A New Way. Can You Help Some People Who Mean Alot To The World, and To Me?

Throughout our lives, we will come to find ourselves in a lot of different places.

A lot of different rooms.
A lot of different corners.
A lot of different wheres.

Those wheres will be unexpected. They will surprise us, scare us, change everything, change nothing, and break our hearts.

I’ve found myself in some pretty amazing wheres, and some pretty devastating places. But one of the constants was having the opportunity to be part of Postmasters Gallery, and to continue to feel like I am part of their huge art family.

And that’s why I am asking you to be a Patron and help support them to keep making the artworld more radical, more daring and the world a better place to be – for us all. 

Furthermore, outside of art, The Postmasters Family helped save my life… and helped me get back onto the path of trying to live my life.  See Postmasters aren’t just a normal gallery. They’re everything and more. They’re community, they’re bravery, they’re hope, they’re protest, they’re US.

Let me tell you how, and just how their Patron rewards will LITERALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE to YOU if you invest.

In 2008, I got to chance of a lifetime. I had decided the previous summer (2007), whilst working with steadfast ambitious & economically supported college-aged Americans, that I needed to catch up with my life and career ambitions. And my career ambitions was to be an artist and to live and work in NYC. Preferably in a gallery. This was no small-feat for an under confident, working class kid from Doncaster, UK (DONX!).

I worked at a bookies and at a toy-shop part-time during term-time,  whilst praying to the art gods that I’d get my artworld NYC summer. I did anything to make sure I could afford to go.

I remember exactly where I was when Magda of Postmasters Gallery said she’d meet me in person with the chance of getting to be Postmasters’ intern the summer of 2008. I was sat with my friend James Cotton in the Graphic Design-Apple suite at the old art campus. It was a super sunny day for the winter and the sun was blinding through the large windows. I just-re-read that same email, over & over again. I still have it archived even though I no longer have that email address (at hotmail.com?!).

I remember being incredibly nervous. I think I was practically mute for the first 2 weeks of being at Postmasters. But I learned so much.

I learnt around 26 years of Postmasters Show history, and art history in the making, as I was set to digitalizing their whole archive. Endless slides to be scanned, and amazing write-ups of artists in ArtForum, NYT, Art In America, et al – of still practicing, artists who have since disappeared, but a theme emerged.

These shows were often groundbreaking, urgent, courageous, some genuinely funny, ahead of the curves. New Media Art shows before new media art was accepted as it is today (though we still have ways to go with this medium). Women artists equally represented, and mostly – it still felt contemporary, and alive and represented the values that Magda and Tamas have sought to bring to the artworld their whole life.

I also learnt how to send invoices via fax (though still not into faxing), I met some of the coolest artists who continue to inspire my practice today, about art museums collections & how they buy art for them, at one point – I was left manning the whole establishment for a week?! and I learnt loads from Magda and Paulina’s experiences and ideas.

I was properly schooled that summer I was at Postmasters. I remember leaving after my last shift and I walked down to 9th Ave, and had to search for a working pay-phone to call my mom because I felt so sad I was leaving this amazing thing I had sort of been apart of for a short time.  I left that summer with my heart heavy but inspired.

I got back to the U.K. and art school felt kind of boring after that experience. I had to do something. Magda taught me that literally, anything is possible, even starting from scratch, along as you have perseverance, some people and community who can support you.

So my friends and I started our own lil’ artspace called CAKE (rebranded CAKE Everyone). We were a small space above a bar on West Street, Sheffield, UK. We lasted around 2 years and we learnt loads and had so much fun. But the thing is, I took everything I had learnt from Magda & Postmasters, and I put it into action in Sheffield – and invested it back into our local community.

I am still employing these lessons from this time into my life and practice.

Now, it would be easy to say – I became, like, an awesome artist, or got lots of gallery jobs… but because i’m not very smart or that talented, that didn’t really happen (and that’s ok!). But the year after I graduated was HARD. I nearly lost my own belief. But Magda offered hope and advise on the end of emails. That really helped me push through what I thought was a dark time…

Then things started to work out… I got a residency at SITE Gallery, I was working freelance as an illustrator, doing some university lecturing… I came over to work a summer in Boston/New Hampshire in the U.S.A.  but I had been feeling poorly for a good few months before I went… tired beyond belief, coughing up blood, endless nosebleeds, bone-pain, flu-like symptoms, drenching nightsweats.

And on the 21st August, everything changed. I found myself sitting in front an oncologist at General Mass Hospital. With my YMCA boss, 3,000 miles away from home. The doctor cleared his throat a few times and told me it looked like Lymphoma… Cancer. He told me, if it was time-sensitive and I didn’t get it sorted then I would die.

Well. As you can imagine, that wasn’t the news that I was expecting. I didn’t tell my mom for weeks (I was only 24). I felt ashamed, I don’t even know why. I thought it couldn’t be true. I googled the odds every-single-day. My boss kept telling me I needed to go home. The only person who I decided to tell who I didn’t work with — was Magda.

