I start most things, with an unrealistic optimism, I think many artists do. So when I embarked on a masters of visual arts by research, I thought if I’m going to have another solo exhibition I may as well write about it and get a masters degree at the same time. Actually not that easy :-/ I should mention here that writing does not come naturally to me and one of my motivations for studying was to improve my writing skills as they are needed more and more for a serious art career.
In the age of specialisation it seems artists are expected to be the opposite. When I was a young emerging artist in the late 80’s and early 90’s I was looked after by a gallery and all I had to do was make work. (People who were in Perth at that time will remember Brigitte and Artplace.) Those days are over; the modern, contemporary artist has to do and be everything. Now I have my own website – which I built, I teach, I do demonstrations and residencies, I am active on social media and I am expected to be able to write about my art.
I have probably had to spend more time writing and researching than someone else who was more proficient, it takes longer for any new skill. Those of you who know my work will not be surprised that topic is to do with the symbolism of Alice in Wonderland and contextualising that through the life of the author Lewis Carroll and Victorian society – I haven’t thought up the question yet. I have almost finished my literature review, my supervisor and other staff at ECU have been extraordinarily good at whipping me into shape and I am seeing my formal writing skills improve before my eyes! I am more amazed than they are.
So what about the making? – everything I read is feeding into ideas, lots of ideas – too many. I am writing them down ready for when I have done enough writing to start what I feel is the proper work, but don’t tell my lecturers that 🙂
You can see my artwork here, email me if you are interested in an unframed print. http://shanajames.com/gallery/
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my Alice in Wonderland based work here me being interviewed from a couple of years ago on ABC radio.