As I lay in bed last night it suddenly occurred to me that two years ago I was preparing to start a business with the help of the Princes Trust. Messy Miscreation began its life over the course of 2016 and if you had told me what I achieved in 2017, I would have laughed.
I ended 2016 with my first ever exhibition at the National Autistic Society’s 50E Gallery in early December but little did I know that things would accelerate into the new year as it did. In February I had two exhibitions practically back to back. The first was at Wolverhampton’s The Asylum where myself and a fantastic artist by the name of Ellis Sykes raised money for the mental health charity Mind.
It was an amazing opportunity for the both of us to share our work that discussed the same subject but in completely different ways. It was the first time I had shared an exhibition outside of university and I couldn’t have done it with anyone but Ellis. I hope I can get the chance to work with her again in 2018.
My paintings were only off the walls for a week before they travelled down to London for an exhibition in Shoreditch, London. During this time my travel anxiety was still a pain but I managed to make it on the train (and the horrifying experience they call the subway) with Timothy and the gang in a suitcase. I was able to stay for the open evening of the event where I met a lot of really interesting people and other artists.
It was certainly an eye opener but I was impressed I was able to make it happen. There was many occasions I was tempted to not attend due to anxiety but I pushed through and now have an experience to remember for years to come.
In April I was trying some new things and jumping into some unfamiliar territory. Firstly I had my work as part of an exhibition in Wales alongside other autistic artists. Sadly I wasn’t able to attend (We have plans for 2018 though) but I was able to see it all happen via social media.
Now that the gallery owner Brin has retired he now has the chance to work on the space and I’m excited to see it grow in the upcoming year.
I also got the chance to dabble in something new which was being on the radio which can be found on my post here: https://messymiscreation.com/2017/04/11/brum-radio-interview/
I April wanted to begin using creative writing as a medium to tell the stories of some of my earlier paintings. At exhibitions I had the chance to talk about those paintings but online they was just like any other image. I wrote four individual stories here on my website which included Timothy, Derek, Mary and Harold.
In May came mental health awareness week and in 2017 I wanted to do something to raise money for a charity. I gathered a group of artists to create an event by the name of “Piece of Mind” where we sold our artwork via an online store for three weeks for the charity Mind.
This was made up in such a short time with the help of a group of friendly artists and people willing to put in the time for a good cause. The store became a great way for us to not only get our artwork out into the world but do something to help in the process. You can find the final post here:
Together we raised £244 for Mind and this year I’m going to make the call again for artists to join me in Piece of Mind for 2018. I would really love to this become a thing annually to use the craft we love to help others like ourselves get the help they need.
June held the craziest experience (personally anyway) of all. I travelled with a helpful Kami by my side to Grimbsy where I hosted a talk at the Celebration of Autism event hosted by Focus. Not only this but my artwork would be exhibited at the venue alongside other artists on the autistic spectrum.
I actually stood up on a stage and talked to a crowd about my art for 45 minutes which looking back was crazy to me. When I started Messy Miscreation I never imagined I would get opportunities like this to get my work and story out there. This was a turning point for my confidence and I’m incredibly grateful to Focus for giving me the chance and also buying some of my work to have in their boardroom. (Still miss you Timothy)
While June had the craziest experience, July had the scariest. At the grand old age of 25, this autistic adult finally moved out his parents house to start his new life in Manchester with his girlfriend. I had plans in the works for Messy Miscreation but for several months I spent it searching for part time work (46 applications later and still no luck) to support us both but because of all the work I had been selling I have been able to stand on my own two feet for the time being.
From July through to October I was working on a project that I would be using for my final event of the year. In the summer I had been accepted to have an artist residency at The Horsfall in Manchester and I wanted to bring that project to life during that time. As the months passed the residency extended throughout all of November along with an exhibition of not only the ten created pieces but past work from over the course of 2017.
A big post on the Horsfall exhibition is still yet to come as I have a list of things to have complete before I can share it with you all. There should also be a round table event video to follow soon hosted during residency along with my good friend the artist, Jon Adams.
This year has been grand in scale compared to any year in my entire life. I’ve been all over the country and my work even more so. It occurred to me when talking about my paintings during my residency that certain paintings had travelled around and their imperfect, bumped up frames told those stories. Like any year 2017 had its ups and downs but for Messy Miscreation things have only been getting better and I still can’t get my head around that.
I know I should feel proud of what I have accomplished and deep down I do, but we know how your mental health can sometimes knock you out of sync at times. I may be ending the year feeling down but its hard to hide from all the success I have managed this past year and as I stumble into 2018 I only hope that things can improve.
As a final note I want to make it clear that all of this wouldn’t have happened without the constant love and support from a range of people around me. This goes from buying my work, Driving me across the country with frames stacked in the backs of your car, opportunities to get my work out there and so much more. I may have put my life into making this work but all you lovely people are what make this crazy dream possible so thank you for believing in a brightly coloured haired autistic man when he needed it most.
I hope your year was as good as mine, If not lets makes 2018 a great one.