Saturday, December 3, 2011

aagad! a discovery...


what a mad month November was!

If this is the first time you've landed here - let me bring you up to speed

Over the last month I tried something totally different

On the first day of November I commenced a funny, offhand activity/experiment

To make one art gesture each day for the month of November.  You see, I have had a really BigYear where I've found myself weighed down by Big Important events and activities and expectations and commitments and thinking and doing....

The final combination of attending Impact7 (which consolidated a year's worth of disgruntled arty angst) followed by a month trying to write the 'process' chapter of my HDR exegesis nearly swamped me completely (at one point I declared to my long suffering Farmer Phil - 'as soon as I'm done with this degree I'm never going near art ever EVER again!')


Day by day I felt myself growing smaller and smaller - squashed under a weight of worries and seemingly unsolvable conundrums... (yet strangely 'on paper' I've had a Very Good Year - grants, arts residency, prizes, tiny bits of art glory dust all around...)

but so called 'success' hasn't equaled inner arty happiness nor has it tempered the lingering questions-:

* How can anyone realistically expect to have An Art Career in the Country?**
* What should we artists do about copyright?** 
* Are labour and traditional craft skills valued in contemporary art? Should they be?  Does it matter that when craft is highlighted in art or the media, it's often the woefully unskilled stuff? **
* What is the environmental impact of my arts practice? Does it make sense to make more STUFF? (hasn't the world got enough already?) How can I reconcile my concern for sustainability with the reality of making?**
* How should I deal with the unholy alliance of creativity and marketeering?**
* Is art just a pawn in the chess game of corporate greed?**
* Why bother with art anyway...**


those things can REALLY weigh you down  

then one moment under the Cuttagee bridge a thought was hatched

bugger all this deep thinking and high-fallutin' artiness! I need to do something FUN!... and that's where 'an art gesture a day' was spontaneously born: quick, spontaneous, off-hand, FUN things (not labour-intensive, time consuming, heavy duty Important Art)... no preconceived ideas, no delusions of granduer, no mountains of theory, no pressure, no dramas.... just FUN FUN FUN

suddenly, freed from the onerous demands of making Very Important Art - I made stuff that made me feel GOOD.... (and unexpectedly I suddenly found clarity in many of my mulling worries... and weirdly I think I made the occasional quite nice bit of artiness.... hmmmmm)

As each day passed and each art moment was had, I grew lighter and happier... by the end of the first week I was floating, by the second week I was soaring waaaaay above my worries...

I wasn't the only one to benefit - EJ really got into the spirit of things, often mimicking my actions (ahhhhhhh a little ephemeral anarchist arteest in the making)

whodda thunk that a small and simple creative action each day could cause a dramatic internal shift? (not me!)

I know that far more profound writers and thinkers have said all the good things about the nature and meaning of art as experience (mmm Dewey, mmmmm Shusterman, mmmmm Sartwell....) but working on a simple something everyday helped me internalise all the good stuff:

Art is not 'out there', it's with you, in you, around you. Art can be found everywhere, all the time. Art should not be about ego and is not the exclusive domain of the 'genius'. Art can be how something is done- including simple everyday matters like making a meal, mending a shirt. Art doesn't require special equipment and a designated space.  Art doesn't have to be BIG or expensive or even be for sale in order to have value. Art truly can be in the process, in the making, not just the end product (ahhhhhh now THAT'S a line for my process chapter!)

and now?

welllllll - I've got that high fallutin' higher degree to complete - but I'm feeling really quite refreshed now and rather happy with some decisions I've made.

AND I'm also going to keep on making a little unimportant 'gesture' each week

and we'll see what comes of it eh? (ps thanks all for the sweet notes of support - I really appreciated everyone taking the time to drop by for my funny little adventures over this past month... if you have been 'doing something' in this vein - feel free to add a link in the comments.... it feels nice eh?)

** I will be posting my thoughts about these and other meaty arty issues in the fullness of time....  
so stay tuned and be prepared for a few controversial bits



  1. thanks for sharing; it has been great to witness! and those are very good questions. not that i have answers (at least not ones that should be shared publicly. ha!).

  2. Spontaneous applause!!!Hoorah!! Very well said Ronnie, I do love it when you speak about the 'hard' topics, and so am looking forward to some robust discussion on the questions you listed.
    It's great to read of the transformation you experienced during your month of daily arty activities, well done. And yes art is not out there or anywhere designated specifically, it is in our lives everyday. I was just thinking this week after finding myself pondering the 'strategy' of art career, that I much prefer my art to be about life than my life to be only about art.
    I seperate art practice and art industry, and then don't think too deeply about the later, tends to fry my brain if when I do...and doesn't help the art practice.
    So anyway, great to hear of your new found lightness, I hope you continue enjoying it into the New year.

  3. thanks aimee (so lovely to hear from you!) and nicola - what can I say?..... I'm with you all the way when you suggest art practice and art industry really need to be housed in separate buildings! (and funny you should talk about art industry - as I'm presently fiddling with a post or three on that right now! I think I'll have to quote you from this comment!)

    right now I must weed the garden (weeding also happens to be my best thinking time...)

  4. good questions, ronnie, and i think, since i checked back to see if there was more discussion here, that my other comment went astray in the ethers. of course i'd like to think it was erudite and brilliant, but anyway, i liked your post!!!

  5. Well done Ronnie! Glad you made it. I look forward to seeing your contentious commentary in due course! Sara x

  6. Hi Ronnie - it's incredibly freeing to re-connect with the magic and wonder of creating. Simple gestures renew the spirit and remove much angst. I look forward to hearing the more robust bits - we need to challenge and think about the industry we participate in and how we want to participate (or boycott as the case may be). I think my small art world is probably sheltered from much of your BIG art world stuff so I will be interested to hear your side of it. Continue to enjoy weeding...F


thanks for all your lovely comments - your words are greatly appreciated xx