Saturday, January 21, 2012

How To Survive

The first exhibition offer of the year came in a couple of weeks ago from Trove, who are taking part in the MAC in Birmingham's allotments project. Charlie has invited an artist (Sophie Bancroft) to design a cabinet, and then has invited 3 artists to exhibit works within the cabinet. Trove have used cabinets a number of times before. The other two artists/groups to be invited to share the cabinet with me are Matt Robinson, who we know as he exhibited at AirSpace Gallery in 2007 with his sick cloud installation and Milk and Two Sugars.

The beginning of 2012 has found me feeling tired and a bit uninspired, and I was thinking to myself maybe I need a break from all this art stuff. The past few years has seen me lead on various projects and events, and at times I have felt more like a project manager, and an administrator than a practising artist. This is common amongst practitioners that work similarly within the public realm: and also I believe, artists that are engaged with group development, who provide opportunities for other artists, can sometimes begin to feel a bit lost in the purpose. I have discussed this with other artists in my network, and they feel the same. So then, how to revive the energy? It seems that independent practice, which provides the opportunity to get immersed in research and making for yourself could be the answer. I thought, maybe all I need is a new project to really get my teeth into. And the next day the exhibition offer came in.

For some time now I have been interested in making kits/packs. Now that I come to think of it, over the years I have always made packs for things: Interrogation saw the artists involved presented with a pack containing costume, i.d. badge, notebooks maps etc. For Hallelujah 2 in Glasgow I sent an artist's activity pack, with instructions - for the artists and public to use during the private view. So, knowing that I want to make a 'How to Explore' pack for the residency in Harlech, I decided that 2012 would become the 'Year of How To.' Where each month I will make a 'How To' Kit. I have been thinking a lot about survival recently - the cuts to the arts have already lead to lots of artists reducing the amount of time on their practice. Some projects I was involved in have already been cancelled or not got the funding needed. So a Survival pack for artists, surviving in the age of austerity, with scruples intact, could be a very pertinent thing.
Therefore, the first kit for 2012, which will go on display in the MAC will be the 'How To Survive' Kit.Each kit box will be the same, and be very plain from the outside, with hand printed text on the box.
Then inside the contents will be objects and equipment which help with whatever the premise might be for that month.Each kit will also contain an instruction manual. Some of the instructions and contents of the how to survive kit are a bit daft, but also there are serious ideas being explored. I am quite pleased with how the kit looks.It will be interesting to see how it is displayed. Now what will February's kit be?