Join me in welcoming London based artist and author, Marie-Anne Mancio
Marie-Anne Mancio trained as an artist before gaining a D.Phil from the University of Sussex for her thesis Maps for Wayward Performers: feminist readings of contemporary live art practice in Britain. She has lectured on art and architecture for The City Literary Institute Tate Modern, The Course, Art in London, and many private art societies on subjects as diverse as The Victorians; Russian Modernism 1900-30;The Femme Fatale; Love, Marriage and Desire in Art; Caravaggio and Redemption. She has written for several art publications and is fluent in Italian and French. Since attaining an MPhil (Distinction) in Creative Writing from Glasgow University, her art practice has become primarily text based.
Q & A
From where do you draw inspiration?
I draw inspiration from real stories. It could be a document like a diary entry or a letter or something I overheard on the subway.
What is the hardest thing about your creative process?
The hardest thing is to keep persisting. There are always good excuses for not making work – you’re too busy, too tired, it’s not good enough, no-one will want to read it anyway…. but somewhere in there is the fear that if you do actually finish something and put it out there, there is a possibility people won’t like it.
Do you work every day, or only when inspiration strikes?
I think writing is almost like exercising and it gets easier if you keep at it, a little bit each day or work in intensive chunks. Inspiration is great for getting you started but after that you need discipline.
How do you feel about the current art market/art climate?
I think there is an odd dislocation between the current economic climate and the huge figures being spent at auction on certain types of art. But then if you look back at the 1970s – another period of recession in theUK- some of the most exciting developments in conceptual art happened then and, for me, these were more exciting than a lot of work made in the boom periods.
If you could change one thing about the art world today, what would it be?
I think the art world is still male dominated and that just because there are several high profile, high earning female artists that doesn’t mean the situation is typical. So I’d ask the Guerilla Girls to be Artistic Directors at Tate Modern.
Talk a little bit about your current project and why you decide to embark on it.
I have just written and published a short novel called Whorticulture about four migrant women in antebellum America. I started it because I wanted to explore prostitution in its myriad forms and there were many moral ambiguities then, as now. For instance, in Gold Rush San Francisco prostitution was officially frowned upon yet respectable women were advertising themselves as prospective brides and stating quite clearly that only men of a certain income should apply. Given the choices available to women, prostitution sometimes offered more economic independence than marriage or other forms of employment, yet this remains unpalatable to many.
How does being a woman impact your work?
I think being female totally impacts on writing historical fiction because of course there were periods when women’s daily lives were made so difficult by any number of issues. But part of my interest lies in finding parallels with our current situation. How can we use historical fiction to teach us about the present? It is now unfashionable to believe in feminism. There’s a perception that the feminist project failed or that it’s redundant but for me many of the issues are still unresolved (equal pay for instance) and I think we have to be very careful not to presume that just because some of those have been addressed in our own countries that they aren’t pressing elsewhere.
If you had the chance to address a group of young girls, what would you say to inspire them?
I’d tell them that if you are creative you won’t be happy if you’re not making work. So feed your practice. If needs be, make your goals more manageable (no time to write a novel? write a short story) but do something. And finish it. Surround yourself with a support network of your peers. And don’t underestimate or undersell yourself.
To find out more about Marie-Anne, visit the following links: