All The Shitty Jobs I've Had.... June 05 2017
......and What They Taught Me About Art.
I read in National Australian Visual Art's blog the other morning that, perhaps unsurprisingly, Australian female artists on average earn a measly 24k per year. After the initial pessimism, this statistic made me realized how incredibly lucky I’ve been in my career. It also got me thinking about all the years of being broke and whether all those shitty casual jobs actually taught me anything about art, fortitude and work ethic.
Before my career started on an upward spiral in London, I worked at all sorts of crappy part-time jobs to pay the rent. Over the next week I’ll share with you 3 of the worst and what they taught me about my art practice:
The year was 1996 and I wound up working as a receptionist for a family GP practice in a suburb of Sydney that holds the dubious moniker of “God’s Waiting Room” due to the high proportion of elderly residents. Chatty and laughing with the patients was great, but sometimes innocent small talk about art and being an artist could turn into pulling teeth.
It always started with “Oh my grand-daughter is an artist!” – meaning the grand-daughter did one water colour class once. Sometimes a polite small talk ended with a sweet old lady turning feral and shouting “that’s not art!” about anything Abstract.
In hindsight, I was straight out of art school and was a total wanker when it came to talking about my own art practice. I felt like I had to complicate my language to sound intellectual and worthy at University. Through chatting to a lot of different people who usually thought their 3 year old great-niece could do a Picasso, I learnt how to explain what I do in layman’s terms which clarified and solidified my ideas. I’m now a big fan of “plain English”. I now have no hesitation admitting I don’t know why I choose a certain colour or did that weird bit of collage or that I don’t “get” another artwork…not everything has to mean something to you or me and it’s sometimes just instinctual.
This shitty job taught me the beauty of listening and understanding that art is different things to all sorts of different people and everyone has a valid opinion.