Is this a newsletter, blog post, instagram/facebook/twitter/pinterest update? I don’t even know what to call it and as I’m sitting down finally to write this out, I don’t know where I’m going to publish it. I’ve been wanting (and not wanting) to update you all on what’s happening over here but it’s been so much and not enough all at once and I wasn’t sure how to get started. I’ve been somewhat paralyzed these last 2 months and unable to articulate my thoughts very well and generally feeling a bit lost. I was looking through my photos and when I came across this painting I knew where I needed to start this post/update thing.
This is going to be long so you may want to skip it.
In retrospect, this painting is a symbol of where things started to go really wrong. For two months solid I worked my ass off to complete 2 large paintings for a group show with my gallery in London. I’m really proud of how they came together (under the wire as usual) and I was extremely excited to show them. I was also preparing for an art fair in New York that had me going there first and then going to London directly from there. I knew at the time that it was a bit mad to tackle this all at once but I convinced myself that I needed to step things up if I wanted to make a larger impact with my work this year. I packed a bunch of paintings for shipments to NYC and to London and I think held my breathe the entire time until I knew they had arrived. I packed up even more work and ended up taking it on the plane with me to NYC. Boxes and art everywhere. It was thrilling and terrifying. It was thrilli-fying. Cut to the show in NYC blah blah blah, cut to the end of the show in NYC and I needed to arrange for my big panels to be shipped somewhere. I decided that London was the best place for that because I was going to be there later to collect them eventually.
We arrive in London immediately after the gruelling weekend of art set up, selling and talking jet lagged AF then go to the Hotel where the show was being hung to see it all go up. We drank lovely sparkling water after having a bit of a 007 street crossing experience coming out of Hyde Park to Park Lane. Thrilli-fying again. I’m informed very gently that there is a problem. My work had been dropped during shipping and one painting was damaged badly. I went to survey the damage and my internal dialogue is HOLY SHIT THIS PAINTING IS FUCKED! The panel had cracked down the middle and the frame had been smashed and pulled away from the panel. The courier (I’ll tell you who privately if you ask) took this box and either threw it off a cliff or the box fell out during a high speed chase and the door happened to be open at the time. It doesn’t matter but the shipment was not handled with care and apparently the MANY fragile stickers on the box were more of a suggestion rather than instruction. And no I didn’t have insurance.
There was no way this painting could be repaired and hung for the show. I convinced myself at the time that it could be fixed eventually and that my worst fear was happening and that it really wasn’t that bad. I gave myself a pat on the back that I didn’t have a total melt down right then and there and I kept my shit together. In hindsight I think I was in shock. Fortunately the other box of paintings had arrived intact and very last minute I decided to throw (poor choice of words) another painting into the box just because it fit. That meant that I was pre-emptively prepared for this show anyway with 3 paintings ready to hang. I remained calm though obviously disappointed that this painting would not get to be seen. Given the nature of my work it’s forgiving in its composition and I know that I can fix it and this experience will just be part of the story of the work. Now that I’ve had entirely too much time to reflect on this, I’m mad. Mostly at myself for making a total amateur move and not having my work crated properly by a professional. However, I didn’t have this option available to me for myriad reasons. The biggest being, *I’m a broke artist and simply didn’t have the resources to ensure that I could ship things safely and properly in the first place. I was taking a massive risk with these shows and hoped that it would just all work out. Living in a rural environment made this an even bigger challenge. Do you know how insanely expensive it is to ship artwork internationally and all the hoops you must jump through to allow it to be accepted into a foreign country? IT’S INSANE. I packed up my work with the help of my husband and just made a wish that it get there. I should have been more specific with my wish and said that it get there in one piece! Be specific people. Seriously.
The show is hung beautifully and no one is the wiser for the missing piece. The opening is completely amazing and I’m in awe that I get to show my work here. I’m in London for 10 days staying with awesome new friends and poking around thinking about where we might like to live for our sabbatical. London is a cruel mistress, so many beautiful flats that we could *choke* sort of afford if we didn’t eat food, but the rules for renting a place were hard to untangle, I ran out of time and honestly didn’t have the cash to plop down to secure a place. It would have to be managed from home and worked out from there. We gave our emails to a letting agent and thought everything was in hand as much as it could be.
Came home to madly start packing up the house and move (I won’t bore you with details- I’m still recovering from all the stupid stuff that happened with the move) and then crappy things start happening. Our financial plan to be able to go to London was now off the table and we were scrambling to see how we could still go. We had now sold most of our furniture, put the rest in storage and were living with my mother in law in the wilds of Sooke until we could untangle the mess and get everything sorted. I had my 1 way ticket booked for the end of July and the date was looming and we still didn’t have a plan. This was beyond stressful and I was getting really depressed by the possibility of us not getting to actualize our plan. But we are stubborn folk and we held up hope that it could still come together.
I couldn’t get on the plane. I couldn’t get on the plane and continue to hope it would all work out when I got there. I would have been living in Gatwick and I hear that is frowned upon. We admitted defeat and started working on Plan B.
Plan B was to move to Victoria (the bigger island) and that’s it. That was the extent of our plan. I mentioned stubborn right? I was born here and we have family here, I hated this place when we left it nearly 10 years ago but things have changed and it feels like there is some vital energy here that never was before. The boomers in charge have either retired (or died) and this little city-let feels more progressive, and I feel more positive about this working out. Once we decided to stay here things started falling into place again and I don’t think that was by accident. I’m a firm believer in cosmic juju and I know now that we’re meant to be here, at least for now. London isn’t going anywhere and we’ll continue to commute as needed. Make no mistake I am SUPER SAD, but it’s really ok.
I’ve been coming out of a fog and trying to make sense of my place here and what I might like to do. Of course, make art, but I’m building community and figuring things out. I have a very small studio in the basement of our house and I’ve just painted it and put my floor down. The fog is lifting. I’m thinking about everything that has happened and the big and obvious take away is to listen to your gut. My gut knows what’s up. I didn’t listen to my gut because I thought I was just giving up, letting fear and negativity take over and worse, not being brave. I like to be fearless, or rather be scared of things and do them anyway, and I like to be brave. Moving to London was being fearless and brave. It still will be when the time is right and we’re better prepared. For now we live in a beautiful neighbourhood, I walk my dog down to the beach and I carry lavender scented poop bags in a fancy little biodegradable tube that clips on to her leash. We are yuppie scum!
I’ve opened up a can of worms about my vulnerability and started to write about that but that’s an entirely different post (or whatever this is.) It’s work. It’s not easy. I’m committed to doing it anyway because I believe that my work will only get stronger and then I can take over the world as is the Master Plan. So here I am. A Canadian living in Canada, doesn’t that sound exotic? I’m looking over my year compass and pivoting. I’m applying for shows that I had no intention of applying for, I’m applying for grants and I’m looking for a local gallery partnership while I boost up my website to focus on making my own sales too. I’m thinking about workshops, but right now the only workshop I can think of to teach is how to fail and keep going anyway. Har har.
This beautiful painting Crazy Pavements No. 10 (aptly named, ehem) is in storage in London and I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to fix it but I’m convinced when I do that it will be better than it was and will just have another layer and a thicker skin, just like me.
Fuck me that was cathartic. If you read this whole thing, thank you. Honestly, I feel like I glossed over much of it. ;)
*Edited to add that I may be a broke artist for now but I don’t subscribe to the starving artist model, and I am confident I can make a comfortable living.*