I wanted to call this post “are you taking the piss?” but thought it might detract from the actual thing I wanted to talk about.
I’m having an ongoing battle to get my paintings into a studio. Here is the timeline so far:
- December 2010: Started to put paintings into their shop. Paintings sell well throughout the next year.
- March 2011: Get told that people have been asking about me and my paintings.
- July 2011: Get a commission from someone through the gallery.
- July 2011: Decide the time is ripe to apply to be completely represented by the gallery.
- August 2011: Get rejected by the ‘panel of artists’. Feel completely bemused and angry and lost.
- August 2011: Get told by one of the directors (I shall call her Magda) that I should have been accepted, she continues to support and help me.
- October 2011: Accept “mentoring” from an “Artist” at the gallery. This woman hasn’t painted before in her life. Meeting is insulting and patronising. Decide to give up with the gallery for now and try to gain confidence in my paintings again.
- January 2012: Magda says she’ll help me apply again so I go to meet with her. Find out that another artist applied with me and the directors overturned her rejection from the panel of artists. Next day I receive an email meant for someone else at the gallery ABOUT ME. And it wasn’t all roses and kittens.
So. Where do you begin? I certainly don’t know. I have been so harmed by this organisation when all I wanted was to put my paintings on their walls. I have not done anything to harm them, to threaten them, and I’ve repeatedly been caught in the crossfire of an organisation that is imploding. The politics and infighting has unfortunately got a victim and at this point in my life I could do without it. Even when people are friendly to my face that does not mean they will not harm me at some point.
It really is taking the piss.
This email revealed that Magda thinks I am difficult, stubborn and unwilling to compromise. She described me as “clinically sensitive”, whatever that means and said I am “obsessed” with painting my chosen way (what painter isn’t?) There was probably more stuff but I can’t be bothered going over it again.
I assume that this has happened to everyone in the past: to find out directly what someone is saying about you to someone else. It’s happened to me too but never in such a serious circumstance. I can’t deny it doesn’t hurt but my reaction was surprising. At first I laughed, then I felt bemused, then I felt angry and hurt, but after a cry I accepted it. I explained how it made me feel and about my depression.
Her reaction was a bit more extreme. I got many emails throughout the day apologising, saying she was going to resign, saying it was the worst thing she’s ever done, she’s going reevaluate how she sounds when she talks about people, she had to go for a walk to calm down, she’s probably going to wallow in the humiliation… It went on for a while. I thought I was supposed to be the sensitive one?
It did shock me the flippant, callous way she made judgements and was freely willing to discuss these with someone else. She has barely talked to me and she certainly doesn’t know me well enough to make these kind of judgements (most were wrong) It made me think about how often we’re so thoughtless at the way we cast judgements at others. How we think or say things because we know (or hope) that that person will never hear it.
What if they did?
What kind of hurt would we cause? Is it justified? Maybe we should go a little easier on other people, stop the judgmental thoughts. After all we don’t know anything about their lives, their suffering.
Or just make sure if you do say these things in email form, that you don’t send it to the person you’re talking about.