Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole
As usual I am going into the New Year with the plan to juggle multiple projects. The past year has been challenging in many ways and two failed Arts Council England applications has not helped. It is always difficult as an artist to juggle how to make a project happen with the desire to just get on with it. When I apply for funding it is always because I want to work with others and to be able to pay them properly there is very little alternative than to apply for funding in some form. If a project involves just me then I have always self funded but this is becoming harder and harder.
Monotype Compositions has received good feedback from ACE and has met all their criteria and now just needs a few tweaks to get it through in a third application. However, 18 months have already passed since I first applied and waiting even longer to get started on the project is something I don’t want at the moment. So, we (John McKiernan, Graham Klyne and I) have decided to make a start and do some of the first step experimentation and development before I re-apply. So, Monotype Compositions has begun, without funding, but with an enormous amount of support from all involved to work on the project to get it going.
Over the past two years I have also been working on the Making Arrangements project and losing my Mum last year made this project even more important as it gave me a way to express the sense of loss I felt. The exhibition of the work in October/Nov was a hard thing to put on but provided so many interesting conversations and seemed to give others a way to speak of their own loss of a parent. The exhibition helped me to draw a dotted line under the work so far but I am going to continue working with my Mum’s artificial flowers. However, the next project entitled ‘Artificeae’ needs a certain bravery to begin properly as it will involve taking my Mum’s arrangements and each flower apart, exploring the component parts of each and studying them to create a series of ‘botanical’ studies. As yet I don’t know quite where this exploration will take me or what process I will use but some tentative first steps have been made.
As previously mentioned, funding my work is an issue and last year I began to seriously consider how to create a commercial practice. To date the work I create is not intended to be commercial. I do sell some but because of the subject matter and the integrity I have always tried to work by, makes it difficult to present the work in a commercial setting. Alongside the work I present publicly however I have also always created other things that up until recently I have not really taken seriously or thought about them as having potential. Pattern making is something that has always been present in a lot of my work but it is also something I explore for fun. So…….. I have decided to take what seems like a bold step and will be launching The Edwards Press. The Edwards Press will be me, but another side to my creative practice. It is difficult and most of the time not appropriate to create a range of products from my Fine Art work and to create a commercial range as ‘Dawn Cole’ I feel has the potential to confuse what it is my work is about. Edwards is my maiden name so still me but another me. I am hoping initially to launch a range of wrapping paper and greetings cards based on my patterns. Whilst this won’t bring in a fortune, I am hoping over time to develop further products that if they sell well will create a small income which can then support my other work. Who knows – but I feel it is time to try it.
In November I was delighted to have a solo show ‘Remembrance’ at Oaten Hill Gallery and I am very grateful to them for supporting the fundraising I did for the Lochnagar Crater Foundation (LCF) through the sale of my Poppy prints. There are still prints left and there will be another opportunity to buy early this year – but this time the monies raised will go to support another project I am working on and developing with LCF. More news of this to come.
I am delighted that I will be exhibiting as part of the Consequences exhibition in Edinburgh in April/May. This exhibition forms part of Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre’s Peace Cranes project.
So, a busy year ahead and a resolve to blog more, particularly about Monotype Compositions as the project develops.