• Jess

Winning Streak pt 2


As promised what shall follow is a continuation of my exciting and rather surprising September adventures. In my previous post I told you about all the things I’ve been entering lately, in the hope of getting my work out there in to the wider world. Another of these endeavours had the most magnificent and unexpected of results, it involves a slightly obsessive hoarding tendency, a few train journeys and an inordinate amount of grinning. It was by pure chance that I happened to notice an art competition that The Guardian were promoting called London Lives: Travel, I checked it out and noticed there was only a week left until the deadline, normally this would have made me write it off completely, but after my experiences with the QR-3D and Blast/Bless projects I was fired up and chomping at the bit to get stuck in to something else. So I decided to just go for it, what did I have to lose! If you’ve looked around this site at some of my other work you will have noticed that a lot of it involves objects that have their own personal history, frequently entangled with that of my own. It shall be of no surprise then that I love to hoard, it is almost impossible for me to throw anything away, I see too much potential for interesting art in all of it. One such thing that I have held on to for the last few years is a collection of train tickets from my travels to and from my time at Winchester School of Art studying for my degree and the occasional London trip for birthday celebrations. This wasn’t just a case of not cleaning out your purse I consciously kept hold of them because I thought they were a powerful record of a very important time in my life and would be perfect for an art project further down line (pun only slightly intended). This competition provided me with the perfect opportunity to utilise my stash. So to the creation of the actual piece, as with all my work history plays a strong part in my ideas and what comes as a result of them. The competition was tied into the redevelopment of Blackfriars station so it was only right to incorporate the station's history with that of my own. One of the things that I find fascinating about train travel in particular is that so much of it is about waiting, the simple act of standing or sitting still, hoping for the swift arrival of your next connection or the train that will take you to your final destination. It is in these moments of stillness that my love of people watching comes in to play in a big way. So many creative people get inspiration from simply observing those around them, be they writers, designers or artists. So much about art is to do with the human experience, what we see in others around us can tell us so much and waiting for a train is one of those perfect times. People lost in thought, the weary traveller laden down with bags who just wants to be home with their feet up, the busy who hate those enforced moments of stillness they can’t avoid, these people are all in a shared experience but their reactions couldn’t be more different. I wanted to really engage with this in my work so I scoured images of people waiting at train stations for silhouettes that really struck me, I didn’t stick to the passengers of today, I found images from those travelling at the beginning of the 20th Century. Marrying the old and new I used my tickets for the modern silhouettes and images of old Blackfriars train tickets for the old. Thus with it’s completion my entry was sent out in to the great beyond with only the faintest of hopes that something would come of it.

Skip to a week or so later and there I am sitting at my computer doing the morning e-mail check, clicking through the usual circulars from the all the arts organisations I follow, hang on what’s this “Dear artist, We are delighted to inform you that your entry for the London Lives: Travel competition has been selected for display at Bankside Gallery.” To say I was anything less than a squealing and slightly hysterical schoolgirl version of myself would be insulting your intelligence and mine (what little there is of it). When the initial shock and glee started to wear off the terror started to creep in, my work was well and truly out there that meant that I had to be too. Insecurity, an artist's best friend, the annoying co-dependent sort that you can’t seem to get rid of. If it wasn’t for my most fabulous family my brain may well have exploded, especially when it came to the printing and framing of my work, something I’d never really done before, working mainly in textiles I’ve never really had to call on the services of either a printer or framer. With the help of my own personal superhero (my wonderful sister) and her super powered chums especially the faultless and generous work of @mustardpost, my troubles were soon defeated. Here I’d like to pause for a moment so that you can all play a small snippet of rousing music, Eye of the Tiger, Superman theme, your choice.

Right that’s enough. Back to the story, that’s if you haven’t fallen asleep yet! With my piece framed and packed off to the gallery ready for hanging the only thing left to do was attend the private view. So off I went armed with a nice dress, pretty earrings (now dubbed my lucky pair), a mum for moral support and of course a new train ticket for my collection. On arrival we met up with my sister who was to be my +1 for the evening. After a day of enjoying what the glorious London had to offer we set off for the Bankside Gallery. Upon arrival we were greeted by the lovely gallery staff and I was given my very own name tag, all very exciting. We both pretty much spotted my work straight away, situated rather delightfully opposite the gallery’s front desk, it was such a thrill to see it there on display. After speeches from the gallery, Network Rail and Cancer Research UK my sister and I took in all the other entries. There was such a huge variety of work and so very different to my own, I was in no doubt that I wouldn’t win anything and was still riding high on the fact a piece of mine was on display in a gallery in London, next to Tate Modern no less. The possibility of my work maybe getting sold during the exhibition was as far as my dreams would dare to take me. Shows what I know! It is at this point in proceedings that things took a most unexpected turn. The time had come for the winners to be announced........

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