One of the most powerful women in the UK Arts gave me something I couldn’t buy

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It must have been our third meeting. Every so often Jude would make a point of meeting her artists in residence. People she had brought into the SouthBank Centre to act as viruses — to infect people with what they did. They included Shlomo, Lemn Sissay etc.

I was thrilled the first time of asking and having walked the Southbank’s corridors — downstairs is a wonderful labyrinth — and spoken to comms and a few other residence, I would meet with Jude again.

I still had self doubt. Not in what I did. I have always considered what I do with video and texts, as the equivalent of pulling legs of a Daddy long legs — when I was young of course. But that same zeal for experiments and wondering why would see me through a chemistry lab and a degree, and then conflict zones as a reporter.

But now I was being gently mentored into self-discovery, relinquishing self-doubt, of as Guillaume Apollinaire’s poem says, being pushed of the edge and hopefully flying.

“I’m not sure I am an artist”. I remember me saying this, for the answer it elicited.

Jude’s words were: “let me worry about that!”

Being a journalist and an artist seemed irreconcilable. Journalists processed. Artists conceived. Journalist sought closure. Artists were not phased by ambiguity. Indeed this space was where dialogue continued.

But I felt an imposter syndrome, However, gradually and slowly, my doubts resided. Each piece I made seemed to be a self affirmation. There was also a doubly whammy. I was studying a PhD, with the method of reflective practitioner shaping how I would tell those listening about the intersection between journalism and art, or even cinema specifically.

There was no stricture, no agenda for our residency. If you had a plan, it was in the interest of all to share. I made several shorts, such as this one — shot in real time in one go, and reinserting the cuts afterwards.

And then this montage of fragments from Collission

Years later, I look back on that discussion with the fondest of memories. That, how the confidence of one of the UK’s most powerful women in the Arts, what she did and what she said, would reframe me.

There is no such thing as art, only artists and it is a moniker given by others. If anything it’s a cap of selflessness, and a drive to continually question what we do and how we make that we come into contact with yield questions, sometimes uncomfortable ones. Just like Jude to me and for that, I’m very, very grateful.

You can view a site I put together in 2010 about Collision, Jude Kelly CBE, Founder of the WOW Festival. Collision was this extraordinary event in which artists could name anyone they wanted to spend a fortnight colliding. I chose Mark Cousins an extraordinary filmmaker and critic, who left me with this legacy.

Written by

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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