Updated: Sep 13, 2021
This year has been a bit of a mess.
As a disclaimer, I appreciate that I have pulled through this pandemic (relatively) unscathed. My health and the health of my loved ones has not been nearly as impacted as countless others, for which I’m extremely grateful. My career and my livelihood, however, have been completely and relentlessly bludgeoned for the last year, and I wanted to sit down and map out what's gone wrong,
Despite last year’s constant Covid-related setbacks, it was a really strong year for me, I feel I made a lot of progress professionally and gathered an awful lot of momentum. Of course there were a few cancelled shows, a couple of projects that fell through, a few opportunities that went quiet, but all things considered, I was confident 2021 would make up for lost time.
Things were slowly starting to return to normal, and then in late December things took a massive massive leap forward. Artizan Gallery kindly invited me to be their artist-in-residence, using their basement studio on a permeant arrangement- something I’m eternally grateful for, and just one of the countless things they have done to help me along in this journey.
As you can see from this photo, I think it's fair to say I was struggling for space.
And here I am on the big move-in day, you can only imagine how my tiny flat looked with all of this in it… Moving into this space was a really, really good day.
So 2021 was off to a big start. I decked out the studio, got myself set up, plunged most of what I had into materials, and started planning for a year of tangible progress- full steam ahead.
Then on January 6th, just 10 days later, the UK entered its third lockdown. But this time there was a new problem, and it was a pretty big one. I was no longer working out of my bedroom, and the council-operated service tunnel I use for access to the basement studio was to remain locked throughout. Long story short, for reasons of fire risk/insurance/security jargon, I wasn’t allowed access until the lockdown was lifted.
I wasn't furloughed, I wasn't eligible for government assistance, every grant I applied for was rejected, and every scheme that sounded applicable fell through. Discussing finances isn't trendy, but let's be honest here, I sell paintings for a living. The cost of doing something I love every day is that most months are spent on a knife-edge. That’s fine, I agreed to those terms when I took this plunge. But I didn’t agree to this.
This year is no longer a year about spring-boarding off from 2020’s progress, it’s a year of rebuilding, and I’m sure there’s thousands of people across the UK that are currently in the same position.
But we’re still here, and at the time of writing, we’re back in the studio, and life is good. We’ve been set back a few steps, the pressure has dialled up a few notches, and people tell me my eyelid will stop twitching when the stress/anxiety settles. But we’re back. Historically I’ve always done my best work with my back against the wall, so let's get on with it.
But next time somebody offers you a cooked bat in a street-market, honestly just walk away mate. I’ve not got another one of these in me.