Abstract Landscape Photography

Sunday’s for Dreamers

This morning, it being Sunday, I lounged about in bed browsing the news. And stumbled on an article from last Tuesday’s New York Times about the recent raft of MacArthur Foundation Awardees. I always find these stories incredibly uplifting, and this one feels like the best: 24 creative people are given a huge amount of money ($625,000) with no strings attached. No strings attached. That is giving the gift of creative freedom to 24 people every year! As one of this year’s awardees, novelist and academic Viet Thanh Nguyen said, it frees you up to ‘continue risking humiliation.’ That’s wildest dreams stuff, so let’s dream.


The first thing I’d do if that much money landed in my bank account is buy a big format camera. I’m really interested in place, and a big format camera would allow me to really examine that concept.

The second thing I’d do is move. I need to be virtually on the sea for the sense of space and freedom that brings, and as close as possible to a major city for the company of other creatives. Here I’m too far away from both so I very rarely get to either, and I feel constantly on the verge of suffocation. I’d buy a small house with a garden, and rent studio space in the city.* And then I’d get to work without worrying what anyone thinks of it.

Beach cottage
Image: Cornwall Cam

It’s difficult to say what that work would be, I have so many ideas. But one thing I’ve been wanting to do for some time is travel the country interviewing people about their kitchen vessels. I’m particularly interested in inherited vessels, anything from old tobacco tins that have been repurposed, to fish kettles, but wouldn’t rule out new purchases. It’s the stories I’m after.

Still Life Photography by Eryl Shields

I’d also just spend time outside, with my new big format camera, exploring. I’d make photographs and poems, I’d take classes, I’d set up a darkroom, I’d go out and talk to people, I’d splash paint around. I’d keep on risking humiliation. I’d also buy new knickers and socks, and a jumper without holes.

What would you do if you were awarded such a huge sum?


*No idea if that would be possible – how much do houses cost, how much studio space – but this is a dream.

4 thoughts on “Sunday’s for Dreamers

  1. That MacArthur stipend is paid out over a five-year period, so you might have to scale back your ambitions a bit! I question giving all that money to people like Viet Thanh Nguyen and Annie Baker, who are already established and doing just fine, thank you.

    I don’t know what I’d do but I can tell you what I WOULDN’T do: waste another day sitting in an antiseptic office doing meaningless, soul-sucking work.


  2. Gads, I can’t even escape this place in a dream!

    I half agree with your questioning of awarding Nguyen and Baker, but I guess the panel must be curious to see what they’ll do with the freedom the money affords, and there must be something about their work that suggests that will be amazing.

    I look forward to seeing what you do do when you escape that office, as you surely will one day.


  3. That picture from Cornwall Cam looks familiar, I would love to live there, but that close to the sea is often pricey.
    What would I do with the money? I will have to ponder that one…. I seem to have deliberately directed myself to inexpensive pastimes!


    1. Everyone wants to live by the sea it seems, and Cornwall is the first choice for most. Or Norfolk, which would probably my choice if a friendly billionaire took pity on me. Though France would be tempting.

      You could live the After Eight lifestyle! X


Say whatever you need to

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.