Monday, 20 December 2021

End of year reflections 2021

 As another year of the global pandemic comes to an end, with the UK in political turmoil, with a completely incompetent prime minister, and still no sign of any #ExcludedUK financial support, there's a strange mix of hope and underlying despair.

We ended the year with a funeral for Uncle Paul, a final farewell to a well respected chemistry teacher known to many in Peterborough, although we mainly remember him for constantly listening to opera and classical music, and his baritone choral singing will be missed at church services.

It was the first time many family had gathered together since the pandemic and lockdowns, and he had a good send off. I thought of Sophie Calle again.

Last year, I was very grateful for some welfare support that prevented us from dropping off a financial cliff edge into God knows where, but that's been withdrawn with nothing to replace it, certainly not wages.

Of course, the Business Revival Grant has meant I've been able to continue to work, with several other grant applications, despite the ongoing discrimination I face as both a single parent and carer - which arts orgs are still keen to evade any responsibility for. 

I suggest that if you're a funder of arts commissions, opportunities and open calls, and continue to reject applications by single parents or carers, and can't handle the guilt of your discrimination, then please do resign from your job!! 

I'm not responsible for your guilt, you must own it yourself. In the same way that the prime minister bears the responsibility for his poor leadership. 

I don't apply for arts applications as an artist to get rejection after rejection. I only apply to be accepted - every time I apply. So that rejection is completely on the rejector, not me. And I do take it personally, as I'm the one that has to bear the punishment of living on £54 a week instead.

I now invoice for my time taken to apply for these, whether or not they're successful, as that's admin time I could use better otherwise.

My youngest son, who was made destitute in 2019, and whose destitution has caused some of the severe debts that I still can't recover from, has now got a job, so that's a relief. 

I started to gain a few commissions, but still not enough to cover all the bills or clear debts.

My latest application is DYCP for Lost Dreams. I have been asked by musicians if I'm going to make it into a full album. I was only paid £50 to produce the EP, so I am hoping to make it into a performance art piece.

So for next year, I am trying to keep positive, which is hard to do under the current circumstances!

I am hoping that at least one grant application (preferably more than one!) is successful.

I am hoping to sell NFT artwork to earn a living.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

#CarersRightsDay - Artist As Carer - #humanrights

Since I became a carer, I stopped doing any unpaid work as an artist, because I kept being given advice about benefits, and was defined as "unpaid" by carer's charities, despite the Human Right to earn at least NMW for work, preferably the living wage, which is what care workers earn for doing the same work for strangers.

I stopped applying for funding that I knew would be rejected, because it was too hard on my own wellbeing - see Grantium posts. When I ask people how freelance artists can get funding for arts and health projects, I'm told to apply to the Arts Council.

When I apply to the Arts Council, I get rejection emails telling me things such as "there's not enough funding", which translates as "we fund arts orgs, but you may as well starve to death".

In September, I was very pleased to have taken part in a paid online discussion about arts and mental health paid for by the Culture Health & Wellbeing Alliance. Since then, I've had no income as an artist, and my energy company, Bulb have now collapsed and decided to change my direct debit to £271 per month - where this money is coming from, I'd really like to know, because it isn't in my bank account.

Today is #CarersRightsDay, and I'm being paid £54 per week Working Tax Credits.

I need to be paid #wagesnotclaps

I still have debts from 2019 caused by the DWP making my son destitute for ten months, including the Bulb energy debt that no one is helping to clear off.

I've tried:

Step Change, Carers First, Citizen's Advice, NEA, none of whom seemed to help in any way. I need the debt writing off completely. I'm also told it isn't a big enough debt. But the bank seem to think reducing my overdraft is in some way useful... I'm currently relying on that to keep a roof over our heads. It's not a long term solution. I keep being told this, but how am I supposed to resolve it when I'm not being paid enough? Where are my rights?

Last year, during the pandemic, I had help from the welfare team at City Of Lincoln Council to keep it from spiralling out of control. That help has now been withdrawn.

I've tried to focus on the positive Business Revival Grant, in the hope that building from that will encourage more income to manifest, but I've applied for several other funding applications, and I'm still getting rejection emails.

