Monday, 1 January 2018

Self care for artists

It can be quite easy to get swept along by the (usually hectic) life of an artist. Consequently, self care may be neglected. Working as an independent artist can be emotionally, physically, mentally and financially challenging. It is important that artists working with material that is often highly emotive, sometimes raw and physically and/or psychologically exhausting, have support networks and systems in place.

In her Checklist of Self care, Sheila Ghelani sets out some things to consider:

Will engaging in this activity / event / performance / ‘act’ be nourishing and full of care towards:

Will I be looked after?

Will I get paid?

If travelling where will I sleep? What will I eat? When will I eat?

Will I be fed or is it self-catering? Will I get per diems?

Will I feel safe?

Who will I be hanging out with?

Can I bring someone with me?

If something goes wrong who do I contact and what is my exit strategy?

Do I have any special health needs at the moment and will they be catered for?

Have I informed anyone connected to the activity about these needs?

Will there be any language barriers? How can these be overcome?

Am I insured - health, belongings, public liability

Have I got a contract?

What press / PR will I be expected to do and does this feel ok?

How does this activity / event / performance / ‘act’ align with my politics & beliefs?

Where is the funding coming from?

What’s the overall environmental cost?

What do I know about the location / area in terms of human rights / politics?

What do I know about the organisation?

After the event:

Has this activity had an impact on my politics & beliefs?

Do I feel ok about the parts of myself I've revealed during the course of the activity? And if not, what do I need to do to make this ok again?

Have I learnt anything new about the common themes of my practice (e.g. Visibility/Invisibility)

How does this align with my overall life?

Where am I 'at' at the moment?

Will this activity be helpful in terms of my overall life aims (whatever these happen to be at any given moment and if such 'aims' are actually achievable in the first place)?

Or will this be a distraction?


Who will my audience be?

Is what I’m doing accessible (in terms of language, non-arts audiences, for those who are visually impaired, are wheelchair users / have limited mobility, are D/deaf or hard of hearing)?

If not, why not? And how can I overcome this.

How can I be a good guest (reciprocity)?

What will I be leaving behind afterwards, both literally and in terms of legacy?

Are those I’m working with being looked after too (pay, accommodation, per diems, well being).

Do they have any special needs?

Could I employ local people instead of bringing others with me?

Who should I try to make contact with whilst I am in the area and what’s the mutual benefit?

Flora & Fauna:

Are the materials I’m using good for the environment?

What about after I’ve left? What will I be leaving behind?

What about the travel? Is the environmental cost worth it?

Society in General:

What is the long-term message of what I’m conveying?

Have I checked all of my language and actions to ensure I’m being inclusive?

Am I reaching outside of my everyday circle of peers/friends? If not, why not?

If conflict/debate is impossible to avoid, what is the best way to deal with this?

Am I self-censoring my own practice to fit in? And if so, why? Is this the right thing to do in the particular context I'm working in? If not, what should I do?

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