I haven't written a post in a while, but not because I haven't had anything to say. I've had a serious amount of 'life shit' going on. It feels very easy to write about my life and work when everything is going well, but not so much when things are a struggle. For me, life isn't always too breezy man. Sometimes it's really fucking harsh and just about hanging on and surviving. Sometimes there is only crying, anxiety, despair, duvets, chocolate, Netflix, more crying and various other odd things that most people don't have to deal with and have never heard of. I will spare you full details, mostly because I can't be bothered to explain my weird ass ailments. I'll be here all day. Although as tempting as it is to completely edit out the 'neg' bits, I'm not going to do that as it just feels too 'Instragrammy', ya know. Nobody's life is as perfect as it looks on social media and we can't just pout our way through life!
So for a start I've been coming to terms with my new status of being a disabled person. Yeah. I know right? Sounds fun doesn't it? Disabled. Not just one disability either. I've got quite a few and some of them are an unexpected addition to what I thought I'd been struggling with all along. It's all a bit fresh and raw right now so I don't feel like sharing huge amounts of detail, but what this means for me is that everything I thought I knew about myself and my life is wrong. Alot of really confusing things from my life now make sense and I now have an awareness of some blind spots and about the things I am unable to do, or find challenging. Hopefully though, I can start to design my life so it works better for me and not get so burnt out all the time. Ultimately this is a good thing, but it's been a really tough time to say the least. I wish there was some kind of prize for me now, for working out what all my problems are. It's taken 12 years of trying to get support so I seriously deserve one.
Despite all this though, I do have an excellent new job with Oblique Arts. I'm being funded by Arts Council England to help artists and community groups in the South West set up creative projects and apply for funding through the charity. I'm working with a good friend down in Glastonbury who runs a metal workshop teaching people how to make burners and have also been living down here for the past few months. Glastonbury is nice but it is basically like being in Hogwarts with so many crystal shops and wizards casually wondering around in Morrisons. I will be coming back to Bristol when my own flat comes through but for now, I've been enjoying living in a lovely cosy cottage which has just been an absolute gift after such a stressful time with housing. I've had the place to myself and I've been able to get the rest I needed after such a traumatic experience with my last housing situation. I thought I was in a good place at the time and that housing instability was no longer my 'Achilles Heel', but actually it still is, and probably always will be.
Another project I'm supporting through Oblique Arts is a podcast about mental health and recovery called 'Mad About....'. Good friend and now colleague, Poppy Heartly, had been talking about setting up a podcast so she can use her experiences of her mental health difficulties for something positive. After spending half a lifetime trying to get the appropriate support and struggling to be heard, both her and co-host Joan Eigen-Grenzraum put their life experiences into this important work so they can be the people they wish they had to listen to 15 years ago. It seems like over the last 10 years or so the conversation around mental health has really opened up, but still it seems the more enduring, lifelong and complex mental health conditions such as Borderline Personality Disorder are still highly stigmatised. The Mad About.. podcast wants to promote understanding with knowledge, humour and connection and invites listeners to be part of the Mad About.. community. Recording of the podcast will start in January with an aim for releasing in February. I'm very honoured to be supporting this project and can't wait to see how it grows.
As for my own arts practice, it's pretty much put on hold for the time being. I haven't spent any time in my studio since September. I do always keep a small sketchbook going though and have been carrying on my weekly art nights with a close friend on zoom. I have to move from this lovely cottage in a month and I think it's essential to have the basics in place before I'm able to really immerse myself in my own creative practice again. People often talk about how creativity is needed the most in times of struggle or upheaval, but not for me I don't think. When I'm in survival mode I only have space in my brain for sorting out the absolute basics like food, shelter and working out how to not die. However I am aware that other people's ideas of what struggle, upheaval and trauma is most likely isn't the same as mine and is most likely experienced differently to me due to my disabilities. Saying that though, I can do spreadsheets, budget planning, writing funding bids or fiddling round with graphics even when things are a bit turbulent for me it seems, so that's a win. I am like a machine when it comes to admin. I guess I have been doing admin work in one way or another for nearly 20 years now. Yes, I am that old.
It seems my life is going to become a bit more nomadic in the new year and I hope to spend a bit more time in my studio and working on projects in Bristol too, so I'll be between both places a fair bit. Oh and it's Christmas. I'm sorry but i genuinely hate it. It's normally pretty triggering for me as it's all so family orientated and this excludes people like me who aren't privileged in this area. I find hearing about other people's family experiences painful, for obvious reasons. It's just one big open wound for me. Although I am very grateful about not having to work in an office anymore, which is like running the gauntlet in the run up the Christmas dodging presumptive questions about when i'm going 'home'. So this year i'm exercising a bit of self care and planning to do a Facebook detox over the Christmas period while I play around with some new sound recording equipment and get geeky all over it.
Merry Christmas peeps. Hope you all have a good one but please don't tell me about your joy for at least 2 weeks. Cheers.