If at first you don’t succeed, extend the deadline. #bolamat50+1

Bolam101 graphics v1.026

I have very mixed feelings after the end of my 50th retrospective year. As I have already said, some aspects were highly successful and some were dismal failures, and I left a lot of things that I planned to do unfinished.

So, if you don’t achieve everything that you wanted to achieve in only one year, what do you do? Easy, take ten years and claim that’s what you intended to do all along.

With hindsight (and brutal honesty) I never really expected to achieve everything I wanted within the one year when I was 50 years old. Counter-intuitively, the anti-climax was not at the end, but at the beginning. Having already spent nearly two years preparing, I suffered an energy dip after the launch event and didn’t attack the project as I had intended during the year itself.

A few months after the end of the project, it seems obvious what to do next. Instead of finishing the project after the 50th year, I will just continue. After all, I am still “at 50”. Or more accurately, “at 50s”.

There has been so much spin off from the project I have decided to just continue the project until I am 60 (if I make it) as there is more than enough existing material and new stuff to fill the next nine-and-a-half years.

I knew I would not do everything I had planned but the only thing I consider to be a real failure is not making the 12 issues of “Catalogue,” which was the most important publication of the entire project. It’s too late for me to get that done on time so I am still going to publish the whole 12 issues (plus one) over the next year (or so).

Stand by, there is much more to come…

Retrospective: re-imagining the past

In 2004 I went to Edinburgh to see the major retrospective show “Paolozzi at 80” at The Dean Gallery. Eduardo Paolozzi was a major early influence and, although his work is shown regularly, it is rare to see so much of it together.

Reviews of the show:

It was a very good show and upstairs was a gallery of “early work” including some juvenilia as well as a drawing of himself aged 11. The drawing is listed in the catalogue as “Self-portrait c.1935, Pencil and blue crayon on paper.” Paolozzi has signed it but the title has been added by a curator at sometime later once he had become an established artist. I could’t help feeling this is slightly ridiculous, it’s just a child’s drawing, but it led me to reassess my own work as the output of a whole life rather than suppressing the early doodles, the naive cul-de-sacs and the embarrassing failures, and only concentrating on the more successful and mature “serious” stuff.

Above is a self-portrait of mine from 1988.

As a result, I have decided to catalogue and publish my entire life’s output (so far), warts and all. Well, not absolutely everything, but a representative catalogue from childhood through to maturity. I have been very productive (on and off) although most of my work has never been seen. I will be 50 in 2014 and need to make a start.