Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Brave New (filthy) World

Running on the spot at the speed of light, that's how my life feels at the moment. And typical of me, I spent my only day of leisure upgrading the blog! I'm glad, though, because I need a bit of neat and fresh these days.

It's lunchtime, and I'm sitting amongst piles of rubbish and bags of paper for recycling. I'm at art school, and I'm surveying my new domain. Ms Brent* has left, taken a voluntary redundancy, and I have been given the keys to the studio** and a looooong leash. Still dogsbody, but independent dogsbody, with room to move, breathe and work at my own pace and make changes as I want (within budgetary constraints).

My new boss, who works downstairs, is efficient, literate (she likes the same literature as I do, whereas Ms Brent is not a book reader), straightforward, and as generous as being overworked and underfunded can allow her to be. She has moments of being scary, but I think that's a good quality in a superior, because then you don't get tempted to take advantage of them. And she's actively encouraging me to get involved with the printmaking students and to be part of the staff 'team', something Ms B actively discouraged. No more skulking through the corridors through groups of students I don't know.

Happy! Well, I'll be a lot happier once I've cleaned up the mess that Ms Brent left behind. I have to do a physical clean-up, then stocktake all leftover materials and artworks, making an archive of some of the latter and returning the rest to their respective artists. I have to finish a couple of printing projects, and then I can start a fresh page, so to speak.

So here I am, chucking shite, sweeping, scraping her name off the door and humming merrily to myself because she took the bloody stereo with her. It feels like a divorce. She comes in after hours and takes her stuff, and I come in next morning to find it gone. Lots of undercurrents and negotiations. So sweep! sweep! shred! chuck! Out with the old! Make it something new! huzzar!

[coughing from all the dust]

*Real names, of course, can't be used, but she reminds me (as I'm mentioned before) so much of David Brent (platitudes, mangled metaphors and even a CD of her singing bad covers) that this shall be her tag. Better than 'ex boss'.
**The studio is a lovely space where books and editioned prints are made. I will call it the 'BS' from now on because if I write it longhand, it makes the name of the space, and I don't really want to be too obvious about this. After fighting for independence over the last ten years, the space has now reverted back to being part of a bigger department, whilst maintaining its purpose and identity. I don't think it's a bad thing, which is why I'm sticking around.

Postscript: I feel, after sleeping on it, that I should explain a bit more about my relationship with Ms Brent. It's a bit complicated, in that I like her in many ways. She's a brilliant artist, and will be known one day as one of Australia's best and most innovative printmakers. She's a good friend when she wants to be. She would be the first to admit that she's a total workaholic, and this is what will send her all the way to the top. But like all driven people, she expects a lot from her workers, her family, her friends and her art. I've spent the last three years giving her my best, and I know she appreciates this. She just drives me nuts, and this separation of our working and personal relationship is tricky. But exciting. We are still working together on a catalogue at the moment, so there's three levels existing at the same time: breaking off a relationship of boss/underling, continuing work as client/service provider, and maintenance of friendship with many shared experiences. Is it any wonder I'm confused?

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