As an artist there are opportunities that arise and which are part of a career path and there are times, during any career, when it is appropriate to seek out such opportunities.
Artist residencies are one such opportunity.
I am an artist/ maker living in West Wales in a small village called Borth.
I have been working as an artist for over 20 years, making work, sometimes selling work, teaching in many different areas of creativity to many sectors of the community. I have been a cleaner, worked in a shop, found work placements for overseas students, run a cafe and performance space, collected moss and pine, organised craft fairs as well as the teaching and I have brought up two children during this time .
I run the risk of sounding as though I want your sympathy, but this is not really my point...empathy might be gratefully received though!
I have spent most of my adult life as an artist feeling guilty for doing what I do, being made to feel by (some) friends, family and wider society that following a creative path is a luxury. As well as this it seems in deciding to be an artist I have decided to be poor. Now I struggle with this as I have to question whether this means I am just no good at what I do, as surely if you are sucessful with that comes financial reward...we live in a capitalist society, them are the rules..No? But, I have over 20 years of experience...in every other field this would count for something, as after all practice is supposed to make perfect.
I live in a very rural area and working as an artist means constantly searching for work; whether it is applying to exhibit, applying for commissions, organising exhibiting opportunities, applying to take part in Craft fairs, for me finding new wholesale customers for my kits and this is separate to making the artwork and all the time this is going on noone is paying me! I used to get much more teaching in local schools but this has dried up as the schools don't have the extra funds anymore...don't get me started on art in education!
I feel like a mug sometimes; as well as struggling with the guilt that not being valued by wider society leaves me with, on a couple of levels really; the more I want to raise my profile as an artist/maker the more I have to apply to take part in Contemporary craft fairs.....these cost money to just apply for, around £25 per application and then if you are selected to take part more money, between £300-£500 just for a stall, and on top of that I have travel costs and accomodation costs. I am lucky enough to have been recognised as a competant enough artist to take part in some of these events and so going back to my wondering whether my work is good enough, I guess this is some confirmation and yet the more exposure I seek the poorer I become. Don't get me wrong, I sell my work and these events provide a great platform but they are expensive. I am asked regularly, as are all artists, whether I would be happy to donate work to raise money for charity...once I was asked to donate work for an auction to raise money to help someone pay for legal fees, to me this seemed so offensive, now I sympathised with the cause but why not cut out the poor artist' middle man' and ask the well paid lawyers to waiver their exorbitant fees? But no, this isn't how it works....
So I guess this leads me to where I am now and to asking you good and lovely people whether you are able to financially help me, to keep on my career path?
Last year I applied twice for funding to the Arts Council of Wales, for help with attending Made by Hand in Cardiff, to make a short film of my work and to create a new website...twice I was unsucessful...not to be downhearted I did go to Made by Hand, I did have a film made and I actually took the time and made a new website myself.
This year felt like a good time for me to take the plunge and apply to take part in a residency....I would like to be accepted on one close to home , and even better a paid one but these require experience and track record.
The Waaw Artist residency is run by a Finnish organisation and takes part in Saint-Louis in Northern Senegal; I applied and was selected to take part for the month of August 2017 alongside 7 other International artists.
I am delighted to be chosen to take part and feel the experience will be hugely beneficial, if a little scary, for me and my work.
You may wonder why you should even consider helping me out here...a trip to Africa after all, a holiday, no?
Well, this is a work thing, I will spend the month researching and making new work which I will then exhibit, before returning to rural Wales and the start of my busy period. More than anything I will have the time to just focus on responding to a new environment and make work, as I mentioned earlier time to do this is eaten up with administration.
I have spent over a month since being invited to take part in the residency writing another funding application, only, again to be unsucessful and as a consequence here I am asking you for help.
I am humble and as a consequence see myself fitting in a rich history of artist and patron relationships, somehow in 2017 this doesn' t seem to have changed.
For me this is a simple stage in professional development from which I hope to progress to a new stage in my career, for you there will be rewards aplenty, I don't expect something for nothing, AND you will be a Patron of the Arts!