It will have been apparent to the faithful that we’ve been merely skipping across the surface and treading proverbial water for some time now. This has been for a number of reasons, not the least being a fundamental transition here at the Hideout.
Megsie sat back at the end of last year to take stock of where she was at and decided that it was finally time to drop out (stop the world I wanna get off!) and kick-start the workshop. It’s been 10 years since she graduated from the ANU Glass Workshop and she’s spent that time predominantly in arts admin (writing, curating, yadda yadda); 5 years in various capacities in Canberra and 5 years as Curator of the BVRG.
And while that decade has had many wonderful highlights, it nonetheless obliged her to endure what we all know is a tiresomely bureaucratic working culture riddled with innumerable insidious agendas. Given her extremely low tolerance of bullshit, hypocrisy, sycophancy and pretension one would have to agree that Megsie weathered the decade astonishingly well [we reckon she’s in the running for a purple heart for the last 5 years particularly. n(Ed)].
But, enough is enough. For someone who is not an arse-licker, local government and small town (largely amateur) art politics is nothing short of torture. It was certainly “less than ideal” a lot of of the time…
…and while another five years in the job would see her comfortably through to conventional retirement, there was also the danger that it would lead to a crises of faith.
“Being the bum boy of the local arts community in Bega wasn’t doing it for me, frankly”, she confided recently, “At the beginning I was on a mission to build the Gallery’s relevance and reputation, and that in itself was immensely satisfying. And there are aspects of the job that I genuinely loved. But by the fifth year it was difficult to ignore the BVSC’s very real ambivalence to the cause. They mouth, on cue, all the policy buzz words about the importance of the ‘creative industries’ and clamber with reactionary zeal aboard whatever happens to be politically trending at any given time (regardless of whether it’s appropriate for the region) but it was no secret that the majority of elected councillors thought that the Regional Library and Regional Gallery were the province of old fuddy duddies and genteel porcelain painters and really just a wasteful, indulgent drain on the ratepayers’ purse (well not quite but you get the drift). It was pretty exasperating.
“Between the policy pussy-stroking of arts apparatchiks and government (local, state and federal) and what I call ‘funding virga’ (those wisps of precipitation that evaporate before reaching the ground), it made for a very depressing work environment.
“And, yes, of course I’m aware that ‘the arts’ is an artificial construct – but I don’t want to be put off it completely! I’m interminably enthusiastic as a rule, but I need to believe in what I’m doing and, even more importantly, who I’m doing it with and/or for. If I’d stayed on any longer I was in danger of losing my regard for, and pleasure in, the arts altogether. ”
It was clearly time to set up a workshop practice while a glimmer of energy and enthusiasm still remained. “If I waited another 5 years before doing it, I might never have bothered. The other decider was Ginger’s graduation from Gold and Silver at the ANU last year – she too would need a studio for her emerging jewellery practice. It made sense to set up a dual entity.”
So it’s all coming together as we speak, which is a bit of a doo; Ginger’s is such a precision-based practice, while Megsie’s into industrial grunt. “People keep asking if the workshop’s ready yet, but of course it’s a wee bit more complex than that. If we were painters we’d just sweep the floor and set up an easel!”
One thing that has been holding us back is our moniker – we’ve been waiting for months for Ministerial approval for Prisoners of the Crown, which finally got the thumbs up last week. On the 11th of the 11th (which, being the anniversary of Ned’s hanging and already a red-letter day here at the Hideout, is wondrously prophetic.)
So we’re finally away. We’re going to wind up Glass Central Canberra and transfer our focus to Prisoners of the Crown – which will be a practice-based site as opposed to a survey of the broader scene. Glass Central Canberra will of course remain on-line as an archival resource, but it’s had its day as a live feed and we’ll be putting it to bed after a couple more ’rounding off’ posts.
The Prisoners of the Crown website is still being tinkered with, but if you fancy a sneak preview go here. Once properly launched, Ginger will be at the wheel of the Facebook page while Megsie oversees the blog. And while the central plot will obviously follow our own practices, we’ll also be working on all sorts of collaborative projects with some of our favourite peeps.