Cold Hard Cash


Image by Emma Louise Pratt, for Art All Magazine February 2011

February, 2011

Last night I started to feel cold. Despite the heating and my jacket that was still on, I felt a chill. And my eyeballs hurt. And various points on my body. Soon to be my ENTIRE body. At the end of the evening’s teaching, I tumbled into the back of a taxi and mumbled my address. Seven minutes later, still in my jacket, I was tucked under a rug on the couch, willing someone to come and wipe my face, brush my teeth, go to the loo for me and put me in bed.

You know, I never saw my mum tucked up sick on the couch when I was little. I’m pondering this because a small person who, after creating a mess in every room she had entered, found a hard object and began to bang it on all hard surfaces mercilessly, before finding an empty yogurt container from the plastic recycling bin (how the hell did she get in there?) and running her yogurty little sausage fingers all over the table top while singing her favourite made up song which goes like this:

Bula-bula, bula-bula, bula-bula, bula-bulaaaa.

Her Grandmother was born in Suva , but that has nothing to do with it.

I groan and get up to deal with it all. I had been planning to write a proposal for CNZ funding this week as part of a tight schedule mapped out for a show next year. I had held out few hopes for it being successful, and now my hopes have faded even more with the state of my aching head. My exhibition partner, believing themselves jinxed when it comes to CNZ, wants nothing to do with it. I am less superstitious and more realistic. There are lots of artists out there with lots of proposals that are far sexier.

Ain’t nothing sexy about me this morning. I lie back on the couch and think I need to get off again and need clean that child, or I could ignore her, be a bad mother and continue to feel sorry for my sickly self and my artistic lot. The latter I think. Hmm, settle in, now where were we? Ah yes, talking about money, money, money – what we artists do a lot of.

I am getting cynical. The newspaper was reporting this week on an artist whose work, showing in the Reina Sofia Museum , was a strong criticism of Capitalism. Boo Capitalism! I read cynically between the lines that the artist was also seen rubbing his hands happily at his success and wondering about the commissions, sales to important collections and increased investment value that would be following. Hooray Capitalism!

That said, not every young swag gets to show their work in the museum patronised by our own dear Queen Sophie – a lovely lady. I hear the Royal Family are quite Socialist, which is an interesting idea. One they can ponder this summer while on their yacht, which is getting a little shabby apparently and wants replacing. To which the Spanish people wearily oblige. They’re quite fond of them really. They did facilitate Spanish democracy after all. And ones representative Familia Real can’t be seen out and about in the Mediterranean on some second hand bucket. Where’s the national pride?

Enough. Right, I WILL clean that child – she is looking grubby, in that Dickens-snotty-nosed-kid kind of way (Please sir, I want some more). And I WILL get on to that funding proposal, despite having theorised myself into a metaphysical corner about art making and my art making in particular. Way too much reading, too little art-making. Though I will say, I was happy to get my new boards the other day, and was sanding down the stucco I had applied on them to a smooth chalky finish. Ohhhh, I get excited just writing about it, I’ve drawn and painted on those boards a thousand times already in my head, that white surface is so tantalising, theoretical misgivings about arts practice aside.

Unfortunately, a part of my brain pinched while I admired my boards in their chalky white glory. The Presbyterian part I think – or my Methodist grandfather, God rest his soul, observing from the other side, hands in the pockets of his high belted trousers, “Now that’s a big heavy board, how much is that shipping going to set you back?” Crickey dick Granddad, hand me those CNZ funding forms.

Actually my grandfather would never have handed me any Creative New Zealand funding forms, he would have poo-pooed the whole scheme, declaring that a hard rainy days work on the farm is what all those bloody over-educated idiots needed, and that I needed to roll up me shirt sleeves and not depend on anyone else. Then he would have probably have said what are you making pictures for anyway? Bloody waste of time.

But that’s another story. Meanwhile, I still make a meagre living and need to get work home. So I must court the money, sex it all up. Gotta give it a go.

It’s time for more cold and flu drugs I think. Clara is still singing her song, wobbling her head along. So I join in from my sad state on the couch and we sing together:

Bula-bula! Bula-bula! Bula-bula! Bula-bulaaaa!

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