the life of an artist is never dull3 min read

// Kate Ireland

// Kate Ireland


How to begin this blog post… I could start by saying “the life of an artist is never dull”, or “routine is the enemy of creativity,” but neither statement feels particularly true. The life of a freelance artist is not always exciting and routine, though elusive, would be nice to have sometimes!

I arrive at this train of thought having just re-drafted my abstract for a second time as we seek to pitch it to formal education institutions.

My plan for the workshops, in simple terms, is to create a piece of work with a group of young people that allows them to imagine what an environment of true care, acceptance and safety looks, feels and sounds like. My point of entry is to address the intense loneliness and disconnection young people face, particularly in the post-covid landscape and exacerbated by stigma from older generations who assume Gen Z to be brain dead tik tokers. This simplicity, however, belies a much more complex set of questions. I speak to Lois, my connection at Peshkar, and as we pull at the threads of it all, the commission begins to grow itself.

I talk about my experience with ADHD and how I think approaching young people who are neurodiverse may be a useful focal point or streamlining the workshops. We talk through this and, inevitably, we catapult backwards into our own school days. I felt a deep sense of dysphoria and shame at school for the way my brain worked, always ticking away and unpicking the surface of my reality whilst everyone else seemed to just be able to float above it.

Only now have I come to address the long-lasting effects of masking my behaviours in order to assimilate with neuro-typical standards and the exhaustion I feel daily trying to keep up appearances. I’ve started treating my mind with self-compassion for the way it wanders, and this enables me to have a more empathic approach to facilitation. There is no binary code for participatory work. It is a fluid, unfixed process, continually in flux and in conversation with its environment.

Lois and I fix onto that word and start to play with it. I tell her that having ADHD makes me particularly sensitive to the environments in which I live, learn, and work; how I’m often existing in constant state of attentiveness; alertness; hyper-awareness and tasked with being “present.” She muses over how exhausting life can get with the extra (invisible) task of keeping a mask in place.

We pull apart my artistic vision of providing space to unmask and be unrestricted by bureaucratic standards and we conclude that its realisation lies in the process and methodology of facilitation. The product – which I intend to resemble an anthology of multi-disciplinary work – will be testament to its success, but it’s just one part of a wider look at the environment in which it’s created. We started off talking about making accessible art. At the end, Lois tells me I’m revolutionising the space.