Because Magda was a person I knew I could trust, and always has a no bullshit take on everything but has an aabundance of empathy too.

After a crazy 32 U.S.A. state roadtrip (yolo!) Magda & Tamas put me up at their place, Magda cooked me an amazing breakfast before I left the USA for unknowns at home, not knowing whether I’d make it back again.

But the story is more complicated.

Magda nearly saw me go under. A few times.

I just had no energy. I laid in bed. Feeling sorry for myself. I was in pain. I was really sick. I couldn’t even watch Netflix. But Magda & Paulina would send reassuring tweets and emails and I slowly kept it together.

I worked harder at building my art-practice than on anything in my life, though it never felt like work. I devoted myself to it, though it never felt like sacrifice.  I am also endlessly grateful. Those years gifted me experiences, skills, lessons, and friendships. I would not be me without them.

Many forget that it’s a rare privilege to find something you care about so deeply and be able to make it your life.

I had struggled to get back, but my heart wasn’t in it in the same way.  I simply craved a new challenge. It didn’t matter why — I couldn’t lead  my life in the same way, and I had promised myself that I wouldn’t be caught without a plan if something happened to me again.

I realized I couldn’t have my old life back, but I also didn’t want it anymore.

So I decided to go into healthcare… radiotherapy & oncology! Of all things. But I’d kept all this secret from most people. It was furtive, shadowy work, and the secrets made my stomach ache.

 

But I reached out to M, and I hoped that she would still think I was an okay person.

The wild thing is, Magda still helped me through emails – giving me incredible advise and inspiration for my healthcare practice. To the point that I realized that I was still a fucking artist. I had got lost, but she never stopped helping me find the tracks back. I’m now doing my PhD combining all of my double agent status’ together. Just insane.

But here’s the thing about the Postmasters Fam., is that they don’t let you down.

Magda once said to me that we get dealt the cards that we get dealt, but we play them like they’re fucking Aces.  She has taught me that experience is subjective. We get to decide what’s devastating, what’s beautiful, and what we do next. In the books of our lives, we are both protagonist and narrator. And narrators have incredible power.

In writing this, I thought a lot about the places that shape us, and how, in turn, we shape those places in our minds. Postmasters have really shaped my life, in so many ways.

As human beings living on earth right now, we find ourselves in a very particular where.  The art-world mostly sucks, because it works for the 1%, lets not even talk about politics.

But this is something we can all help, maintain, and be a part of. Help sustain the legacy, help to make the future, help to secure a better history. Look down at your feet and decide what that means.

Instead of being afraid, I’m going to try to be brave. Instead of feeling regret, I’m going to focus on getting better tomorrow, and instead of hoping that someone else will say it or move it or mean it, I’m going to do it myself.

Postmasters has been there for us (in ways you might not even know yet!) so lets me THERE FOR THEM!

And as I’ve just shown you, the $100 or $500 a month reward will LITERALLY CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I can’t stress enough how much its worth it.

Let’s make art, and friends, and purpose, and be good to each other. And please spread the word!

If you got this far – Thanks!

pm2

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Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

Stolen from – http://www.brucemaudesign.com/4817/112450/work/incomplete-manifesto-for-growth because its awesome and food for thought as well as an inspiration, check it.
Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
    1. Allow events to change you.
      You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
    2. Forget about good.
      Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
    3. Process is more important than outcome.
      When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
    4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
      Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
    5. Go deep.
      The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
    6. Capture accidents.
      The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.
    7. Study.
      A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.
    8. Drift.
      Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.
    9. Begin anywhere.
      John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.
    10. Everyone is a leader.
      Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
    11. Harvest ideas.
      Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
    12. Keep moving.
      The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
    13. Slow down.
      Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
    14. Don’t be cool.
      Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
    15. Ask stupid questions.
      Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.
    16. Collaborate.
      The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.
    17. ____________________.
      Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
    18. Stay up late.
      Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
    19. Work the metaphor.
      Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
    20. Be careful to take risks.
      Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
    21. Repeat yourself.
      If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.
    22. Make your own tools.
      Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
    23. Stand on someone’s shoulders.
      You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
    24. Avoid software.
      The problem with software is that everyone has it.
    25. Don’t clean your desk.
      You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
    26. Don’t enter awards competitions.
      Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
    27. Read only left-hand pages.
      Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”
    28. Make new words.
      Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
    29. Think with your mind.
      Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.
    30. Organization = Liberty.
      Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’
    31. Don’t borrow money.
      Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
    32. Listen carefully.
      Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
    33. Take field trips.
      The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.
    34. Make mistakes faster.
      This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
    35. Imitate.
      Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.
    36. Scat.
      When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.
    37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
    38. Explore the other edge.
      Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.
    39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
      Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.
    40. Avoid fields.
      Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.
    41. Laugh.
      People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.
    42. Remember.
      Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.
    43. Power to the people.
      Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.