What happened last week? Well, good question. Last Thursday was the 6th edition of Art Ache, and instead of my usual role as representative of the Print Room (Art Ache’s official Fine Art print sponsor), I unpacked some of my own artworks and headed down to Golden Dawn to peddle my wares as an artist and Art Acher - aka H C Clegg.
Nepotism you ask? Well, not really. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts, have exhibited nationally, been published in Art New Zealand magazine, and had an emerging artist award from the NZAAT. So apart from being from the manager of the Print Room, I am also clearly an artist in my own right (although I still struggle with that description of myself at times).
Which brings me to Art Ache. It’s a very different experience being on the other side of the fence, and I can honestly say that the past few weeks have been a combination of nervousness, excitement, and outright fear - something I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling in the run up to any big show.
Fear you ask? Yes fear. Fear of failure is probably the biggest thing that I grapple with as an artist, and the biggest killer of creativity known to man. It has been almost a year since my last show, and it’s been a rollercoaster, a year of feeling of down in the dumps about my art - “what’s the point?”, “why bother making anything?”, “what does it matter?”, “who even cares?” - questions undoubtedly a lot of artists ask themselves from time to time. Art is personal to the artist and no matter how hard you try to separate it, it remains personal. It is an expression of yourself, which gives it a lot of emotional power. It has taken me a while to realise that those nagging self-doubt questions are really coming from a place of fear, a fear that causes the most unhealthy procrastination and avoidance of self realisation, as well as this crippling notion that I am perhaps not able to top what I’ve done before. It isn’t always the easiest thing to admit, especially when we live in a society that seems to accept with far more ease the polished, incomplete versions of ourselves we project via mediums such as facebook and the like (you know what I’m talking about).
This leads me back to Art Ache. Casey wrote last week on the blog about movements like Art Ache creating a middle ground for art ‘know-nothing-at-alls’ like herself “to slowly familiarise myself with art, artists, and the whole art scene”. Art Ache has also helped me realise my need for a middle ground as an artist - a perfect step between investing hours of time, energy, and money into a solo exhibition in a gallery, and sitting at home not putting my work out at all there because I’m frozen by the fear of not doing it right.
So taking myself (and my fear) along to the relaxed, indie, European-inspired courtyard of Ponsonby’s Golden Dawn, emptying out my cupboards of all the previously unsold art, engaging with a brand new audience for my work, and receiving so many positive responses, was quite simply...awesome. It was what I needed as an artist - a positive confirmation that what I’m doing is good and that people do enjoy it, to the point where they’ll even part with their hard earned cash to be able to put it up in their living rooms/bedrooms/kitchens. A not-so-scary middle ground and a kick up the butt to carry on, and make sure I don’t let the success I’ve enjoyed in the past fall by the wayside and also, to keep pursuing my dream, as hard as it may be, because god knows the path is not laid out at all…
I will leave you with the words of Lars Jerlach; “even during those tough moments of discouragement or the obligatory creative weakness, try your utmost not to make failure a consistent state of mind.”
Thank you Aimee Ralfini and thank you Art Ache. May there be many more of these events to come!
- Helen Clegg is the manager of the Print Room and a photographic artist - view her portfolio