Gary Peters | Making it #9

Making it

Ciccadas and sunshine. Clicking away. I type. A podcast playing. A world of noise. And I’m not in the studio. Again. Juggling the “jobby job” with trying to make work while not really dealing with a hangover of tiredness and lethargy. Meh. These days new art takes the form of doodling in sketchbooks while half watching BBC crime dramas online. Perhaps it’s enough for now.

Yes, I’m working on the Light Box project for Courtenay Place. With the works almost done I feel I’m now involved in a lightweight version of project management –  three people to liaise with, some design work for me to do, a budget to write and maybe one spreadsheet to wrestle with. All manageable, all necessary and feeling quite removed from a studio based practice.

How easy it feels to slip out of the habit of making, of not going to the studio. Dangerously easy. I feel like it’s been an age since I’ve made anything new. Which, while not quite true, there are the light boxes after all, it is how I’m perceiving my practice at the moment. My studio feels full of old work, physically getting in the way of new work. I literally and metaphorically feel the need for a blank canvas and the space for something new.

Sunday evening sitting in front of my laptop going through a pile of email. Exhibition invites and announcements from galleries in London and in Auckland. Images from Ocula with the latest and greatest from some hot art fair and an unending procession of art around the world. Some catch my eye – Dexter Dalwood, something from Sadie Coles (reliable in their choice of images for their emails), the latest painting show at Two Rooms.

I’m getting fired up now. Looking at a couple of artist’s websites and thinking, “Where’s my work in all of this?”. Feeling the fire. Feeling the need to paint again and push this career of mine forward. Make the work, get it seen, get it recognised and get it written about. I’m not entirely sure how healthy this is. Feeling uneasy even writing, “get it recognised” as if there’s something amiss. Being dependant on others for recognition sits uneasily. Yet, many artists I know, myself included, want success, want to be seen, know the importance of making the work and, first and foremost, of being happy with it. Sometimes I feel I’m asking the wrong question in all of this…

A conversation with a collector at dinner the other night, “How do you find a good dealer gallery to represent your work?” A fair question, and one several friends are trying to find the answer to. Me? I was introduced to Paul Nache several years ago through artist friends. We kept in touch, he signed up to my mailing list, and when he saw me making work he really liked (several years later) he got in touch. My show at Melanie Rogers came about through a show at the Pah Homestead. Melanie saw my work and approached me with the idea of a group show.

Have I ever approached dealers directly? Once, in London, purely on the off chance – I happened to have images of my work with me –  as I, quite by chance, got into conversation with the gallery owner. Something could and perhaps should have come from it but at the time I had no studio, was living in a backpackers and had a bag full of excuses.

Doing little things. Recording sound and video on my phone. Whatever catches my ear, my eye, all with no aim. Just because. Doodling because I can, because I always have. Tiny accumulations. Will they become works? Maybe. Maybe not. Deciding the black photos my phone has taken in my pocket form a new series digital images – Accidental Monochromes. Wanting to create something really meaty. Trusting it will come.

So working without working I guess. Paying money for a studio which, for the moment, is being used more as a store room. Reading fiction. Watching tv drama. Listening to podcasts. Wondering what to jettison. Writing occasionally. Trying (with varying degrees of success and guilt) to get back on the research / academic reading horse. Knowing how it benefits my practice by providing depth, richness and a certain weight. And yet simply wanting to take a real break. A long, long holiday to get some real rest and a new perspective.

Gary Peters is an artist based in Wellington.

He is represented by Paul Nache.