Return to Sweden

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A quick post to kick off my three weeks back at Ålgården Printmaking Studio in Sweden. I spent four weeks here on an artist’s residency in 2012 as part of the Connections North programme run by Art Connections and it proved to be a real milestone for me.

It gave me time to create work and explore my printmaking without the pressure to sell, a break from the distractions that come from working at home and making a fulltime living from my artwork, the chance to use equipment that I don’t normally have access to and the opportunity to work alongside other artists and experience an international printmaking scene. It wasn’t plain sailing and I had some low points as well as highs as I learned how my own creative processes work and the pressures I put myself under to produce finished pieces but the overall experience was invaluable.

Unfortunately, I didn’t allow myself the time to develop what I learned back then and I spent last year working extremely long hours to fulfil my teaching and exhibition commitments. Apart from feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, I felt that I hadn’t produced much new work because I was busy printing up editions and I certainly hadn’t had the headspace to really push my ideas forward. Being a full-time artist is one long learning experience and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The positives from last year were more collectors, an increased interest in my work from people prepared to pay for it and a very positive response from the people that I met at the shows. This has put me in a really good position to look back and reassess how I structure this year.

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My goals are to produce a body of new prints inspired by the North York Moors National Park for my exhibition at Inspired By…Gallery at the end of the year and I’ve joined Ålgården as a member so that I can have a ‘creative break’ from my own studio, make use of the fabulous equipment, get well and truly stuck into my work and further develop the photopolymer experiments that I began last time. It is also a chance to forge a connection here that I hope to sustain in the future years. This is the kickstart that I need and I want to make the most of it. I’ve got some battles to fight psychologically but I’m up for the challenge and raring to go…once I get a bit of sleep, I don’t enjoy getting up at 2.30am!

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One last thing, I know it is environmentally disastrous but I can’t help loving being in the air. As a former potholer and errant scuba diver, I love the feeling of being suspended within my environment and the extra dimension that gives it. Seeing things from new angles and worlds that you don’t normally have access to enthrals me and it was great to witness the myriad of Swedish forests, lakes and islands unfold beneath me.

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