Friday, September 02, 2011

Camberwell MA Visual Art Exhibition opens today...

...and my work's a part of it!

Details of the show can be found here:

Camberwell College of Arts 

It opens to the public today and remains open until next Thursday the 8th of September (except for this Sunday, when the college is closed) and you'll find my work in with the MA Illustration area. I'll be invigilating there on Tuesday afternoon and on Thursday and I'll be there for the Private View on Tuesday evening, so you can either come along and catch me there to say hello or you can know how to avoid me if you'd rather.

There's a small shared shop in one of the rooms in the Illustration area that has my comics for sale in it and in my display area there's also a couple of folders with original artwork from The Lengths and some of my watercolour paintings of animals. I'll also bring in some Badger art for the Private view, too.

I'd love to see you there.

It's been a phenomenal two years for me and an incredible journey, shaking off a whole raft of anxieties and fears I'd not even realised I'd still been holding onto about calling myself an artist. When I ran into a beloved old friend who I've not seen for a few years at the weekend, I was actually thrown when one of his questions to me was "...and are you actually now okay about calling yourself an artist?" I'd actually forgotten how much of a pointless panic I'd thrown myself into about all of that in the past.

It's strange to think how afraid I used to feel about the possibility of calling myself an artist, despite my degree and despite my ongoing practice, but it just wasn't the right time to step forward with something that felt so personal that it needed to be protected because it protected me. Foolish, really, because now I realise that the more I let myself just get on with the all of the aspects of identity I was trying to hide away, they protect me even more than ever before.

But let's not dwell on that, before you start to think about just how much my life might intertwine with Eddie's at some points. The simple thing is that even if I've spent the last few weeks getting caught up in the logistics of the show and slightly thrown at how expensive all the large format prints and fliers and business cards have wound up being so close to when I'm moving flat and being sucked into organising invigilation rotas and the like, I need to allow myself the chance to stop and enjoy the fact I'm crossing a milestone here.

This is me, finishing an MA in Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts, after turning up at the interview a couple of years ago having a portfolio of drawings done in felt pen on post-it notes and some hasty scribbles in a sketch book. Finishing an MA with some pretty strong technical drawing skills after getting a D in GCSE art and never getting over the sense that I'd never be able to learn to do figurative or representational drawing. Finishing an MA with the third comic about to go out to shops through a distribution deal after starting the course feeling utterly broken because of the hole torn in my arm, afraid I'd never be able to hold down a job again.

During the past two years I've had some pretty rough times; I found out that I'm epileptic, my relationship broke down, I was made homeless as a result and lost all of my money trying to sort it out; I had to walk out on my job, I've been surviving on disability benefits, I had to call off something with someone I was so in love with that I was starting to lose a sense of myself and I've been in and out of hospital more than I'd like to admit.

...but you know what? I've been so fucking happy I can barely begin to describe it. During the time I've been on the course, I've learned so much about myself, I've walked away from so many situations that weren't working and remained friends with the people I love; I've never actually gone hungry, I've never actually had nowhere to stay, I've grown into a circle of friends who I trust with who I am and I've got a really solid sense of who I am and what I do.

So, although the MA Exhibition might just on one level just be a display of one big picture of Dan in his duffle-coat that you can get your hands on as the cover of issue 2 of The Lengths, and the work I'm being assessed on is available from comics shops all over the place, seeing the work together in context in an exhibition setting like that, I realise now, has a personal meaning for me that I don't actually want to be flippant about or underplay.

It's been fucking amazing. The Lengths I've travelled, eh?


Doug said...

Dude - you are fucking amazing.

Can't make it to the show, but we should get together again soon for a good old natter.

Alison said...

Congratulations on finishing your MA, as someone who has followed your journey, I can't believe you're finishing this already. Be proud of yourself. And thanks for sharing everything you have, you've certainly taught me lots.