A little look at some highlights in a month of being an arts freelancer and creative odd-bod.
Tuesday 9 October
Took part in a podcast interview with the fantastic Rebecca Swarray of RebeccaNeverBecky, who is storming ahead with her creative projects right now, a joy to witness. Fellow podcast guest was dear Oskar Marchock and the three of us chatted creativity, queer culture, inspiration, life goals and more. Can’t wait for everyone to hear.
Last appointment for a while with my myofascial therapist / guru, Christian Platts. My body is as out of line as my mind so good to have chance to attend to both. Have been considering some major changes lately but worried about what I will have to leave behind. The tarot indicated that letting go is part of moving forward and is to be appreciated as a facet of life, not feared. So let’s see.
In the evening, co-hosted an event with George House Trust called ‘Positively Speaking’ at 53Two in which people living with HIV in Manchester shared their stories and experiences with an audience, showing the diverse face of HIV in our city. Felt newly inspired to help fight HIV stigma. It has cost some people more than the disease itself and there is no excuse for ignorance any more. One of the best events I’ve been involved with. Wished I could have cultivated a larger audience for them (attendance anxiety will actually be my undoing – 45 people registered, 18 came) but I have to let those kinds of worries go or I risk overlooking the specialness of what we shared.
Rent Party at The Klondyke a 5 star theatrical experience. Black Gold Arts are a force to be reckoned with, cultivating diverse queer POC projects. Saw the scratch version of this a while back. New version is utterly transformed, expanded, interactive, hard-hitting, musical, hilarious.
Manning the stand at The Manchester Contemporary / Buy Art Fair for Islington Mill. Not selling any work this year so have the chance to roam around, chat to people at their own stands, and recline on our sofa talking about Salford, studio spaces and 20 years of Islington Mill. Our stand is the nicest by far with bespoke typographical wallpaper and a TV screening a show-reel of Mill art . Nice weekend. Saw lots of art that blew my mind, one way or the other…
Start of a long week of meetings to discuss, amongst other things, a queer film festival for Manchester, a new public engagement project around sex & drugs, the future of the Manchester Pride festival, a tour of the revamped Waterside Theatre in the Gay Village, and loads loads more. Head is spinning by Friday. My work pattern tends to go like this: Initial project excitement > Develops into task list > Overwhelmed by enormity of things > Stagnate, procrastinate. Shame at ‘doing things wrong or badly’ has prompted me to begin seeing a work coach and have had some initial success already. She talked me through my worries around making a writing application and helped me see things from a more positive persective. I applied straight after our session and got the job. In January I begin writing for the new magazine pubished by PAPER Gallery. More to follow!
‘The Pride’ at Hope Mill Theatre by Alexi Kaye Campbell, a very good decade-hopping tale of gay desire, both near-contemporary and from half a century before. Two central characters are taken on by Simon Hallman who is excellent at teasing out distinct versions of a thematically ‘reincarnated’ character. Sat on the panel afterwards to talk ‘pride’, queer theatre, and the play. Such a relief that it was a good piece of work, being panellist for bad material is the worst and I am sometimes too tired to be a diplomat.
To Mayfield Depot for MIF show ‘Everything that happened and would happen’. Exactly my cup of tea. Grand, abstract, postmodern, loud, ambitious, political. Perfect use of the space but audience was a bit more stationary than I was led to believe. Still, as a taster for forthcoming Factory ambitions, a v good omen.
Hosted a Conversation Circle with my friend, the artist Rosanne Robertson, at the end of her ‘To The Ground’ solo show at AIR Gallery, Altrincham. The collection has some of Rosanne’s best work to date and we talked in a comfortable and, I hope, unpretentious inclusive way about her practice, how her identity informs the work, what she is learning as an artist, what she is expressing when she puts the work together, and loads more. Our buzzwords were lesbian, working-class, labour, queer, piss, power, gender and ART. White vests, bricks, house dust, charcoal, breeze blocks, soil, Sure deodorant cans, soap, menstrual blood, bomb shells and other gorgeous tactile and suggestive materials are all in the mix. Imagine a kindly alien came across a bombed-out house and tried its best to reassemble the pieces with no notion of what a house was. The domestic, queered and turned inside out in some ways. We had a full house/gallery and a great conversation emerged including everyone present. I managed to get the phrase ‘James Dean with a clit’ in so I was happy. For me as a curator, it was flattering to be asked to do this work because it suggests a degree of trust from Rosanne, a belief in my engagement with the work, which I fully had, and all of that then meant I could choose to be challenging. Plus it’s just good news to hear two clever people like us talking about art in public with Northern accents, so there.
Friday 26 October
To Liverpool Biennial for a one-day whistle stop. The party was well and truly over by the time I got there. Venues were hard to get into, scruffy, art was thin and the usually helpful Liverpudlians seemed a bit fed up. Twice I had to ask where the art even was. Am I standing on it? The Agnes Varda’s left an impression, one of them was from 1982 though. I liked Inci Eviner’s ‘Reenactment of Heaven’ too, a highly-detailed panoramic moving film and sound collage projection that was more like the bedlam of hell than heaven. I’ve forgotten most of the rest already. Heavy on video and most of it long. Highlight was getting a deep cleansing facial treatment while the artist told me a story and I got ASMR. She made a ghostly cast of my face. I love one-one-one performance and would like to see more and maybe do some.
Trans Creative Board Meeting to discuss Kate O’Donnell’s action packed year, and an ambitious year ahead. I was acting Chair for first time, think I did okay. Lots to do and all of it exciting, and I think so necessary in current transphobic climate. Would like to see more venues and organisations proactively championing trans artists and making space for them (as opposed to charging venue hire for example).
Activist goings on…
Stewarding sessions outside Marie Stopes clinic offering visible support/resistance against local church ‘vigilantes’ harassing clinic users.
Peaceful vigil outside Quakers building while group of anti-self-ID feminists met inside. The scowls some of them gave to trans people as they passed us by chilled me. The week leading up to the consultation was a nightmare for everyone, well done for surviving it.
Trans solidarity meeting in Todmorden, again where the GRA consultation has divided communities. Trans positivity needed!
Finished Kathy Acker’s Blood & Guts in High School after a tortuous relationship with it. See my Goodread for more…
Finished Recollections of my Life as a Woman by Diane di Prima and am reeling, what a beautiful ride, such a grand life of adventure and art and sacrifice.
Skate Park (2018)
It Follows (2015)
The Babadook (2014)
The Read, podcast, so hilarious.
Happiness, with Gretchen Rubin, podcast.
You Must Remember This, podcast: Jane Fonda & Jean Seberg, Bela Lugosi & Boris Karloff episodes especially.
Alice Coltrane, Natalie Prass , Ryuichi Sakomoto, Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor (seriously on repeat for 3 days).
I want to manage my addiction to caffeine.
Proud of myself for getting back to the gym despite crazy undiagnosed leg pain.
Excited to have the chance to show ‘A mile of black paper’ again soon.
For Samhain I set fire to the things I want to let go of. ‘Fear of success’ and ‘Fear of failure’ both went in the flames.