I Had A Hand In This

Art is community : Community is art

In the Autumn of 2018, Jo Slater, who owns The Sun pub in Carshalton, approached me after I donated an art work to a charity raffle in the pub, and kindly offered some space for us to make art. Art In The Sun duly began in January of this year. A weekly gathering of curious adventurers, an experiment in experimental art.

Each session features an idea, maybe a theme, an offer of new tools, materials, techniques – just enough structure, and no more. People get to work, talking, sharing ideas, experimenting. I’m on hand if needed, but the process is largely about discovery.

Some weeks a hush falls over the group as the concentration levels rise, some weeks there’s loads of chat and laughter. We’ve been fortunate to have ELTEL perform with us a few times, and we’ve tried numerous techniques out since we started. Mark making, printing, stencil cutting, masking and layering, brushless work, tile painting, collaborative and solo works. The group takes it all on – confident in the emerging process. Plenty of our work ends up in the bin, and that’s OK.

A while back I suggested the idea of an exhibition – a chance to show our work to a wider audience. I recall the idea being received a little hesitantly, so we left it to percolate. Time passes, experiments continue, the idea is remembered again, and here we are, it’s exhibition day.

I’m off to The Sun. My role today is that of curator, and general setter upper. I’m proud of this lovely group of people and everything they have achieved so far, and I hope that today, I do their work justice for them. I have much to do, so I’ll wish you well and leave you with a hint of what is yet to come.

‘I Had A Hand In This’. Mixed media co-created collage, on A1 foam board


Letting go is sometimes harder than we think

It was late morning on Friday May 17th 2019 when the phone rang. The land line…who could it be? The person on the other end introduced themselves as Simon from MetroBank. In a split second my mind flew back to August 2018 and the last call I took from MetroBank, which turned out to be from a fraudster. I hesitated, felt nervous, anxious, and said I’d call back. One returned call and four internal transfers later, I’m talking with Simon again, going through security.

The phone call was to inform me that MetroBank have been reviewing their complex cases of fraud, one of which is mine. A review at executive level has resulted in the banks earlier decision being reversed, meaning the money which had been fraudulently taken from my account is being returned.

The call ended and I sat in shock. The same bank who were initially so sure the fraud was my responsibility, has now had a complete change of mind. Nothing has changed from my perspective, so what’s brought this on? I probably should have asked this while Simon was on the phone, but I didn’t. During the call I felt both present, and oddly distanced from it.

I went downstairs and spoke with Carole and Keira. I dissolved into tears as I told them the news. I felt a real mix of emotions – the feelings of stupidity and anger from the time of the fraud returned, along with some relief that the bank has changed its mind, coupled with a rapidly growing sense of confusion. Why now? 9 months after the fraud took place.

Back in August 2018 after the bank refused to help, I engaged the financial ombudsman. Having had no progress from them since an initial acknowledgement in October 2018, I wasn’t hopeful that their involvement, if it ever came, would have much impact. Maybe I won’t need them any more? Questions.

I thought I’d moved past this situation – reconciled myself to the unlikelihood of a resolution. Clearly I had not, and by the middle of the afternoon I was exhausted – I couldn’t stay awake. I hardly ever sleep during the day but resistance was futile, and I went to bed.

A few days later. I’m relieved to be reunited with the money, not pleased, just relieved. While I realise the bank didn’t take the money, their response, both in the immediate aftermath of the fraud and over time, has been completely inadequate. I’ve been holding the stress much closer, tighter than I realised. Counselling has helped, but it’s taken this shift, this reversal by the bank to unlock something in me. I’m glad about that, and importantly, my energy is flowing much more positively already.

Sometimes it’s harder to let go than we think.

Somebody That I Used To Know

Ideas reignited through reciprocal joy

Last week I came across half a dozen spare Draw For The Bin cards.

I was about to put them in recycling but thought of a better use for them. I let folks in my network know I had the cards, and offered to doodle on them for anyone who wanted one. Six people quickly accepted the offer, and I began to draw, seeking to make each card relevant to the recipient in some way.

The cards duly went in the post, and I’ve had some lovely feedback from the recipients. We all lived happily ever after. The end. Not quite…

I really enjoyed doing this. It wasn’t particularly time consuming, but the whole thing – asking – drawing – sending, and then getting feedback, was a joyful experience. I used to do this kind of thing quite often. When I visited exhibitions, conferences, other gatherings, I’d frequently buy and make small things I could post to people. Some of these things had a use, and some, like these cards, just felt like the right thing to do.

I can’t recall exactly when I drifted out of this habit, but rekindling it last week has reminded me of the joy it brings. As far as this element of my practice goes, I want to be the somebody that I used to know. Watch this space…