We asked artist Aidan Moesby to tell us a bit about how mentoring and support has impacted on his development as an artist.
“Mentoring has been key to my developing a professional arts practice that sustainable and which continues to develop. In 2010 I joined the Art House in Wakefield, an organisation for artists which specialises in disability and diversity. I received my first mentoring here. It was mostly about the skills outside of the making of art, such as how to read a brief properly and how to write proposals. There is so much around having a career as an artist that is not necessarily to do with making art and quite often we, as artists, are not aware of this or have the skilllsets.
Through the Art House I met Kerry Harker, now co-director of The Tetley, Leeds. At this point I would say I didn’t really have a coherent ‘art practice’. I made art, exhibited occasionally, ran workshops and the usual portfolio of activities artists find themselves doing. Kerry questioned me about my practice, why do I make art, what does my statement say about me, what do I want my work to do, where do I want to be in a year or 3 or 5 years. We engaged in critical dialogue, we looked at practical things like how to present a CV – always questions and dialogue – never telling or doing it for me. That’s not to say she doesn’t offer advice.
Following from acquiring skills of not only how to read a brief but how to respond appropriately to a brief I applied for the Everyone residency at Dundee Contemporary Arts, as part of engage Scotland’s Everyone Project. This was the break-through opportunity I had been looking for – a professional disability arts opportunity in a mainstream organisation (as most disability arts tends to be marginalised). I was then able to use this experience as leverage for my next opportunity. The most notable feature of this residency on a practical basis was that the Access requirements and needs around managing certain conditions was locked in from the start of the design process of the residency – not retro-fitted as a reaction to what happens. This makes a major difference as an artist on residency. Indeed the Unlimted Research and Development Award I am currently working on works in a similar way as did my recent residency at The Tetley – where the residency was co-designed with me and considered specific needs from the start. This allows you to make the best possible use of your time and therefore, hopefully, the best possible work.
With Unlimited I am trying to develop a new way of working – to push my practice – so I have a mentor around specific issues to do with this and is short term and focussed. This has it’s benefits – and even within this time limited framework the process is still two –way. It is a dialogue. We both bring our own experiences and views and meet in the middle. We have met in person but also on skype. This mentoring has a much more peer t peer aesthetic compared to working with Kerry at The Tetley. Having worked with Kerry over a number of years I like the consistency. I am at a completely different place from when we first met. We now don’t meet as often but we try to tie in some development time and reflective time after big projects and draw the next map into the unknown.
The mentoring relationship is constantly evolving as my needs as an artist change. What I do know is I can now look at my work and think – yes, my work is about this, I make work in response to …,, I can talk critically about my work and have a much more focussed approach. I know I am where I am because of the mentoring experiences acting as a catalyst.”
Image: Hang on, it’ll be ok
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