You want the story in bullshit?
I use the narrative of personal experience to engage in issues of social justice and reform. Using the principles of socialism , anarchy and positive action to inform my work in curation.
To be honest I got pissed off with the arts world. Even in Labour Britain. Inclusivity wasn’t that inclusive, and artists were given way to much money to interact on social issues that ultimately pushed their own vanity project rather than social reform or integration. Artists funded their art career for six months and gave some disadvantage kids some disposable cameras, then fucked right off back to where they came from. Little change was implemented and middle-class nature of a lot of NGO’s pushed an arts agenda over genuine transformation and life skills provision. To be honest it felt cruel. Artists were paid a shit tonne of money to document distintegrating council estates rather than than empowering community activists to intervene. It was kind of sickening. Paintings were bought and sold on the public purse and very little arts upliftment reached the poorest in society. Arts professionals had little or no skills to engage disadvantaged groups in appropriate or meaningful ways.
It was through this garb that found myself stepping into the fray so-to-speak when I started working at a place called Falmouth Wharves. Before I knew it I was deeply involved in a planning dispute that involved some Falmouth Marine Industries and some Creatives v.s a rather domineering Property Developer who was largely referred to as Mundic Blok . In the end we won. The upshot was that gentrification was rife. Even the very creatives who were against such things couldn’t grasp the idea of creating and interesting working symbiosis between marine users and themselves. Their was a conflict on interest. There was also a huge amount of interest about how poorly implemented development might detrimentally impact the local residential community.
In the years following I thought I might explore way in which creative practices could be used to intervene in the planning process. How communities could be less disrupted by planning proposals that threatened the well being of the community.
Due to personal circumstances (which were actually I large scale societal problems Don’t worry you’ll find out sometime) I got waylaid on these examinations while ruminating about the cause for years. As a result I ended up with a half baked project I never full finished. Time may still be on my side.
In the meantime rather than trying to influence the complex beureaucractical structures of a rigged system, I thought it would be a far better use of my time to create positive and a future focused actions. That sought to address the needs of the community. Anarchism had taken hold of me.
Art Inaction: The Art of Non-Engagement
Kimberley K. Stone uses radical community arts practices in order to foster independence in her work while acting to empower the communities she works with. This gives community members the ability to question and free themselves from the power structures that surround them.
Started as a counter-culture approach to the need to document and push everything. It seemed that so much of artists time and arts fasciliatators time was just used to push the product rather than creating. That an artist or curator was only as good as there grants, funding, residency applications and the all signing all dancing marketing that went along with. Usually pictures of there friends and family at otherwise empty arts worskshops in the local paper. The the bodies and trusts that managed the grants, funding and essentially the artists were rigged in favour of their own agendas (Keeping their jobs). Without actually engaging with the issues at hand. Not only this many of the funder opted to perpetuate the problem that they were supposedly addressing. This was particularly difficult challenge given that at the time I was based in Cornwall it was one of the poorest regions of the UK (Good luck with Brexit). In essence I refused most funding and opted instead to find way to self fund. This practice was largely influenced by the work and arts practices of Brendan Byrne. Besides along with #metoo we must also come to terms with #everybodyfuckingknew #jimmysaville (are you beginning to get the idea? (more to come I promise.))
This approach encouraged me to to take a far more community based approach to my arts practice and resulted in me setting up The Independent School of Art and Olive Branch Community Cafe.
The Life Doula
The Real Deal…
I actually give a shit about people.
Doulaing developed over a number of years as an extension of my community arts practice. Due to the nature of the socially vulnerable people I worked with I naturally became counsellor and coach. Outside of the community projects, in my private life, I increasingly became a sort of lay counsellor, with many people coming to visit me at home, essentially for a cup of tea and long chat about, life, the universe and everything. It was remarkable the impact that quality time, some undivided attention and some basic nurturance (A very basic home cooked meal) and often a bath (yes people can be that challenges even in the UK) could have on the well being of an individual facing crisis. It has been a practice I have upheld for many years now. On my move to South Africa formalised this skill by qualifying as an ICF Master Coach.