I’m rather enjoying the freedom of my art-life at the moment. I have no targets, no deadlines, and apart from the wrapped twigs tangent, I have no work that “needs” to be done. I am revelling in being able to just respond to what comes along.
One of these things is I have signed up for a songwriting residential course, led by one of my favourite singer-songwriters Kathryn Williams. I have been a fan for many years. Her writing comes definitely from the feminine. It is insightful, imaginative, full of texture and emotion. The Small Elena sat on my shoulder is interested in the fact that I now feel confident to do this. I think it is precisely because it is Kathryn that I do feel able to sign up with a level of confidence. I have a fair few songs under my belt now, and I am no longer hugely apologetic about not being able to play a proper instrument. I can make noises either with the technology or with my voice, so that will do to start with. I am also looking forward to being alone, for a week, immersed in this task, with no responsibilities for housework or catering. I will not be able to escape or excuse myself. I have a load of stuff that I can take with me, and I look forward to learning from someone I admire and respect.
The other thing I am doing away from my studio is I am taking part in a project called Radio Public, led by my friends Helen Garbett and Bill Laybourne. When they asked if I was interested, I just said yes because I like talking to them. So spending time with them, working towards something, sounded like a fun way to spend my time. I don’t really do social art or community driven things any more, so it will be good to dip a toe again after many years. I was cautious about working collaboratively though, as in recent years I have not had good experiences, and the fingers still feel a little burned by them, and I still smart a little. Collaboration can be amazing or it can be awful. My collaborative experiences with musicians have been terrific. Those with artists not so good. The difference with Bill and Helen though is that they are very experienced. They know what they are doing. They have ground rules, expectations, boundaries, and also, they have an open and accepting attitude to whatever their collaborators bring, and enjoy the emergence of the unexpected. I do not feel that I will either be steered where I don’t want to go, or indeed taken advantage of. Both of these things have happened before. Dangerous, as I can be a bit of a pleaser… then become resentful of my time being taken, and control over my work being usurped.
Anyway… I’m older and wiser now, and pick my projects carefully. Radio Public has the potential to make a difference, maybe a small difference, maybe bigger… but it’s better than doing nothing. I am becoming more openly political in my work and this I think is another manifestation of that development.