The Inaugural Kim Fielding Award nears it's deadline for applications, 23.59 GMT 13th March 2015, in the true spirit of Kim it is open to any artist or artist group anywhere.
Kim Fielding was a glamorous, pervasive, irreverent and profoundly relevant presence during and after my time in Cardiff at UWIC between 1995 and 1998. Whilst I was an art student on the undergraduate course he was completing the masters programme, testing, extending and fondling the limits of the photo visual programme with his practice that straddled performance and photography.
My first time working with him included lavish elements of kimonos, platforms, complete darkness punctured by staccato flash bulbs firing to illuminate micro seconds of whatever the action was, it's faded from my memory now but I do recall the lessons learnt from the wholehearted frisson of chaos and needing to be entirely in the moment.
The entire palaver was orchestrated with Kim's mirthful mischief manifested as an adroit ability to wield marvellous collisions and collusions of people, time and place in events and occasions, all wrapped by his extensive linguistic extravagances. He was a canny word smith, he could speal a performance concept, photographic back story, an exhibition raison d'être with casual exuberance.
As well as producing prolifically his own photographic work Kim co-created tactileBOSCH, artist led studios and gallery where he organised numerous events and where I had the privilege of presenting my own work.
For a while I taught at UWIC on Mondays and Tuesdays, commuting from Birmingham and staying the night at Kim's flat in Riverside. Towards the end of my work day one or other of us would text the other about dinner and shopping, I would pick up a few food items and return to Kim's where I would sit at his kitchen table and be cooked for. Cooking would be accompanied by copious chat, discussion and banter. One tender river of conversation was about our mothers and our respective concerns for them as they were both vulnerable with health issues.
Another was education and the frustrations and limits of being somewhat self identified renegade artists, our relationships with art institutions and bigger responsibility to student artist be they ones who had found a reflectively straightforward passage through the modules art degree system or ones who it didn't suit one iota. Kim had an open door policy with all these creatives, there was not one hint of academic gatekeeping nor judgmental deliberating. He simply put them to work, art school drop out? Great, come and help out at tactileBOSCH, he'd feed them (he could cook up a storm) and give whomever tasks, responsibilities and revel in their success.
After eating too much the ritual was to watch Spooks, then I'd bed down in his home office/archive where I would have the sweetest and cosiest sleeps, surrounded bay stacks of prints, boxes of film, vast gregariousness of his clicking camera.
The next morning I'd get woken up by David Bowie, generally Young Americans blasting from the kitchen and I'd be given a breakfast of eggs with chilli and lots of coffee thick and strong before seting off to teach, Kim biking off to conjure something or other at tactileBOSCH.
Learning of his passing was a shock, via Facebook. Damn it was horrid. I remember seeing something or other that set off the dawning of the realisation then a cold panic inside me in an effort to find out if the worst had happened, and it had.
I continually learn from Kim. I still do. I learn things like how important it is to be open to younger artists, to really see the limits of our institutions and to think about how to step in when they fail, be it the student or the institution. I found him absurdly generous and generative and fabulously stylish.
Others have really being doing the hard work of carrying Kim's legacy forward, they've worked so very tirelessly and have been really diligent and tireless to create a vision that can keep doing Kim's work. They've been so smart and thoughtful in they're ability to imbue this legacy with the humour, verve, open border polity and hilarious lustre that Kim would of approved of. I take my hat off to these terrific people, the guardians of the Kim Fielding Award.
Much more can, should, will and must be said about Kim, some of that has begun and you can read more about him via the links here.
With Kim in 2008 at our friends Amelia and Andy's wedding. Kim was the wedding photographer.