"A new decade is a time in which to declare everything you know is wrong. A fresh decade is a time to jettison secure old knowledge and grope around for new." So writes Scottish musician and polymath, Nick Currie (better known as Momus) on his always thought-provoking 'blog, Click Opera. He offers some Eno-esque advice about where and how to look for the new. Before "groping around" myself, I thought I'd cast my eye over the "old" one last time – specifically, the ten year span of my professional career as a painter.
When I finally committed to the idea of myself as an artist, in late 1999, my ambitions were tempered by a lot of self-doubt. I had mounted three solo exhibitions – two at a commercial gallery. All of them had sold out. And yet I hadn't made enough money to cover the cost of materials. I was still living and working at my father's house. I held down a part-time job to make ends meet. Then: My art dealer told me I had to chose between being commercially successful and critically admired. When I insisted that I intended to be both, she burst out laughing. I burst into tears. Secretly, I dreamed of my work hanging in major institutional collections. Now: I choose not to be represented by any gallery or dealer. I produce my own exhibitions. My work enjoys commercial and critical success but I've also helped drive a global revolution in art marketing and communications. My work has been exhibited in a number of institutional galleries but it has yet to feel as good as I'd imagined. I have a great home and studio of my own, a couple of good assistants, and my earnings during the past four years add up to over a million dollars. Unfortunately, so have my outgoings – but that will change.Then: I dreamed of being able to work full-time on art, and of making only bold art about which I was passionate. I wanted to be travel regularly and exhibit overseas but I wanted to live on a cliff facing the sea. I thought I might achieve one of these things within 20 years, if I was lucky.Now: I work only on my art. I would still like it to be bolder, more experimental. I've travelled as much as I've wanted during the last couple of years and I've been in a handful of solo and group shows in the USA, the UK and Japan. I live on a cliff-top above the Pacific Ocean, in a fashionable suburb north of Sydney. Then: I believed that the internet might become quite useful for artists, even if I wasn't quite sure how.Now: The internet still hasn't been used in a groundbreaking way to make new forms of art. But it has liberated artists from an oppressive, male-dominated, commercial and institutional gallery system and given us greater control over the way we communicate the ideas and intentions of our work and how and where it is sold. It has also enabled direct, unmediated dialogue with all those who take an interest in it, wherever they happen to be.