Beyond the MA

Creative life post the MA
I remember completing the MA with our final show at Canwood, a celebration lunch get together at college and then walking out of college, for the last time as a student, feeling a mixture of sadness to be leaving and parting the way with some good friends, and excitement to - finally - be an independent artist. With an MA after my name to boot! Ending and beginning combined. Unfortunately that optimistic euphoria didn't last too long. I had an email from Dan, our head tutor, to tell me that I'd just missed getting a merit. He noted that I'd written less than usual and asked if that was because I found it more difficult to write about film and photography, the disciplines that had constituted my final work. It probably was as I was used to photographing my work in stages as it progressed and documenting that, which is more complicated with film. It was also because another tutor had advised me to write less and to produce more practical work and, like an idiot, I followed his advice literally. There seemed no point in telling Dan this as it was my fault - I should have followed my own methodology and instinct. With hindsight I can see that the way the tutor should have worded it was to advise me to bring my practical work to the level of my written work. That would have been a more positive approach. A lesson learned but a hard one that still has the power to haunt and, especially as I always enjoyed the written work, left a slightly bitter pall over the final MA experience.

For whatever reason I then found myself in the artistic doldrums where I stayed, creatively becalmed, until being asked to contribute work to an exhibition being organised by a friend from the BA. The show, OPEN, will take place at Canwood Gallery from Saturday 28th August until Sunday 5th September. This gave me exactly the kick up the backside that I needed and I set about a major studio sort out, clean, and ruthless reorganise. I hadn't really thought about the studio layout since moving in nearly 6 years ago during which time I'd squeezed in more and more stuff. Much decluttering, thought and the very psychologically important addition of a piece of new vinyl later, it works so much better. Things are properly accessible for the first time; drawers are organised; equipment I don't use gone. I actually know where things are now! Importantly, it also made the psychological break I obviously needed from the MA. It is now like a new space ready for the new post MA me to make new work in and very exciting.

OPEN is a mixture of selling and exhibiting so I decided to show some earlier work, selecting Elements and Connections from my BA Show; Beach Finds, a still life; Corvid Nest from late in the BA; and Leaning Tree from my MA. I had intended to show a new work, Pine in Sunlight, but unfortunately a horrible bout of vertigo following a camper trip delayed work and I wasn't able to finish it in time.

There were passages in both Elements and Connections that I wasn't happy with so I reworked them as well as sanding and waxing the frames, which had continued to rust and were shedding flakes everywhere! Both paintings also had chips on the edges (plaster is infuriatingly fragile), which needed to be filled. I felt in both cases that the works were much improved after the alterations, which was gratifying. David at the Apple Store Gallery framed Corvid Nest and Leaning Tree in a simple charcoal coloured wood frame, and cleaned and revived the frame on Beach Finds. I feel happy with the way they all look even if it is quite a macabre selection. Maybe that's fitting too!

What I feel happiest about, however, is how wonderful it feels to be back in my studio, and my head is now buzzing with ideas for new work. A good place to be and I'm so incredibly thankful to Linn for steering me back onto the path.

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