Metaspective: Richard Bolam at 60 (and the whole goddamn thing starts all over again) #BolamAt60

My new studio at Replicast Studios in Sheffield.

There are many drawbacks to aging, but also many compensations, and one of the most potent enhancements is patience. I had the first seed of an idea for my retrospective at 50 back in 2004, but I didn’t start working on it in earnest until August 2012 with a little under two years before my 50th birthday on 24th April 2014. It seemed like plenty of time in the summer of 2012 but the project ballooned enormously and, although there were many successes, there were also some failures, and the greatest of those was failing to finish the catalogue.

I had the idea to make the catalogue as a part-work magazine in the style of 1970s-era Exchange & Mart. The one issue I did manage to finish was one of the most satisfying elements of the abundant ephemera that I produced for the project and I wish I had concentrated on it more at the time.

“Catalogue” issue 1 and a lucky customer.

Afterwards, it seemed obvious that the catalogue should have been the central work with everything else being peripheral to it but, as always, I allowed myself to get distracted by other bells and whistles (oooh shiny!). Also, having applied myself so tirelessly for nearly two years beforehand, the anti-climax came at the beginning of the retrospective year, rather than after it was all over and I lost some of the pre-event momentum.


“Catalogue” issue 1 and a lucky customer.

Briefly, maybe for only a few weeks after the retrospective year, it did feel like the end of my career, until I remembered that the whole thing was fake anyway. Well, kinda real and fake at the same time, but the deadlines were entirely dictated by the accident of my birth and it doesn’t really matter if I achieved it all within that temporal bracket or not.

Love Bolams for the end-of-event goodie bags.

Bolam masks from the goodie bags.

Branding wall at Cupola Gallery.

A gift from Ami.

Selling my wares at the Sheffield Zine Fest.

And so, not long after the end of the year of Retrospective: Richard Bolam at 50, I decided to do the whole thing again when I am 60. It won’t be the same, of course, and there will be another 10 year’s work included, but it is a way of buying myself some time to get that pesky catalogue finished. I had originally intended to make 12 issues, one per month of of the retrospective year, with a 13th issue for some reason that I can’t remember.

Never mind, I might re-think how the issues are configured but I have six years and four months this time around, plus the 12 months from 24th April 2024 until 23rd April 2025.

If I live that long.

Here is the first blog post from the Retrospective: Richard Bolam at 50.

Here is my current blog: Prospective: Richard Bolam until 60. I took some time off from making art (more about that later) and so there has not been much activity recently, apart from Rick’s Fast Art Takeaway and the ongoing Casualty 14-18.

When I was young, the prospect of waiting six years for something would have seemed like an insurmountable obstacle, but at 53, approaching the dusk of my life, and with my previous experience, I’m not sure it’s going to be long enough. I have just moved into a new studio in Sheffield (in addition to my attic home office) and it does feel like the beginning of a new phase. You can see how excited I am in the photo above.

Anyway, whatever happens, I’m sure that true happiness this way lies.