative work, which caught my eye, and reminded me of Sarah Lucas

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Imagine if Grantium was fit for purpose! Ha!

Let's imagine that Grantium was fit for purpose, and I applied for DYCP, and they had accepted my proposal like they should.

Here is the fully realised sound art installation concept for Lost Dreams for Latitude Festival.


The tracks would be played on speakers in the woods near to the BBC Introducing Stage.

A mannequin would have electrodes attached to the head, which would be fed into various equipment - in my original concept, it would be via the keytar. 

This would visually represent the sound waves being produced by my own brain waves. 

But Grantium is not fit for purpose.

I once dreamt that there was a branch of the Nobel Peace Centre in Lincoln.

The empty former train station building at St. Marks would be perfect for the Nobel Peace Centre, Lincoln.

Imagine a Nobel Peace Center in Lincoln!
Imagine if Grantium was fit for purpose!

Respite break vs Grantium stonewalling

 Why do I apply to Grantium knowing it's not fit for purpose?

How is it possible for them to reject a proposal for DYCP?

Respite funds appeared in the bank, and I went away for the first proper respite break since lockdown to visit my sister and experience Latitude Festival!

The iconic Latitude sheep, a live art installation by Amy Cadillac titled Woollen Deity.  

Art Installation titled Ray Of Light by Steve Macleod in the woods at Latitude.

There was a large Steampunk Disgustoscope with video images - this was how I'd imagined the Disgustoscope would be if I had funding. But for some weird reason, no one ever wants to fund my work. I wish they did!

Smurf mode activated

Dregs of Zen...

I really wanted to test out my new camera for the first live music event since lockdown, and who better to do that with than Damon Albarn on the Waterfront Stage! 
This is one of my favourite shots of him with the audience:

Damon Albarn live at Latitude Festival

Damon Albarn live at Latitude Festival

Damon Albarn on The Waterfront Stage

If BBC Radio Lincolnshire play Lost Dreams on the radio, it might be broadcast as part of BBC Introducing...

More live art in the woods at Latitude - inspired me for Lost Dreams!

Friday, 16 July 2021

Professional branding for Sanitisation Station and new work.

Part of the Business Revival Grant was for a sanitisation station, so last week, I spent some time designing the bespoke branding for this. The artwork template I was sent originally was wrong, which meant that some additional tinkering meant that now it has added Hall & Oates to remind everyone to continue to safeguard vulnerable people during face to face workshops and events.

This sculptural maquette is entitled The Best Thing. 
The Best Thing is a nod to the phrase "The best thing since sliced bread", as food banks clearly are NOT, despite the toxic positivity that surrounds them. 

Plastic forks, spoons, knives and kintsugi.

The plastic cutlery was donated material just sitting around in my studio, as thoughts have turned to Marcus Rashford and food banks, and my determined avoidance of the indignity of austerity. 

The Best Thing - kintsugi detail

The Nobel Peace Center are currently hosting discussions about #fixthefood food and peace, and as a single parent, my concerns are for other single parents currently struggling through the pandemic and the Free School Meals scandal.

It's so good to have Photoshop back that I've been digitally editing photos taken with my new camera. Here is The Best Thing juxtaposed with a field of white poppies. 

Following earlier research about Imagine, and John And Yoko, my thoughts remained fixed on the way the Imagine album cover was created. The image of clouds is not a photo, as I always assumed, but a painting that John And Yoko had at Tittenhurst.
My lockdown walks have taken me along the Viking Way at the top of South Common, which overlooks the city in a very similar view to that of Ekebergparken in Oslo. So if I want to imagine being back in Oslo, I go up there and imagine The Best Thing is on display amongst the Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas sculptures.

I have recreated the double exposure style of the Imagine album cover, to place the same view from The Viking Way with my original photo from Ekebergparken.

This sunset image juxtaposes the field of white poppies with a view of Lincoln Cathedral from South Common. 
White poppies are grown in Lincolnshire fields during June to harvest the seedheads for the pharmaceutical industry. 
For the horticultural and botanical out there, it's Papaver Somniferum.
White poppies are obviously symbolic of peace.

Of course, a similar image was sent to The Lincolnite for their Picture Of The Week, but it was grifted from this, not mine. I will forever have my work copied by grifters in Lincoln, who will always claim all the glory for themselves.


Monday, 21 June 2021

Business Revival Grant


Last month, I was awarded a Business Revival Grant from City of Lincoln Council, to replace my iMac (which broke down last year just before my birthday!) some essential software (Creative Cloud), a new camera, and some COVID equipment for future workshops.

I've also more recently received a few small grants to help to clear off some of the debts caused by my son's destitution / austerity back in 2019, and which haven't been helped as a #ExcludedUK artist.

The grants aren't enough to mitigate against the whole amount, but it's better than nothing, and is more helpful for my wellbeing than grifters.

I finally got a DYCP application sent, and am awaiting the outcome.

Fingers crossed this is awarded.

I'm also awaiting the outcome of the Cavendish Arts Science Fellowship, which I applied for for Lost Dreams.

I have been able to apply for these, as well as to replace my non arts work to hopefully become a Creative Mentor with The Mighty Creatives, which would be so much better, as I have a wealth of experience that is transferable from my old job, and it would justify all the years I was forced into it!

I'm having more Kafkaesque nonsense from my Carer's Assessment.

We are being told that if you're experiencing Carer Fatigue / burnout - which tbh is all carers, to have a respite break!

