Time was I would scour the country for exhibitions of interest, and would leap into the car and off I would go. The Devon Guild gallery in Bovey Tracey is about two and a half hours away, but that was no object. Indeed, unless it was the height of summer, the route was an enticement in itself.
The beautiful Wiltshire countryside - image from here.
With a friend I had driven three hours and some to Bury St Edmund to see a prestigious Art Textiles exhibition, a similar distance to Manchester for another such show, to Sheffield, ... etc. etc.
It is true that the traffic was considerably lighter in those days - the '80s through to the early '00s - but I realise that gradually over that time, and much more now my needs have altered too. To begin with I was still working in publishing, mostly on overseas projects with gaps of weeks, and sometimes months in between, so I was free on any day of the week to buzz off wherever I wanted. Then when I started becoming more interested and serious about textiles I was constantly on the lookout for education and inspiration.
The intense years of virtual housebound caring for my mother acted as a kind of full stop. The need for intellectual stimulus was certainly still there, and so I began to add more concentratedly to my collection of books.
I realise that I have been immensely fortunate in being able to see a very wide range and quantity of art over my life, and although I still derive joy from seeing original work, I am becoming more picky about where I spend my time - but also conscious that my time is increasingly limited.
Of course wanting to concentrate more on thinking about and making my own work is the overwhelming consumer of my time, but I am delighted to say that I derive enormous stimulus and even excitement from the ever-improving exhibition catalogues from large museums and galleries. And the Internet also contributes through such bonuses as I think of them as the weekly roundup email from the Goldmark gallery, and excellent blog posts such as Eirene's on the Anselm Kiefer woodcut exhibition on in Vienna at present.
It is remarkable how much high quality stimulus I still receive while spending most of my days being able to get on with work at home. This solution is much more time-efficient, as well as saving me money - a catalogue is far cheaper than travelling. And somehow the exhibitions I do choose to visit have become even more meaningful.