Updated: Mar 25
I haven't written a post in a while, but not because I haven't had anything to say. I've had a huge amount of serious life stuff 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 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 won't go into full details about my wierd ass ailments as I'll be here all day. As tempting as it is to completely edit out the darker bits about my life, I'm not going to do that as it just feels too 'Instragrammy', ya know. I don't think anybody's life is as perfect as it looks on social media. We can't 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? Disabled. Not just one disability, but 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. I'm working with a good friend down in Glastonbury who runs a metal workshop teaching people how to weld and 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 at some point 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.
Another project I'm supporting through Oblique Arts is a podcast about mental health and recovery called 'Mad About....'. It was the idea of my friend Poppy Heartly who wanted to put her experiences of navigating mental health services into something positive that could help other people. 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 are still highly stigmatised. The podcast is about promoting 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 really happy to be supporting it in my new job. Yay.
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. People often talk about how creativity is needed the most in times of struggle or upheaval, but I find it really difficult to get into the creative zone when my housing is up in the air. 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, budgets, 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 sometimes when it comes to admin (must be my corporate background). I guess I have been doing admin work in one way or another for nearly 20 years now. Yes, I am that old.