But when I had a small respite break to visit Mum after a year of being unable to, and to spend time with my nieces, I was told that if my sons can cope on their own, I don't have a carer role :-s

So this is why carers won't say they're carers. Because when we do, we're made into liars.

But anyway, I've been out testing my new camera for research for Peace Painting, and this is a positive step towards returning to creative work after being #ExcludedUK and for both #payingartists and #wagesnotclaps

Monday, 15 February 2021

So, social prescribing is a hot topic.

People want to know what works and what doesn't. I'm currently highlighting parts from A Restless Art to identify this. 

My colour code is 

Blue: Positive

Yellow: Negative 

Green: Important / information 

Pink: Relevant information that is applied to my work

Purple: A statement where the opposite is true in my own experience

Here's a list:

What works:

1. Artists determining our own requirements for equipment, materials and time costs, and having the funds to source our own, not having some organisation going "we have materials x, x and x, so we don't have funding for materials."

2. Not having to apply for funding, but when organisations have been successful in applying for funding, approaching me to commission workshops. "Hi, we need a qualified artist to run some workshops, would you be available to run a series of your workshops for us?"

3. Organisations looking at my workshop costs, and thinking "our budget is only £500, we can fund two of them". But I still run two workshops and I am paid properly, so that's fine.

Or "Our budget is higher, and we are regularly funded, so let's pay Helen to run her workshops, because she's an expert in her field", and not getting an amateur to run them for free whilst keeping the extra funding for themselves. (See blog link for an example of grifting, which is a severe problem in Lincoln for artists.)

4. Organisations that specifically choose to fund my workshops to stop Lincoln Art Ninjas from destroying my career.

5. Anyone that provides a free iMac. Thanks to City Of Lincoln Council for the Business Revival Grant 2021, which was used to purchase a new iMac, Creative Cloud software, and a new camera etc.

6. Being paid on time. Being paid enough to not need to rely on welfare or have welfare reduced. 

7. People clapping when I've successfully delivered another awesome art project!

8. Paying money to my own #wagesnotclaps campaign for carers to be properly paid.

9. Respite breaks for artists that are carers - allowing time off away from any caring responsibilities. Preferably also paid!

10. Artist led open calls where the artists are paid to organise and curate, with all contributing artists paid to contribute work, including artists that are carers, and then any PROFITS go to raise funds for other causes.

Some useful advice here:

More recommendations to support artists here: 

What doesn't work:

1. Telling artists there's no money because they've kept Arts Council funding for themselves and refuse to pay actual artists (corruption). Whilst there is a ton of money funding a Margaret Thatcher statue, but I may as well just scream into a void than expect to see a penny of it in my bank account.

2. Non artists applying for funding to deliver arts workshops under the auspices of participatory art, while actual artists starve to death because we are #ExcludedUK from any funding, including Arts Council funding, with insane criteria.

3. People asking why artists don't apply for the pitiful amounts of Arts Council funding that only covers the cost of the application process itself, and receiving rejection emails, which is really bad for wellbeing.

4. People providing arts workshops for carers for free, whilst ignoring the fact that artists don't work for free, and nor do I as a carer either, and thanks, now you have completely undermined my workshops, because now all carers are getting free workshops from amateurs, not a professional artist qualified to run them, who is now starving to death because you're going around telling people that art is great for wellbeing, but this is a LIE if artists are being forced out of our own PROFESSION. See also Lincoln Art Ninjas.

5. Expecting me to use the free library resources because you refuse to pay me enough that I can afford to replace my broken iMac, or expecting me to lower my expectations to fit some lowball fantasy of how you think I should work, not how I think I should work.

6. Expecting me to work for free at all, then offering the indignity of foodbanks because you refuse to pay wages. And then refusing foodbanks because I'm not over 70. Also, workfare - expecting me to work for benefits whilst at risk of destitution.

7. Clapping.

8. Expecting artists to provide charity to others, who do not provide any support to artists in any way. Similarly thinking that you have something to offer that we need, and getting uptight, mardy or abusive when we tell you that is not actually what we need. 

9. Harassing / abusing artist-carers about work whilst away on respite breaks like Gemma Baker from fraudulent and plagiarist WITA (Lincoln - not the actual Women In The Arts).

10. If you're a nature organisation organising competitions asking artists to send work, but do not offer any Exhibition Payment Fee for displaying work, and are offering our work for auction or sale, with proceeds from the sale not covering the artists' own overheads first, but to raise money for some other charity while artists ourselves are left to rot on benefits, and someone feels good because they didn't ask artists relying on The Alternative Arts Council funding to pay entry fees.

Some amateurs get to show their work because they have ADHD, and this is the basis of any "positive" feedback.

I am not in any way involved in the example here, because I would never participate in any project where my whole time was not remunerated, but this article describes the failures of cultural policy where artists are treated so appallingly.

This article explains how economic abuse is rife for single parents, ergo, single parent artists are often stonewalled from the arts completely, as is my xp.

I have since fixed this issue, however, it was too late for this round of funding, so I will have to wait until the next round. I hope nothing else breaks, or any other issues arise in the meantime.

Monday, 11 January 2021

New Year, new research

My son very kindly gave me a copy of Imagine John & Yoko, which has been on my reading list since I went to see Double Fantasy in Liverpool.

The drawings below were by Klaus Voorman, 2004, recalling the time he met John Lennon at a Beatles gig in Hamburg, showed him some artwork, and got to work with him.
It sounded very similar to my own old collabs with A-ha and Apparatjik.
But now it would be impossible for a single parent artist to do this in the era of COVID-19!