I'm currently waiting for the outcome of a Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust grant for Peace Painting, and a Reinvent application to run some workshops here in Lincoln. I've just applied to Grimsby Creates Fund to run talks and workshops in NE Lincs next year. I need these to be accepted, not rejected!!

I'm not being paid to apply for funding, for the admin time, so not only are these rejections preventing me from working, they are adding further abuse to the existing abuse of carer's charities that are defining us wrongly as "unpaid", and not fighting for #wagesnotclaps.

The Creatively Minded Report Launch showcased similar projects to ones I've been doing, that are getting funded. But when I ask how artists can gain funding to run projects, I'm told to apply for Arts Council funding.

This is a problem. So I have to ask why arts orgs are getting funding, but freelance artists are not. 

This is because they ask for questions, not solutions, and I'm more interested in solutions to problems, not asking constant questions to get no useful answer.

The solution here is for funders to fund freelance artists directly to run or co-produce our own projects. We can still co-produce with NHS partners or others, but the funding comes to artists first, and we can then allocate that funding appropriately, not anyone else.

I came across OutsideIn, who I am hoping to work with to fund and run workshops next year, if by then I'm not completely bankrupt.

So, how has my day gone today?

I submitted an Arts Council DYCP grant application for Lost Dreams.

I checked through the Sainsbury's online shopping to add a few things we need before tomorrow's delivery.

I cancelled a Bulb energy direct debit, as Bulb have gone bust, but they decided to increase my direct debit to @271.28 per month, and I do not have this level of income. No Black Friday deals on energy bills, eh?

My son had an ESA assessment this afternoon, so some time was spent making sure he was up in time for that, and then answering the call and being there while he answered their questions, in case he needed any support, as he can't do these things by himself.

A carer's group meeting with the psychiatrist has been changed, because the psychiatrist can no longer make it. 

I cooked tea for us all, because my son runs out of money in the week before his ESA goes in the bank, as he doesn't have enough income, and has poor financial management. I made sure he had food in his stomach. Food bought from supermarkets, not foodbanks.

Friday, 5 November 2021

Peace Painting research - the Lincolnshire Conchies

I'm trying to find a way to do Peace Painting workshops, and I have three canvases bought for me by my son, which I decided would be best to do three peace paintings for potential exhibition at a commercial gallery, or for funding applications for Peace Painting. 

My son was once an extra in The Young Victoria, and worked with Jim Broadbent, so I have been interested in the Lincolnshire Conchies. I remember there being some information available online, but when I search for it, some of it is unavailable / censored. It's almost as if there are some that want to forget about anyone other than dead British soldiers, which is censoring history, so I think it's very important to make sure that no one is erased from history to suit a military agenda.

I missed out on this Conchies play in 2019, as I was dealing with my son's destitution :-( 

I had made a trip out to Holton-Cum-Beckering during lockdown, but hadn't ventured into the church - but I remember reading that there was info there, so I decided to make a return trip to see if I could find out.
It's a 30 mile round trip by bicycle, and I somehow got a puncture on the way home... more on that later.

Look up inside the church porch, and there's a bird skeleton trapped in some chicken wire. Across the road, there's a dovecote with no doves in it, so for peace painting, I think it's a good idea to replace those doves!

I do not know if these graves belong to any conscientious objectors, and there was no one around to ask!

I do like to see stained glass windows in churches with images of saints and Jesus, not the red arrows, which I have come to refer to as the dead arrows, as flying military aircraft during a global pandemic and a climate crisis is now an obsolete activity.

Much better for airfields, such as the nearby Wickenby airfield, to only be allowed to fly things such as the Air Ambulance.

These Nissen huts on the road past Wickenby airfield look very similar to the ones in photos of the Lincolnshire Conchies, where they set up the origins of the Broadbent Theatre. 

So, I somehow got a puncture on the way home, a few miles from Wickenby. I had no puncture repair kit, so I had to ride home on the flat tyre, because it was faster than walking, and being out in the wilds of Lincolnshire, I needed to get back to the city lights before it got dark.

I have since fixed the inner tube with the remaining kintsugi.
Advice from Halfords was that there is no way of fixing it, so any repair is not going to seal it. 
But I actually like the metaphor, to represent the fragility of the peace process - and all the hot air released by those with military agendas!

This will be part of my ongoing research.

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.