Studio Update 31st July 2023

I really miss making collages

I don’t know what it was that got me thinking about collages again recently. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I was sharing some old ones I found in a folder in dropbox from a time long ago. I did a little bit of research, sometimes you have to when your memory is a bit spotty, and they were made for a Project in University in 2009.

These are a bit less professionally presented, and a whole lot less skilled than the artist sitting in front of you, but hey; what can I say, I’ve got 14 years on the baby that made these.

I used to make collages a lot while I was in University. They were a way for me to mark the passing of time in a way that always seemed a bit more interesting than keeping a journal, but rest assured I did that too.

There was always a plethora of magazines and newspapers sitting around in my flat, and in Uni. We got subsidised newspapers, and I think at one point, The Guardian was only 20p, so collage seemed to be a good way to make the most of the source images by making things. I’d carefully clip my favourites out of the magazines and keep them until a theme or a situation presented itself that I wanted to document, and bob’s your Uncle we’d have a collage.

I think as well I liked the privacy I thought that the collages provided me. It was kind of a cathartic release in a way. I’d get something off my chest, or document something that had happened in my personal life, by making cool pieces of art and nobody who looked at them would ever really know what was going on with them.

It’s funny thinking back now, in this land of social media, where every thought is fertile land to farm for content, and the line between personal and public is blurred. I’ve been casually thinking about it recently, and it’s almost like we’re all wandering around carrying three lives on our back. The public, the personal but public (normally our social media persona) and then the truly private. The truly private is the things you’d never recover from if anyone found out, your darkest secrets.

None of these collages, or the many others I made, represent any of those truly private moments that I’d rather not share, but they do represent that middle road category of the personal but public. Things that normally would have been the preserve of friends, but captured in paper and exhibited for everyone to see.

I actually went a step further, and found the rest of the project that these specific collages relate to, in a turn of events that I promise was entirely coincidental, but very synchronistic, and the full memory of that project came rushing back. So look forward to me sharing that when I have a little bit more time.

Rishi Sunak hates Artists

As soon as I finish one Studio Update, the first thing I do is open up a blank post and save it as a draft, then over the course of the week any thoughts I have that I think would be helpful to share (few) and things that happen that get my back up and have me sitting on my hands so I don’t start flipping tables (many).

It just goes to show you how absolutely batshit living in the U.K. is that this was a huge news story when I first started this week’s Studio Update and now it seems to be completely nowhere on the news’ radar.

Our Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has launched a policy position that he’s starting a crackdown on University Courses that don’t deliver “value for money”. Now while I’m as excited as the rest of you to have our institutes of higher education assessed in the same way you might weigh up someone’s Tesco Meal Deals choices, it didn’t take long for internal alarm bells to start ringing and for the potentially intended victims of the policy to become clear. The Arts.

F ur art school – Josh Moir 2023

Now Mr. Sunak has a difficult relationship with any form of creative expression. Remember when he was trying to get us all to retrain in cyber? Funny times. I remain convinced that the only reason he was so desperate to launch a cyber retraining wave was because the Mad Scientist who had originally wired his brain has sadly passed away (let’s be real, it was probably austerity that killed him) and Rishi was desperate for a bit of defragging.

I imagine that Rishi Sunak has the same reaction to a spreadsheet with perfectly balanced pivot tables that most people have listening to their favourite song. He’s like the architect in the Matrix, desperate to sap any joy from the country to make us more happy little wage slaves, and artists are the one remainder in the system he just can’t square away, what with our sustainability ethos and our insistence that people are paid fairly (Not All Artists btw, I’m well aware there are howlers out there)

There is one thing that I didn’t understand about this proposal however, and please remember I’m specifically thinking about this through an Arts Industries lens, and that was the class split in people who decide to do Creative Degrees at University.

The more I thought about it however, the more sense it made. The Conservatives aren’t proposing scrapping a lot of these courses, just limiting the number of people who can sign up for them. Their rich cronies who need an art course for their awkward youngest child with the bleached hair, facial piercings and unconventional dress sense will still get in, and get one of the better paying industry jobs as a result.

The one thing I remain convinced about however is the industries resilience in the face of adversity. I was reading the latest Growth Sector Briefing for the Creative Industries by the Scottish Government (it was research for Uni, believe me it was not for fun) and it paints a more difficult picture than previous years. I’m not an economist, so I’d be hesitant to wade into the argument with what I think may be causing the difficulties in the sector, but I’d be willing to say that Brexit, the cossy lives and the slashing of funding budgets have a lot to do with it, but regardless of that Artists will always find a way to create.

Now that you’ve mentioned Uni; how is it going?

Well enough that I’m having huge guilt issues writing this newsletter when I have an essay that still isn’t technically finished. It’s not that big a deal, I’ve only got 130 words left until I am finished, but I’m really struggling with them.

I think the problem comes down to the fact that it’s a Reflective essay, and I’ve never felt very comfortable with that specific type of writing. Set me up with a critical evaluation and I’ll give you a flawlessly reasoned piece that explores as much nuance about the topic as you need, but ask me to reflect? I’d really rather not.

I know I’m hugely overthinking it, and that it’s really not as deep as I’m trying to make it, but I just really don’t want to fail.

But as soon as that’s finished, I’ve got a short video to produce (which I’m looking forward to, I’m not going to lie) and once I’ve got my marks back I’ll share it here.

Just briefly before I go…

I started a new portrait commission this week too. I’ll share more about the story behind it next week, but I’ll leave you with this little snap I took of the underpainting for it on the easel in the studio, and if you know who it is, no you don’t, and remember discretion is the best part of valour.

What I’m reading

So with all the non-fiction I’ve been reading recently, I decided that I needed a bit of a break, so I started reading a bit of fiction about a gay magician and his athletic not-boyfriend. I might be reverting to form slightly with that, but after reading about big business ideas, and how to apply them, it’s been a bit nice to just pull my book out before I go to bed and read a bit about some gays trying to solve some mysteries.

The book in question is A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske, and I have to say, I’m enjoying it a fair bit. I’m probably about half way through, and apart from a particularly spicy scene that caught me off guard when I was on the bus on the way home from the day job, I’ve had a good time reading it. Marske has an uncanny ability to verbalise the feeling of being an outsider. I’d definitely recommend it if Magicians investigating a potentially grand conspiracy while trying to keep the secret of magic from the general population.

What I’m listening to

When I was in the studio on Friday, Craig Charles on BBC Radio 6 had a programme on focused on 90s music, and he played this song by Electronic, and I have listened to it, almost on repeat since Friday.

Question of the week

In keeping with the theme of magicians, this week’s question of the week is within the realm of magic and super powers.

If you could have any magic power, what would it be and why?

I cant wait to hear about your powers in the comments, so feel free to comment and let me know 🙂

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