I completed and passed my Fine Art Masters degree at Central St Martins a few weeks ago (though it seems a lifetime ago).
I learnt a lot about my work and myself as an artist in the last few months. For some time I’d been trying to force my Tranny with a Fanny guise (which was originally a concept piece that took on a life of its own and still regard it as human sculpture ala Gilbert and George) with my art practice but it never quite gelled.
Once I admitted that I’m vulnerable (difficult but incredibly cathartic) and human, my work has developed in an area I didn’t think possible.
My current work is delving into my biography and my final video installation was about a tree in Dinedor Wood where I lost my virginity, a humorous piece about a regrettable memory. I’ve spent years forcibly not going down the biography route as so many female artists do (and I didn’t want to be compared to Tracey Emin) but have realised that this is where my artist strengths lie and sod the possible comparisons. I’m only 31 and have a far more varied biography to work with.
I did a Masters to get a toe up my arse. I left my BA in Photography in 2001 and went to Vienna to be an artist (on a mere whim…it seemed a decadent idea at the time).
I needed some discipline in my work but didn’t really get that from St Martinis, an institute so laid back its almost horizontal. College alumni has a large list of successful artists but the teaching is pretty sloppy and seems focused on getting international students paying huge amounts to study there. The final show was really badly curated with hardly any staff around to assist during the putting up of the show. I could go on…
When I’d finished my ND and BA I may have been pissed off with certain members of staff (probably because I spent most of my time stubbornly fighting to be an artist and not a commercial photographer) but I left elated with what I’d achieved during my time there. I leave St Martins feeling disillusioned, disappointed and well…a bit naffed off.
We have been let out into the big wide world with no safety net. What happens next is ultimately down to the individual. They’ll be interested when a graduate wins a big award or is exhibited at some major event so they can boast yes, that’s one of ours. Finishing the course isn’t the high I’d anticipated.
Since completion, I’ve spent the last few weeks doing very little which is unusual as I don’t like being bored and always seem to be doing something.
I’ve wrote an article for Gazelland Magazine (Art Issue, due out in November), popped into London Fashion Week (a gross time when the nicest people turn into self important pricks), saw the Damien Hirst auction at Sotheby’s (more of which in the Gazelland article), watched John Waters live (funny but I wanted more gossip and didn’t really learn anything new), Francis Bacon at the Tate (sublime…almost made me cry), Eurobeat-The Musical (camp Mel Giedroyc is incredibly camp…very silly good fun…Poland were robbed) and loads of other art from the White Cube to the ICA (some great, some utter inane pretentious crap it amazes me how some of it gets commissioned/bought).
I’ve DJed a few times (all went quite well. No matter how empty the dance floor starts, I always get it going by the end. Very stubborn y’see), judged the first heat of London’s Next Top Tranny which was hilarious (Jeannie Dee was my winner and went on to win the final….well done Tranny) and nearly fell over on cake at Scottee’s Birthday do.
Actually that’s quite a lot considering I gave myself time off to do nothing!
So now what? I’m planning a new show which might be a variation on an old one and a few more DJ gigs (something I’ve done on and off for 14 years. I’m not just another wig playing CDs thank you very much. I love music too much to sit at home listening to it on my own). I’ve a few art people to chase and need to start applying for grants and exhibitions.
I might be a bit disillusioned with the MA but need to use the momentum I’ve got to keep creating……while trying to get work in these “not what you know but who” times. But more about that another time…