So it's time for a review of how the Testbeds process has been for me at the halfway stage, 6 months in.
It's been very good. I've met some great artists on the scheme, engaged with the great place that Luton is, and been supported in the process of a root and branch reflection of my practice.
This has included:
Reconsidering the public face of my work, revising my social media, making a logo, updating my website (still going); making two new pieces of work, learning how to operate a drone and a 360 degree camera; reflecting on my practice - process, scale and audience; commissioning artworks, music and puppets; showing works in progress, talking about them; reflecting on my teaching practice, and writing a bunch of blogs with more planned.
Of course there's more to come, the next six months are about film-making, virtual reality, immersive and outdoor work, funding applications, conferences, more performance making and showing, and getting back to teaching at the end of the summer. And that's only the stuff I know about.
When prompted to reflect on the halfway stage of this process, it bought to mind the opening of Dante's 'Inferno'
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
And I started to think more broadly about the curious intersection of various midpoints I find myself at right now. I am:
Midway though the process (at six months).
Midway through my artistic career and teaching (at 15/20 years).
Midway through my life (at 41).
Of course these are all arbitrary 'midways', and while Testbeds is halfway through, my life and work might go on for much longer (or shorter) than I realise. However there is a distinct advantage to be taken at getting to the mid-career/life zone. I feel somewhat liberated to do things the way I want, and to feel a kind of self determined authority in doing so. I don't need to make the work that I or anyone else expects of myself. I can just make the next project I want to.
In the middle of a journey you can look back at how far you've come, you can change course, you can make the place you've paused your destination, or you can keep going further than you've expected - and you don't need to do just one, I think I'm doing all of these.
From the centre of the Forest. That's all.
I'm in the photo, hiding. It's kind of like a Where's Wally picture that you can't win.