I'm a bit like the cat who turns round and round seven times before sitting down: I need to fiddle with things in order to feel at home in my working space, and I've had fun over the last week sorting things out, rearranging, putting things together... with the result that process of shoe-horning my printmaking equipment into our rented office/studio space has created a really nice space in which I can work. I am surprised in a way: I thought all my stuff would impinge horribly on Michael's working space, and yet we've managed to carve the room up so that we can both breathe and walk around without falling over things (apart from his shoes in the middle of the carpet all the time, but that's another matter!).
Now it's just possible that you may not identify the cluttered picture above as being anything like a workable space or it may seem like unimaginable luxury. I'm just very glad that in the whole awful process of coming over here so much of my equipment survived intact... all I have to do now is to start using it again.
Around the whole palaver of moving studios, lots of things have been happening to do with the initiation of new projects. Two mail art collaborative projects seem likely to get up and running in the New Year, allowing me to work with a couple of very interesting artists in the Bristol area. More on that later! Meanwhile there is the faintest hint of a possibility that I might be able to start an artists' book exchange project with a larger group of artists here, each producing a limited edition of an artists' book for collation into sets. Each participant would receive a complete set of the books and a couple more sets might be available for sale or for acquisition by institutions that collect artists' books. My model for this is, roughly speaking, the model employed by Exchange Partners in Print Media, with whom I have been involved for a couple of years. But I think that artists' books are perhaps more complicated to edition than A3 prints in two dimensions, so I'm interested to see how the model would work with fewer participants (so that fewer books need to be produced in each edition), and with a multi-authored blog to go with the project. All three projects are in their infancy, but they each play to my skills as an initiator and facilitator, as well as holding out the prospect of making links, bridging distance and encouraging a critical dialogue.
One place that I'd love to go to, which will undoubtedly encourage critical dialogue, is Artspace Mackay's biennial Artists' Book Forum which will be held in February 2008. Oh how I'd love to go! Michael and I discussed it, but looking at the transport options of car (15 hours driving, on my own, at least and then there's the cost of petrol - probably $500 - plus overnight accommodation on the way up and the way back), train (various changes, probably 15 hours travelling time each way, and no difference in price!) and plane (slightly cheaper than the car and train options, and definitely quicker) plus accommodation plus conference fees plus dinner fees plus class fees plus food etc... and I reckon I'd be looking at the best part of $2,000 and I can't justify it. So I've set my sights on the 2010 conference in the hope that a) I will have saved up enough money to go by then and b) I might have done enough work in the intervening years to make it more immediately relevant to my practice! We live in hope, that's my philosophy of life.