Making Time for Life and Art

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There are a lot of interesting ideas behind the Woolgather Art Prize. 

Its declared aims are to investigate and explore the artist’s role in society, and to make contemporary art more accessible to society at large. It’s not just about the exhibition currently on in Leeds. There is also an interactive website, and a lovely accompanying publication.

The curating and organising team, Annie, Chris and John, acknowledge the pull and lure of coordinating and curating projects. And recognise the downside of this for practicing artists is the loss of personal time spent curating. In search of insight on how other artist-turn-something-else deal with this, they approached the latter for contributions to the programme, and recieved some rewarding and thought-provoking responses from a wide variety of artist-organisers. It’s an important read for any artist, because who these days is not untempted by associated creative activities, even at the cost of forfeiting personal artistic practice development?

Maybe that’s putting it a bit strongly. Most artists these days don’t work in a vacuum, and find a need to engage with the wider artworld. Most artists recognise the need to examine their art in the wider context of what goes on in wider society, and contemporary art practice. So curating and organising events feeds the creative mind and expands creativity.

But there’s probably a narrow line easily crossed for anyone primarily wishing to create art rather than facilitate the making of art by others. How do you balance engagement with outside, and inward and isolated reflection and making? 

@WoolgatherArt proposed an interesting diversion to all who submitted an artwork for this year’s competition. They set a date (March 23), and invited all who applied to spend that day or at least a part of it doing something they really wanted to do. Something they might not otherwise do. Anything. And document it.

I loved this idea. I set three reminders on my phone so as not to forget on this particular Sunday that instead of frantically rushing to music lesson appointments or collecting from sleepovers, I should do something ridiculously frivolous.

It was a beautiful day. I chose to lie in the middle of the tarmac of a cul-de-sac (with a frisson of nerves that I might go unobserved by a mad driver angrily accelerating down the road when he realised he would have to make a U-turn) and gaze through the canopy of leaves and branches at the sky. I directed Middle Daughter on the documenting of this event, and repeated a few times that parental fallback of old, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”

Indeed.

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