Would you give all that up?

I’m preparing an application to the Arts Council. It’s been on my mind for months, shaping the inner narrative in my mind, but still I’ve struggled until now to get the ideas down on paper.

In the end I had to scale down the vision, I’ve secured some residencies in January so no longer could afford the 3 month turn around needed for a more substantial bid, so just been hard at it here for a few weeks, at my desk, accompanied by an old dusty church candle, aged from years in an old ice cream tub under the stairs, lit now beside me – the warm glow of support has helped.

I asked a very special person who’s been supporting me, whether better to include a document as supporting material or a link. I could only include one or the other. She said the blog, ‘shows I am a reflective artist’.

I had forgotten about the blog.

It’s true I rarely use it for myself and yet, it would help, be a holding place for thoughts and anxieties, the latter has been increasing somehow, it might be my age.

I made a little while ago, a corner at the end of the bed. Sandwiched between a wall of books and the bed, facing a wall. On a wooden box my mum had given me are candles and a wooden African sculpture with twisted body parts that don’t quite fit, merged with the ebony, I think it must be ebony, that I used to look at and then stopped looking at and now I look at it again.

Having a space to kneel and be, holding a precious stone I bought in Norwich outdoor market some years ago, I try and still myself. It doesn’t last very long but at least I have made a space to be, for me.

From time to time I never know if I can keep this up. It’s not melodramatic really, it’s a product of on-going reflection, that I’m required to do, but also acknowledgement of the reality of things. I haven’t had proper paid work since June, it’s now October (apart from 400 pounds in July). This is unusual. It’s given me time to think, time to prepare writing, time to be a better parent, more present and available, it also provides space to doubt more, to feel even less sure, and anxiety is no doubt more present with the time alone figuring out ‘what next’.

I went to see several live events. A work in some underground caves, by Katie Green, in Torquay, a wonderful way to be poised underground, to be carried by the performers, to hear song and sound and watch the shadows by candlelight.

I saw Gecko’s new show, The Wedding. Remembering many years ago when I was performing in one of the Greenwich Dance Cabarets and did a short cameo part for them, and now, how that confident, physically luxuriant, lithe agility of dancing, how I can’t do it anymore. I watched with pleasure though. I don’t need the work to work on every level, I’m a generous witness when I see things, genuinely interested in the endeavour, the character of the work. Here the strong choreographic punctuation, relatively few bodies making the stage seem more populated, movement darting and charging in-between each other.

It was the Lost Weekend festival in Exeter last weekend. I saw Mike Bell’s Cardboard Arcade. Given I’m not a gaming person I discovered something quite extraordinary really, people playing together, helping each other and talking opening to each other. I understood something I’d not before. Helped by my son, it was lovely to see children so involved and so present.

And The Tale! from Situations taking place across Torbay over one long day. I always thought Torbay was a town and not an area, and I’m 45, born and raised in Devon! it was quite special; included an audio walk, Chris Watson recordings coming out of a cliff, a performance in a lido on the edge of the sea, a film showing in Paignton’s old Picture House, the smell dank and damp on entering was electric. I love that level of detail…

There’s been more shows, I’ve seen a lot really and there was an interesting talk by Alex Legere from his years as a Blue Peter producer in the pub, in my town, a fundraiser for the new scout hut.

But away from things to see and experience.

Where am I now?

I’ve another proposal to write, the Bonnie Bird Choreographic award. I was shortlisted in 2013 and 2015 but this year, it feels not ‘more urgent’, I feel even less likely to get it really,  but that the job is to try, to move my thinking on, to be dignified about it. Maybe the holding out for things, the demonstrating of need, isn’t to be held on to too tight. It makes it worse. Creates a kind of temporary dependency, one that doesn’t strengthen me inside. Without the need, the applications probably don’t register as urgent; but expressing the urgency makes me even more vulnerable.

In France over the summer I made dances on the children. I couldn’t help it. I noticed how different I felt about the environment when I imagined making portraits of the elder village folk dancing in their gardens/driveways. I could see it. I felt alive just imagining it. I should do it.

The answer must be just to do things anyway, just to do them!

Yesterday, to coax my boy to read – 5 minutes watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…

Grandpa … not Joe, the other one,


‘…would you give all that up for something as common as money…’


No I wouldn’t.

There has to be a way – a new way!

I just have to sit quietly to find it.

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