Freelance Reflection #67

I’m fully feeling the anticipation of the nine weeks of TEFL work I’m doing in July (despite having started anxiety medication). Changing schools after the first six weeks, I’m hoping I’ll be less phased about going straight into a new school without a break. I feel more confident in some ways, but I can’t stand being observed and haven’t taught in this way for so long for years now! I’m doing a lot of teaching Macbeth at the moment, which is all good, but it’s also for 8 hours a week, so for the sake of my mental health, I’m giving myself a break from that before I plunge into teaching for 20 hours a week (this is all plus my regular 7-8 hours of usual tuition). So, I’m thinking about how I can balance things to make my summer as stress-free as possible. I’m thinking as much reading in the sun as possible! That’s my happy place, and where I fortunately spent part of my birthday – along with the Louise Bourgeois exhibition, eating pan-Asian food, and dancing at The Shard’s silent disco.

I’m slowly getting on top of things, but I feel sad that I’ve not been able to dedicate time to creative work. I feel inspired by so many things – I’ve seen loads of bands, including Dry Cleaning supporting Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who do spoken word over drums and guitars, which I love, and I’ve loved watching Jake Rooke’s Big Boys on Channel 4. Another peer, Bisha Ali, has also got Ms Marvel on Disney! I’m hoping I’ll be able to find balance and prioritise creativity in September… when I’m also going to be starting my MA to become an Art Therapist. Anyway, I’m hoping at least that I’ll be able to save well to pay my first year in instalments, but if I have more donations, I’ll also be able to create more… which is also a part of what the MA is about, becoming a therapist, whilst continuing your art practice.

Art Attack

So, I’ve been really busy at the moment.  I’ve been craving some free time because I’ve been so inspired by a lot of art I’ve seen recently, amongst other things.  I went to the Joan Miró exhibition at the Tate Modern with my parents.  My only knowledge of the artist was from postcards from my dad’s dad, Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas, a well-known poet, writer and translator in Spain, whom, sadly I haven’t got to know very well as a grandfather.

I had been out the night before at my friend Gordon’s house, where we ate a Chinese takeaway and drank until about 5am.  I went home at 7am to avoid snoring and discomforted sleep, woke up still tired around midday, had brunch and went to meet my parents at the gallery.  Despite my tiredness, the exhibition exceeded my expectations and as it showing until September 11th, I recommend going along.  It made me proud of my Spanish heritage.

I loved the way he used poetry and the flowing imagination present throughout the years of his career.  There was an amazing variety, with pieces of intricate details, simple serials of lines and shapes, and burnt canvases.  The work is both personal and political, surreal and yet thoughtful, and experimental, evolving through time.

I recently watched the programme Graffiti Wars, which was incredibly interesting.  I’ve had an interest in Street Art for a long time, my Gran often buying me little books and sending me articles about it.  The documentary centred on the feud between Banksy and Robbo.  Prior to watching it, I have been a fan of Banksy, and watched a docu-film directed by him, called Exit Through The Gift Shop.

A lot of people have taken sides, with graffiti writers tagging ‘Team Robbo’ alongside their work.  Robbo claimed in a book that he was introduced to Banksy and said ‘oh yeah, I’ve heard of you’ to which Banksy replied ‘oh, well, I haven’t heard of you.’  Robbo responded by slapping him and saying ‘well, you won’t forget me now, will you?’  Since both artists keep their identity secret to protect themselves from the law, and this exchange could easily not be correct (Banksy denied ever meeting Robbo) it seems ridiculous to take sides and stupid that the whole thing escalated the way it is.

My opinion is that, Robbo was aware that retelling this story about Banksy, whether it happened or not, would raise his profile.  Maybe Banksy was wrong in defacing Robbo’s 1985 piece, but it was clearly already defaced by smaller tags and I thought it was a witty piece, which ultimately helped Robbo establish himself as a Street Artist, and not just a graff writer – of which I do believe there is a difference.  A Street Artist is intelligent and thought-provoking, creating aesthetically pleasing works.  A graffiti writer is less about the talent and ideas, and more about vandalism and ego, with the kudos of getting to hear-to-reach spots.  That’s why the police leave Street Art and clean up ugly, meaningless markings.

Throughout the documentary Robbo came across bitter and jealous.  Okay, Banksy may be a ‘sell out’ but I believe it does come down to a resentment for the success and money that Banksy has made for himself.  I want to make a career out of what I love doing, and there are many jokes about the poor poet, but by me doing an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and wanting to make a living out of what I love doing, does that make me a ‘sell out’?  Making money is just one element of the Capitalist society we live in.  We can’t beat them, so we have to join them.  Banksy himself stated he believed his work was ‘overrated’ but if you’re offered over £100,000 for your work, are you going to turn it down?

At the end of the day, Robbo’s success was down to Banksy, and on the documentary, he admits that himself.  And Robbo does have talent, and really, the feud should just be forgotten, so other graffiti writers can be inspired to turn to Street Art and do what they love for a living.  Sadly, Robbo was said to have ended up in a coma, which was a shocking statement to end the documentary on.

I have also been to see the ‘Love is What You Want’ exhibition by Tracey Emin at the Hayward Gallery.  As you can see from the website, it compromised of her trademark blankets, along with neon signs, films, collections of memorabilia, drawings, paintings, sculptures and her writing.  As I said to my friend, Siobhan Belingy, I could have lived in it, it was so good.

I feel really inspired by all this work I’ve seen to get into my poetry and get more into art and illustration alongside my writing.  I’ve been meaning to do a painting for ages and hope to get round to it soon.  I’ve got a big sketchbook that my boyfriend Matt drew in whilst drunk and I’m going to get back into a good creative practice.  I want to create text-based stuff, but with visuals, like these artists, and those such as Jenny Holzer.  I gave a painting I did during my art foundation at Central Saint Martins to my Gran, and she told me her friend had really liked it and often asked if I’ve done any more artwork and that I must carry on doing it.  Sometimes I think of that and think maybe I should keep doing it.  I must have some morsel of talent to have been at CSM.  I think it’s just that I lack confidence with it, and I know my technical skills are not the best, and the reason I didn’t pursue it was because I didn’t see it as a practical way of making money.  But maybe, combined with my writing, working with my hands again could be something positive.

Here’s a bit of my work from my foundation year, starting with the one my Gran has.

piece for a friend

final piece, installation