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Keeping an artistic practice going through tough times

Updated: Apr 6, 2019

For me, these last two years have been a game changer in many ways. I was stretched, I grew and changed and it hurt. And as a result of it, I feel like a different person, I think I am a different person.

I had my first small solo show. I took part in a residency that consolidated how I worked. I felt the bliss of making and getting into that elusive flow state.

I bought a house with my partner, decorated that house, attended three weddings and moved to a new town. All in two months.

I got a new job working with an amazing bunch of people which is in equal measures rewarding, exciting and exhausting and it’s changing the way I think about the work I do.

And I have gotten more ill than I have ever been.

As well as having some revelations about myself, how I function and the effect that certain things have on my life (which I won’t go into now). My body told me in no uncertain terms to slow down, and niggling health problems that I’ve had over the years turned into a chronic condition that has changed the way I live. Fatigue and pain have meant that I have had to make some serious choices about what I can and can’t do. I’ve started to learn what it might be like for disabled people living in a society that praises the able bodied. Though of course I can only talk from my own experience which is hugely limited compared to others. I’ve struggled with low mood and lack of motivation and learned the importance of Vitamin D and light! And as the summer starts to fade away, I’m slowly coming back to my self.

This year so far has been one of awakening. Learning about injustices I have had the privilege to have never even thought about. Navigating how to share this new found information with the people I care about. Diversifying the media I consume and reading first hand about peoples experiences. Learning about myself, my limits and what my body can and can’t do. Setting boundaries and saying no. Settling into a new home and town, making new friendships and mourning the disintegration of others. Finding courage to speak my mind and share my thoughts. Trying to have humility when I’m (often) wrong. Becoming more respectful of other people’s choices.  Learning how to really listen, and realising that my need to be right is stopping me from growing and understanding. Finding my rhythm, trying to flow with the seasons.

Feeling like I’m simultaneously doing too much and not enough. Like I am not enough.

And amongst all of this I’ve been questioning my practice. What do I do? What use is it? What is the point of making art?! What about the paid work that I do, where can I take that? How can I do more?

All I know is that I need to create. And I need to feel like I am making a difference. And I want to think, and write and create beauty. And I want people to feel loved and understood and valued.

There’s so much that I need to say and explore about myself. How can I work to fix the world when I feel broken?

And how can I continue my practice throughout all of this? How can I use it to move my thinking forward?

Is there a way?

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