12 March 2020

Have you ever asked the universe for anything? 

  Last year a friend told me to ask the universe for what I wanted, and it would happen! Now I would describe myself as a realist, some may say sceptic, so I was more than a little doubtful, but I thought I might just look into this whole ‘law of attraction’ business.   The main rules as I understood it were to first decide what it is that you want, which is much trickier than you might think, then ask for it, believe it will happen then let go and allow the universe to work it’s magic! It’s not quite as simple as that but I knew that I wanted a successful career as an artist and for my work to do something, to have a positive effect, to question and improve wellbeing both for myself and those around me. I believed it was possible and things began to happen…   Since my chat with the universe I’ve had two solo shows in major Northwest galleries - at Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool and The Harris, Preston; my first public art commission was recently unveiled, with another in the pipeline, and all sorts of other upcoming exciting projects and commissions.   As I mentioned before, it’s important to allow things to flow, allowing what you are attracting to come to you even though you might not know what it is or how it may impact on you.   One such encounter came about last autumn when I visited the wonderful world of Venture Arts to talk about a project they were planning in my hometown of Blackpool (Conversations Series II - Other Transmissions) and find out more about what they did, with whom and why.   I left Venture Arts very excited at the prospect of working with them to find a group of artists in Blackpool with learning disabilities who would make work for an exhibition at Grundy Art Gallery, forming part of Venture Arts’ Conversation Series II Project. As I drove home that day, something really struck me; I was really surprised by the quality of work the Venture artists were making, the research & development, the collaborations and the platforms where their work was being seen. Why was I so surprised? Basically, because I had gone, albeit unknowingly, with preconceived ideas of what an artist with learning disabilities does, how they do it and what they can achieve. An important lesson learned!   Since November 2019 I have been working with an incredible group of artists; Daniel, Jemma, Chloe, Dawn, Sam, Justin and Kirsty and supported by the amazing staff; Anna, Wendy, Neil, Mandy and Dave at The Langdale Centre in Blackpool, a community-based daytime service for adults with a learning disability.   The group were part of an ongoing weekly art programme, so the creativity was already flowing! My aim was to help develop their own individual practices into something that became theirs, something they owned and didn’t rely on others to access it, just as my practice is to me.   Some of the group such as Daniel [work in progress artwork pictured below], Jemma and Justin already had strong, established ways of drawing so for them, sessions have been about exploring materials, process and scale to expand their practice -  something that has brought them excitement and confidence in their work. Other Transmissions: Conversations with Outsider Art at the Grundy Chloe’s work includes photography, drawing, painting and collage so with her it’s been about focusing in on certain elements and exploring them further, something she is relishing.   Dawn, Sam and Kirsty have all found their voice through experimenting with materials and process. Dawn with her autobiographical drawings on fabric and paper, Sam developing floral inspired sculptures from her series of poppy paintings and Kirsty who navigates her experiences by writing lists of names and abstract forms. All 3 of them are so eager to make their work.
Artist in 'Conversation' Jan 2020. Photo: Claire Griffiths Images.
Artist in 'Conversation' Jan 2020. Photo: Claire Griffiths Images.
  As part of the Conversations Series II project, Venture Arts arranged for us to visit them in Manchester, to meet some of their artists, see their work and find out more about what they do. They also took us to the Whitworth, The University of Manchester to see some of The Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection. A very inspirational day!   Our second trip was to the Grundy Art Gallery to see the Open Exhibition and the space where our show was going to be. The group explored the incredible range of works by local artists, documenting what they responded to through photography and drawings.   It’s very difficult to express what this project means to me, partly because I have a maximum word count to stick to! It has been the most joyful time with the most amazing group of people. I have learned so much from them, been inspired by them and it’s developed my personal practice in ways I hadn’t expected. I hope that the group have got as much from it as I have, and I look forward to both our exhibition in March and whatever comes next!   All that’s left is to say thank you; thank you to Venture Arts for asking me to be part of this amazing project, thanks to the artists and staff at The Langdale for all your work and support, to Paulette and the team at the Grundy for their support and last but in no way least…thank you universe x BLOG | Artist Tina Dempsey talks about 'Conversations' with the universe! Tina's work [pictured] can be see at Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool as part of Conversations Series II - Other Transmissions, 7 - 21 March 2020. Please check Grundy Art Gallery for opening times and related events.  
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