Monday, January 18, 2010
The last six months have been hard.I've been laid low with illness. My commitment not to exhibit this year and instead, to re-organise my studio so that it might better manage the increasing demand for my work had a serious, end-of-year financial impact and left me with with a backlog of unfinished commissions. Opportunities turned bad, relationships soured. I was left disillusioned and plagued with self-doubt.Collectors and acquaintances urged me to try to see the positive in all this. I got so tired of their encouragement that I stopped answering my phone and responding to emails. I couldn't even be bothered to update this blog. For the first time in my life, I thought about giving up art. To make sure I didn't do anything rash, I set off on a long road trip to where I grew up, the barren, empty country of northern New South Wales, just my dog and me and the last of my savings.Several hundred miles along the desolate back-country blacktop that took me deep into my past, I began to regain some clarity. Things had become intolerably hard, yes, but I saw that my overwhelming desire for independence, especially from a system that had ground me down a hell of a lot more often than it had lifted me up, had driven me to achieve a degree of self-sufficiency and success unprecedented for a young artist. The risks I'd taken for what I believed in had benefitted me and the people who'd supported my work, even if it had pissed off the local art world's old guard.It was only when my commitment faltered – when I backed down, compromised or, worse, was too eager to please – that the seeds of trouble were sown. My redemption lay in being even more insistent, not less, on doing things my way.In just the last few days, I've crawled out of a mire of depression, anger, debt, a long-standing gallery dispute and a creative dead-end. I'm not out of trouble yet. I still have some serious health issues to contend with and a lot of work (and debt) to clear. But I'm not conceding an inch. If anything, I'm going to be even more determined, ruthless and 'difficult'. I've broken free of the stultifying control of the traditional gallery system and I'm not going back.