My exhibition ‘GUTS (The Enchanted Forest)’ ended a couple of weeks ago, and after going on a long-awaited break straight after, I’ve returned to the UK refreshed (somewhat!) and looking back at the work from the other side.
I have really valued the complex and fascinating conversations I have had with visitors to the exhibition about health, digital art and our digestive systems…and the feedback has been excellent.
You can watch the main film from the installation here:
(Here’s the link if you can’t see the embedded version.)
Whilst this is likely to be an ongoing project, the end of this residency and exhibition was certainly a moment to pause and consider what may be the next turn for my practice.
For now, here’s some photos of the installation, for those of you who weren’t able to make it in person.
On returning from my break, I stopped by the opening of ‘Meatspace’- an exhibition by Lydia Darnall & Marty Jankus. I met Lydia during my exhibition, and was intruiged to see work on show by these two recent Brighton uni graduates. It was a visceral exploration of the body but unlike ‘GUTS’, this show was a bold display of sexuality. I loved the way the artists hung works on fishing hooks and wires, in keeping with the feel of the space- the Fishing Quarter Gallery on Brighton seafront.
It was so cool to see work like this in Brighton, and I’m excited to see what these artists do next.
In other news, something very interesting happened whilst I was on holiday- I had almost ZERO symptoms of my Colitis. It has been many, many years since I’ve had anything longer than a full week off, and it was almost as if- I dunno- swimming, resting, sitting in the sunshine, spending time with friends, eating well and, crucially, not constantly working, is good for my health. Imagine!
Whilst I did have to do a bit of admin whilst I was away, I made a concerted effort to take a proper break. I work 2 main part-time jobs, and nearly always have a project/event/gig to either organise, prep for and promote, so the 7 days in my week are often a juggling act. Taking a break often means dropping many balls- and often chunks of income with them- so I just never really stop.
This weekend, I had to move house again (another landlord selling up), so my challenge on my return from holiday has been to try and maintain my current stress levels. A big part of having a chronic health condition is learning to accept that you will never just be ‘well’- you’ll just have periods of wellness, and very little control of when these will happen and for how long. It’s easy to say ‘take time for yourself’, but if you need to be working non-stop just to scrape by, you often find yourself weighing up which kind of stress is worse for you.
I read a brilliant essay by Carolyn Lazard, an artist that I’ve just come across and who happens to have Crohn’s Disease (a condition that also affects the digestive system.) The following quote jumped out at me:
“I’m learning to navigate this disease, anticipating flares before they spiral out of control. I try to remain in the present. My next flare may come in six days, six weeks, six months, six years—or never.
This condition of existence requires an openness to the ebb and flow of things, an
understanding that everything changes—for better or worse.”
From ‘How to be a Person in the Age of Autoimmunity’ by Carolyn Lazard - an excellent read.
Whilst away on my break, I finished reading ‘‘Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice’ by Rupa Marya & Raj Patel- the book from which I took the chapter title ‘The Enchanted Forest’, and which really got this project going somewhere I couldn’t have predicted. The main focus of the book- if it is possible to whittle its huge scope down to a simple concept- is how the process of de-colonisation can lead us towards a better future: both our health and our planet.
“It is through communities of care and communities of medicine that we must work to heal this wound that is too great for any one of us to heal alone.”
If you’re interested in reading this book, but- like me- are about to be crushed by the stack of books you have to read, the authors appeared on this podcast which covers a lot of the subjects in the book.
Now the residency is over, and things are opening up again, I’m back to my usual process of part-time working and creative projects. The residency has given me a lot more confidence to apply for more grants, projects and residencies, but in the meantime, with the increase in living costs looming, if you have ever enjoyed my creative work, DJing, please do consider supporting my work via Ko-fi.
My main financial concern at the moment is being able to continue renting my studio space. I’m enormously lucky to have use of a very affordable space near my home, which I share with an excellent artist, Emma Frankland. Nevertheless, as my rent and bills increase, it will become increasingly difficult for me to stretch my regular income to cover a studio space- something many artists here in Brighton simply do not have access to.
What next? Well, our life model collective Artists, Models, iNK have been quite busy bringing life drawing ‘with a twist’ to various events. Models Frankie and Tom posed alongside paintings by Glyn Philpot at Pallant House for a special evening of drawing & performance. Last weekend, Tom and I ran an extra special queer community response drawing salon alongside the opening of ‘Very Private’ at Charleston House, during a Traumfrau party with Marlborough Productions. Attendees were invited to draw and pose for each other throughout the evening, with the works pinned up to create an evolving group portrait of queer JOY.
Whilst I don’t draw much these days, I always love how drawing and being drawn can be such a powerful way to really LOOK at someone or something.
We have another event coming up in Nov at Fabrica Gallery, as part of the next exhibition there ‘At Home in the Water’ by Vanessa Daws. We’re cooking up a very cool collaboration for this next event so do stay in touch!- I recommend signing up here.
I also recommend signing up for Christy Ku’s brilliant Substack, here. Creative opportunities and general advice and brilliance for anyone creative!
Till next time!