Be a fly on the wall as artists consider ‘imposter syndrome’

‘The Benefit of Doubt’ is a digital residency and voyeuristic portal (as art can be) with artists Fran Romano and Zoë Slee at the helm. The two, who work primarily in the ceramic medium, muse on ideas such as ‘self-doubt, self-image and related preconceptions and biases’. The pair have been writing letters to each other as they go about their creative lives, punctuated with an image of old or upcoming work. A process about process. 

Hosted on Sydney gallery MAY space’s website the exchanges from recent days are accompanied by an open comment section at the bottom for you to weigh in. You can also sign up to the newsletter to receive their letters in real time, once a week for the duration of the project.

How do you think an artist creates an artwork? Is it an equation of talent, education, experience, luck, society, wellbeing, politics, money and persistence? Yes, I think so.

But, often inspiration is thought of, and presented as, something that strikes ‘a special person’, a genius maybe, and transports them into a feverish mode where time is abstract and allows them to work outside the variables of everyday life. When you imagine a creative spark, do you picture someone working into the wee-hours of the morning? Or you do you see the artist diligently plugging away to a schedule in between, work, family and other responsibilities? Maybe neither is the reality.

Whatever it is, I think it’s likely to be generative, as such is life; experience relative to time and the outcomes of that. But, also possibly not; we know exceptional work and ideas arise in youth. Whichever way you slice it, process is personal. As such, Romano and Slee seek to ‘demystify’ their internal and real world creative journeys. 

In an early letter Slee says ‘I was thinking about how many ideas I’ve had, good ideas, deceptively simple ideas I’ve had, that I’ve never started… either because I didn’t have the time or didn’t know how to begin.’

Fran Romano, Interiority I, 2021, mid-fire ceramic, slips, underglaze colour, gold leaf, black stain, 16.5 x 17 x 17 cm
Zoë Slee

Romano replies thereafter, ‘So the BIG thing then is how to Begin! I find it so difficult with each new project.  It is stepping into the unknown.’

Fran Romano

How do we bring something into being, an idea, a thing, an experience? Given that a lot of us have been socially and physically isolated in the pandemic this is an interesting exchange to appreciate how to contemplate taking a vision into action, to bloom. Or, reckon with our thoughts and doubt.

Start from the bottom of the page to read the post-cards which unfold in chronological order, and jump into the comments section to participate. The pair will be chatting and uploading photos until 11 November.

Where will the journey take them, and us?

Zoë Slee, Arcanic object IX, 2020, porcelain and plexiglass, 7 x 12 x 5.5 cm