1 Where am I ?
I’m 62 , living in Yorkshire , UK and call myself an artist . I do have a huge portfolio (see my ceramics , textiles and 2D pages) but have sold very little of anything and currently have no studio or workshop I can use – this may change in the near future . Here are my favourite pieces in each category :
Because I sell so little I get fed up with pieces , hence the collage and extra embroidery . Luckily perhaps ceramics doesn’t lend itself to that sort of tinkering !
2 What did I want ?
When I first decided I was an artist and could deny it no longer I had just turned 30 (1983) and everything still seemed possible – not just for me but for the world . My artistic preoccupations were about learning as much as possible and then setting up to make & sell from home the kind of non domestic ware I was best at – although I worried that as a potter I wasn’t making very useful things ! None of that worked out too well and became impossible once my son was born . Externally the world changed too , how much I only realised gradually .
Eventually I went to Art School full-time to learn more – including about exhibiting and selling . I got a great deal out of this place (Harrogate College) , doing first a diploma there (2001) and then an MA(2003) at the university which had acquired it . (Although honestly the work I did for the MA was despite not because of the university part ! ) By now I was working with my ideas of religious art in ceramics and textiles and later even taught a class on Islamic Art briefly at another university . I had hoped to carry on teaching within Islamic Studies , rent a proper studio , be more successful at selling and as I told the director of the studio space I applied to , eventually be able to work alongside other religious artists from the Abrahamic faiths in some kind of joint project space(s) . You can tell it was a long time ago , can’t you ?
What went wrong ? Well the teaching dried up quite quickly and with it most contact with the local Muslim community , I didn’t succeed in getting on to the PhD’s I applied to and despite working hard at (free) social media I never sold anything or attracted the attention of anyone who might employ me via the various platforms . The most interesting artists I found this way lived thousands of miles away ! I came to the conclusion that I was the wrong person making the wrong sort of art in the wrong place – and maybe at the wrong time ?
3 What do I want ? More to the point what does God want (of me) ?
I want a different world & to earn my own living . Well the world is much nastier than it was , largely because being bothered by what is wrong is pretty uncool these days and there isn’t the atmosphere of hope any more . And yes I am still a feminist but am not a ‘feminist artist’ since ‘feminist art’ has come to be academically defined as a specific genre which is (postmodernist) theory – led and has very little to do with feminism historically . As to earning my own living I can’t now have complex plans involving training for something else , working at it for years and finally doing art once retired with a pension . It is all too late for that ( oh for my 20s back again !- but I would have surely missed out on everything else ?)
Contemplating this depressing scenario I got a much clearer message ‘ you haven’t made enough pots yet’ . Also mulling over recent attempts to learn new stuff rather than buckle down to studio setting up or at least go back to daily drawing (barre exercises for the visual artist !) I realised that I had been very lucky in my arts education so far and that most of the people who taught me were retired , going blind , dead . Their replacements often seemed to know less than I did – whether they had the time to share their knowledge with students or not . Is this why there is an explosion of artists’ workshops being given all over schools & colleges ? There weren’t any when I was at school . So I thought it was already time for me to try to pass on what I know .
4 How to go about it ?
This is far less clear . I have some money left to me from my mother – and it hasn’t run out yet ! So I will be able to have a studio for ceramics in (preferably) a garage when we move + enough indoor space to do textile work . I should try to exhibit more – ‘get your work out there !’
I would particularly welcome comments on this rather long post . Please !