Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Cyfaredd 4: A Primer for Being an Artist-in-Residence

Helo Pawb (Hi Everyone)

As some of you may know from recent Facebook traffic on the Stiwdio Maelor page, a group of volunteers has been cleaning up the mess left behind by an artist-in-residence. So, in response to this situation I offer the following tongue-in-check list of rules for those wishing to be a part of a communal artist residency:

1.     Do leave the kitchen in a mess after you cook a meal. The other residents, whose art is obviously not as important as yours, have nothing better to do than clean up after you.
2.     Do leave the ring around the bath after you have had one. This will impress the other residents as to how hard you work at your 3D organic art or your volunteer activities elsewhere.
3.     Do take all the rolls of toilet paper in the place to use for your amusement. Given that the shops are miles away, this gives the other residents the chance to exercise their creativity.
4.     Do leave the tap on after you get up in the middle of the night for a glass of water. What a wonderful environmental statement about the amount of water in the world.
5.     Do leave the heater on when you visit friends for a few days. The organiser of the studio loves paying big heating bills. And if the place catches fire, the locals and other residents can enjoy the bonfire and bring their marshmallows and potatoes for a good feed.
6.     Do use the food belonging to other residents. You are more deserving than they are, obviously.
7.     Do have new friends stay overnight in vacant rooms, because the next artist in resident loves sleeping in dirty sheets.
8.     Do borrow without permission tools, iPod speakers and digital projectors from your fellow artists. Their work does not have value, so they can afford to spend time looking for lost possessions.
9.     Do deny any wrongdoing on your part and shift the blame to the other residents, who would love to take the blame because they are so awed by your personality and your art.
10.  To make room for your work, do shift furniture out of your living and studio spaces into communal areas and the private rooms of the organiser. No need to ask for permission. Nothing else matters but the art and the admiration of those who come to see it.
11.  Do arrange an exhibition of your work without asking permission of the studio management. What does it matter that strangers will be wandering through a studio complex that is meant to be a private working and living space?
12.  Do construct an enormous installation, which involves tons of labour by yourself and others you recruited to haul the materials to your studio. Then, to have your art make a real statement to the world, leave the installation for posterity, or till the studio is required by another visiting artist. Don’t worry about the takedown and removal costs in labour and time of the work itself and the materials you didn’t use. Such concerns are trivial matters for a great artist such as you.
An artist's impression of a mess
Many of you have probably experienced similar attitudes in shared houses and can add more examples of selfish behaviour.

On a more serious note, I also offer this list of Twelve Commandments for being a successful professional writer. The list is a modified version of one presented and discussed at a workshop given by the Australian SF writer Sean Williams a number of years ago. For those practitioners in other fields, not necessarily the arts, you can substitute appropriate actions.

1.     Read a lot
2.     Write a lot
3.     Write what you love but be aware of the market
4.     Define your version of success and take concrete steps towards achieving it
5.     Be professional at all stages of your career
6.     Listen to everyone
7.     Be visible
8.     Challenge yourself, always
9.     Never believe you’ve figured it out, because everything changes
10.  Work hard
11.  Develop a community
12.  Sustain self-belief

Until next time.

Pob Hwyl


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