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  • Writer's picturecchennells.artwork

"I Am" and other opportunities.

After my recent Blank Canvas submission I have realised the importance of getting your artwork out in the real world, getting exposure to professional events and taking advantage of a variety of opportunities.

At the beginning of the year I had been quite proactive regarding this and researched a lot of events and opportunities throughout the year that seemed appropriate or of interest to me. with a key hit list of ones that I wanted to have achieved by the end of the year. However, before Christmas I took a real hit to my confidence that has been well documented and discussed in the appropriate studio sketch books, but the knock on effect that has meant that while I was taking time to lick my wounds and get my studio work back on track I missed the deadlines for several of those opportunities. There is a huge lesson here about the struggles and juggling act that is the role of a professional artist - although mentally I needed that time to refocus my work, in a real world situation I would not of been able to take a step back for 3/4 months. There will be creative lulls, confidence lapses, financial strains, all sorts of inconveniences and other set backs - but I need to be able to keep things ticking over and not get overwhelmed. "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" has never seemed more appropriate - had I applied for one of those opportunities during that period and been successful that itself could of completely turned the situation around. In hindsight though my hit list could well have been too ambitious - while it is important for me to set goals and push myself to take more opportunities - I also need to be aware that I do allow myself to get overwhelmed and if I stretch myself too thin - push myself in to many directions I wont benefit from them. For someone like me it would be much more beneficial to focus on 2-3 potential events or competitions that I can make considered and well thought out contributions to rather than try to hit 10-15 different deadlines and not fully apply myself to any of them.

So I have started by submitting a piece to the I Am open student exhibition at Essex University, this seemed like a really good "starter for 10" to encourage me to get my work out there - there was no fee and minimal restrictions on the work you could submit. Seeing my Fabric Hangings in a gallery context has helped me to see past the "student" aspect that I sometimes see within my work. When you are constantly viewing something in a certain environment (i.e. at college in the studio surrounded by other student work) it can influence how you perceive it. I think this has definitely happened to me over the course of the degree and until you change that environment it is hard to shake the feeling that you are producing "student work" rather than "artwork".

When viewed in a situation like this I am struck by the quality of the image on the fabric - how you see something different in it every time you look, the vibrancy of the colours and the polished look to the piece. Seemingly trivial things, like the two canvases to the left of the piece haven't had the edges painted so you can see where the paint has dripped or run - those kind of considerations to me make the difference between a student or home artwork and a professionally presented one.

Now that I have started to put myself out there again in terms of external opportunities and competitions I have revisited the hit list to identify 2 or three key opportunities coming up after I have completed my degree that I want to pursue as a way of maintaining my momentum after education.

I have chosen these 3 for a couple of reasons, first that they are all competitions that I recognise, my previous hit list had found some quite obscure opportunities that although appropriate to me wouldn't of had the same weight to them and secondly because of the deadline, there is one at the end of June, one at the end of August, and then New Contemporaries will be December/January based on last years dates. This gives me to scope to focus and develop each entry fully and will keep me actively working on and considering my practice over the next 6 months.

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