Finding an artist’s life.

Posted by Ivan Grieve on

I always wanted to be an artist, it was what I wanted to do when I was a teenager. I realised before it was too late, that there was nothing really stopping me. Everything is somehow surmountable, as someone very close to me often says “There is always a way”. Frightening yes, risky perhaps, lots of obstacles to overcome..most certainly. The barriers to the art would are strong but nebulous, it is like wrestling with Hydra the best tool is to have a burning desire.



When a  desire to make something during a particularly challenging time in my life came to the surface, I started making collage and pen and ink drawings of Moorish architecture. The subject matter was in itself a means, a method of managing the tumultuous times that I had been immersed in.


With an armful of rolled up pen and ink drawings tied with an old bit of ribbon il plucked up courage to ask to see a local gallery manager. “Use the the gallery as a work in progress a studio space….” Little did they know that the gallery walls covered in newspaper and then huge charcoal drawings. That people come and sit on the floor, play guitars or perform Mongolian Overtones, even the gallery hire was paid for by a kind visitor. This  need to resolve something using the only means I had, blossomed into my exhibition opportunities.

The decision to do a foundation course was to understand what is required of an art student who might attend an art school and what might be learnt at an art school. The art foundation courses seem to have an expectation that a  foundation art student will proceed to art school, this did weigh heavily on my mind.

With a first solo exhibition for a week under my occurred to me that I would need to get known locally.. The idea of open studios was almost a contradiction in terms. A vetting process to meet a panel and follow a prescribed route and talk to artists in the town. To try visit or make contact with some  local or established artists was far harder than one would imagine it to be.

The wrapping of a monument was about Obscurity, climbing a ladder, bureaucracy and finding a way around challenges. The delivery of the project was done at 3.30  in the morning on the opening day of the Open Studios  (as it happened my sister’s birthday and Bob Dylan’s birthday) It was in part about not being accepted or known expressing an upset, a failed funding application and further rejection. It was a quite a project in the end.


It seemed that the flame of restless creativity still burned, I scoured the checkout baskets and the empty supermarket trolleys where ever I went and begun to collect and sort out discarded shopping lists. The resulting show Human Detritus (2013)

Above all showed me the huge importance of true inclusivity in an exhibition as visitors were invited to pin shopping lists on the gallery walls alongside the works on show.

The work with found materials, had me intrigued and as a direct result I looked up on it and decided to meet with Peter Ward (

Some experimentation and another collage project Baltic Wharf… then a period of struggle with grief and  poor health.


The work on self portraits and the search for an understanding was particularly hard and from this exploration it was a period that was also cathartic.

The clouds rolled back and the seasons moved on, winter tipped in to Spring filled with promise and new energy and I wanted to enjoy the landscape that lay before me.


Thank you for reading and do ask or get in touch if you have any questions, more blogs and information to come.       




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