Friday, 21 September 2012


Peter Glasgow reflects on his time as artist in residence for FORUM: UCCF's national CU leaders conference...

This year I was the Artist in Residence at UCCF’s FORUM conference - I held an exhibition of my work entitled “Dropstone” and spent the week interacting with the students who were there.  To be honest it was a bit of an up and down week - I think it’s ok to say that!  A lot of the time my expectations didn’t match up with reality and I wasn’t properly prepared for what it would be like exhibiting my work to a thousand students.  So I just wanted to share some of the lessons I learned and maybe something I say will prepare you for showing your own work and the challenges that brings. 

First of all - I simply wasn’t prepared for any sort of disappointment.  Being a final year Fine Art student I leap at any chance to show my work and having a full exhibition to myself sounded like the best deal in the world.  I didn’t realise that it’s pretty normal for artists to feel an anti-climax when they show their work.  After all, we put so much into it and we are passionate about what we do and it’s going to be disheartening when most people looking at our work don’t have the same level of enthusiasm.  Exhibiting is a hard experience and it’s ok to be disappointed or disheartened - I think If I’d have known that, I would have coped with the anti-climax better. 

I also wasn’t prepared for how vulnerable I’d feel with my work up, in front of a thousand people.  Now most of us believe in what we do and have confidence in our work, but it doesn’t take away the fact that showing your work makes you vulnerable.  As artists so much of who we are we put in our work and how that’s received by others.   At FORUM I was really helped by a friend who came alongside me and reminded me that as artists, when we show our work, we are serving others - and being a servant doesn’t always feel great.  I thought other people would be serving me - praising me for how good my work was - but actually I was meant to be serving them by sharing my art practice. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus has woven being a servant into what we do as artists.  So if you’re showing your work - prepare to feel vulnerable when you do that - thats normal! 

Finally when those feelings of disappointment and insecurity come, my first instinct is to wish that more people liked my work.  But actually that wouldn’t solve the problem and if I believe that I’m just going to keep working and working for the next big “success”.  No one is going to like my work enough to satisfy my desire for approval and validation.  So my only other option is to turn to my Heavenly Father and be satisfied that I am his child and He loves me - and my identity and worth is not shaped by my success as an artist.  Once I realised that I was free to have my work out there, trust God with the disappointments and enjoy the wonderful little conversations that I was able to have with students.  

So I hope you get an opportunity to show your work sometime soon, and maybe as you do that you might hit up against some disappointment, and I would just encourage you to keep going and to put your trust in our Creative, Loving and Wonderful Heavenly Father.    

Peter is going into his final year studying Painting at Wimbledon College of Art, London.  To see more of his work have a gander at his excellent blog