Often, an artist’s help doesn’t look like artist’s help at all. In fact, it sometimes looks like disaster. Selling problems, creative integrity slips, even having your studio reduced to smoking cinders – whatever the setback, it can be an outward reminder to turn inward and rise from the ashes in a spectacular new way.

Reflections on obstacles.
You always come across setbacks in your career. You come across blockages in your activities in the studio when things are not quite working right and this can be very unnerving, unsettling. At the same time, these occurrences can open doors for a new process of working.
When you’re having an exhibition of new work and it doesn’t sell – that can be difficult. Again, I would have to talk about relativity. It’s tough if you don’t sell work at an exhibition, especially if you put a lot of time and money into the show. But that really pales in significance when compared to being dealt a bad hand when you least expect it. In 1983 had a horrific fire in my studio. This fire managed to destroy approximately seven or eight years of artworks, including paintings drawings and prints. At the time this was a huge setback to my career because I simply had no work left and most of my documentation of the work was burned as well. I did learn a great lesson from that experience, in that it awoke in me a desire to get to know myself on a deeper level, and for that I will always be grateful. It helped to put me on a path, and I have never looked back.
Other setbacks include the feeling that your work is heading in a direction that encourages people to categorize you. I do my best to jump out of those categories, to keep my freedom of expression by shifting into different media and styles.
The public’s response to my work with found objects has often been a challenge for me. Some people are uncomfortable or over demonstrable when they see me walking along the beach collecting rubbish because of their own positive or negative projections. They sometimes have an external reaction or projection, purely being a very personal response of their own to seeing this activity.
Most of the time for me, it was as though I were doing performance art. In fact, collecting rubbish was my daily meditation.
For the last few years I haven’t been so actively collecting plastics, as my work continues to grow in different directions and shift emphasis. I’ve just allowed that next shift to happen. It’s been quite interesting to feel the open doors and find myself moving through them, into something new.
Cynicism by viewing audiences always feels like an obstacle, one that can pull you away from your centre. The challenge is returning to your centre, going deep to find your truth. And you can only get there by going inward. So for the most part, in my experience, setbacks are really opportunities, or blessings in disguise.

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