In phases my development through this course was at first sporadic, now I feel steady progress, though recent events have sought to make me more cautious in how it might progress further.
After delivering my ‘artist talk’ at the symposium in Sheffield, including any post delivery reflection &c I will have one assignment to complete before submitting my final module and the completion of the course as a whole. There were times of course when I wondered whether I would make it, but now, barring catastrophes I feel confident that by the end of this calendar year it will be all over with only the preparation for assessment to be completed.
In and of itself I feel very good about this, the progression the distance travelled. However I am developing a sense of perspective about my achievement(s). Buoyed by encouragement I have entered my work for a couple of festival/exhibition opportunities as well as applied for a residency. I have received confirmation that one of the submissions – to the Brighton Fringe – will be given a ‘projection’ at the pv of the festival, but no further. My correspondence with the residency has left me with scant hope that I will be selected and I always felt that the other application – to Uncertain States annual exhibition was a very long, long shot.
Of course I am unsurprised about these likely outcomes. I didn’t expect to be successful, that is not my nature. But I had allowed myself to be drawn into an optimistic perspective about my work, which was almost certainly above what it deserves. Having recognised this I know beyond all doubt I am now in a ‘place’ very far removed from where I was, perhaps even two years ago, let alone from the outset.
In a few weeks I will learn the results of the work at assessment, these results will determine my next course of action. If I score well I will apply to do an MA starting in September 2017 (acceptance on any course notwithstanding). If the results are in a different direction I am unsure what I will try next, but I will attempt to do something based on the work completed on this course.
Making work and having that work seen are perhaps only coupled in the mind of the artist, I recognize that. Rejection and failure to find spaces to exhibit the work means that dialogues associated with the ideas expressed are left unchallenged. I am torn between the natural and, to some extent in-bred desire, to have my work out there and a reluctance to exert my inner competitive spirit to compete for space, discourse, funds and conversation. This reserve is vested in the psychological structure of the work completed in my major project – so should I dismiss it and carry on regardless? Or would I be subverting the work just to find a light to stand under.
In many ways an escape into study would alleviate that concern, or at least hold it at bay for another year or so. Validation, as an artist, seems so much intertwined with entering into discourse, with someone, anyone. To work ideas forward, to peel back the onion skin yet further. If the marks go against my desire for further study at a higher level, it might provide the stimulus to find ways to engage with communities to explore further.
I am of course very grateful to the Thames Valley Group for their support, guidance, indulgence and fellowship – it would have been a much lonelier road without them.