Dear Aunty BAZ,

I’ve just got my first residency - at a hospice. I think the reason I got the job is because I told them that I had been looking after my dying grandmother for the last two years. The problem is, I lied on my application - my grans an absolute picture of health. I only applied because the pay was good. I don’t think I can deal with been surrounded by death. What should I do Aunty BAZ? Tell the truth or try and get through it?

Yours severely worried,


Dear Anna,

This is a difficult one. Best of luck,

Aunty BAZ.

Dear Aunty BAZ,

My partner is a performance artist. His pieces usually involve bounding up to people in public spaces on all fours and pretending to urinate on their legs. He then videos peoples responses to this. Usually they call him a wanker or something similar. Recently he has begun to get really hostile responses - he now does it on Friday or Saturday nights on Broad Street. He has ended up in hospital for the last four weekends after being badly beaten up. When I go to pick him up the hospital staff say he needs to stop doing this or he’ll be arrested. He tries to explain to them that it’s art but they say he’s a drain on valuable resources. What should I do?

Yours worried, Annabel.

Dear Annabel,

This is a very common problem. The vast majority of letters I receive are from the partners of performance artists, usually seriously concerned about the increasingly erratic behaviour of their partners. I also have a high proportion of letters sent in from depressed artists who are injured and house bound after undertaking Bas Jan Ader re- makes. The problem is that if a performance artist wants to perform, then there is very little you can do. One does not become a performance artist, rather one is born a performance artist. If your boyfriend wants to bound up to people on Friday nights and pretend to urinate on their legs then you have to accept that. I suggest that you maybe accompany him on his little adventures. If people begin to get hostile towards him then you can perhaps help out by explaining to them that this is art, not mental deficiency. I’m sure the Broad St clientele will be more than understanding!

Yours, Aunty BAZ.

Dear Aunty BAZ,

I have a problem. I am obsessed with art. It’s fine in my day-to-day existence, as I can hide this. The problem I have is when I have sex with my girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend). Every time I come to climax I shout out the names of male artists I admire. My girlfriend left yesterday when I screamed “kippenberger” at the point of orgasm. She walked out saying she had had enough. Do you think I need therapy? Last week I shouted out Jackson Pollock, but managed to cover myself by saying something about my b******ks. Yesterday I just couldn’t think of a anything quick enough to rhyme with Kippenburger.

Yours troubled, Brian.

Dear Brian

Speaking from experience, I know that you’ve got this problem for life unfortunately. The only think to do is to list all of your favourite artists and work out ‘covering’ rhymes. This way you can be ready. Here are a few examples. If you shouted out Picasso, you could cover yourself by saying ‘lets go to Burkina Faso’ (which is a desperately poor landlocked country in western Africa; it was Upper Volta under French rule but gained Independence in 1960). Or if you scream out Warhol, you could say ‘ I’ve got a large barge pole’. Hope that helps!

Aunty BAZ.

Dear Aunty BAZ,

I make timed based ephemeral art - mainly cardboard versions of grandfather clocks which Ithensetfireto.Ithenputon nights where I recount the experience. I believe the spoken word is enough as I don’t believe in documentation. The problem is that I keep getting rejected from exhibitions - everyone wants to see photos or videos of the grandfather clocks on fire. I’ll often turn up to recount my stories at exhibition selection panel meetings, only to be turned away point blank. I’ve now begun to doubt myself and have begun to think that what I do is completely pointless. Is art pointless Aunty BAZ?

Yours despairingly, Steve.

Dear Steve,

Yes Art is Pointless! Of course it’s pointless. That’s its point. It feels my heart with radiant joy that there is someone out there making intricate versions of grandfather clocks out of cardboard and then burning them. You must be the only person in the world doing this. Think of that! You are an amazing person! Keep up the pointless work.

Aunty BAZ.

Dear Aunty BAZ,

My partner is addicted to the jobs and opportunities section on the a-n magazine website. His behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic. He sits at his computer all day and even gets up at 3.00am and 5.00am to check if any other opportunities have been added. He never even gets in an application for as soon as he starts writing he abandons it to begin on another one.

Yours frustrated, Daisy.

Dear Daisy,

This is very serious - you need to give him an ANBO (an Artists Newsletter Behavioural Order) immediately. Total abstinence from listings for six months.

Aunty BAZ.

Dear Aunty BAZ,

Art is ruining our relationship. We’re both performance / video artist’s - we predominantly film ourselves engaged in strange and bizarre situations. But we’re getting scared that one of us may die soon - and we can’t stop. We’re addicted to the thrill of performance. Our most recent work is called the lovers cliché series:

Love is blind. Marriage is the eye-opener (we got married and put match sticks between our eyes for three days; we required hospital treatment).

Love is not just gazing at each other but looking together in the same direction (we stood on a hill for four days looking in the same direction without food or water. We required hospital treatment).

Love is the unity of two hearts beating together as one (we super-glued our selves together so we resembled Siamese twins. We required hospital treatment when Andy tried to run from a wasp and tore all the skin off my left hand side).

We are becoming very worried that our collaborating is going to end in a near death situation. Collaboration is a dangerous thing. What should we do Aunty BAZ?

Yours concerned,

Katie & Andy

Dear Katie & Andy,

I suggest you stop collaborating immediately. I suggest you visit one of the newly opened arts council funded artists rehab centres. You do need to apply for arts council funding to go there though. But they’ll let you know within 6 weeks or if you need to go for a long time, it can take 3 months to get a decision. You might get rejected, so on average it takes about 7 months to get in. If you get in you should take the highly recommended Critically Coping with Collaboration Critically (CCCC). Hope that helps!

Yours, Aunty BAZ.

Dear Aunty BAZ,

I’m nearly 40, but I still haven’t come out to my mum that I’m an artist. Every time I build up to it, I get an intense feeling of shame at what I do and bottle it. She thinks I’ve been in the army for the last 17 years. Before going round to see her, I always put on some kit I brought from the local army surplus store. I told her the reason I always wear a 1980s German army jacket (it was cheap) is because I’m working abroad a lot - that’s why I’m not around much. In reality I live 12 miles away. I’m too shameful to tell her this and the things I get up with my arty mates.


Dear Richard,

As the poem goes...A Mother’s love is something that no on can explain, It is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain, It is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may For nothing can destroy it or take that love away.

Wouldn’t tell her you’re an artist though!

Aunty BAZ.

Dear Aunty BAZ,

My boyfriend is a sculptor. He’s not a particularly good one, but he tries nevertheless. He mainly makes very heavy odd looking objects out of building plaster. Our house is full of them. I would move them but I don’t want to hurt his feelings, and I’m physically unable to. It’s like Easter Island downstairs. Fortunately they are too heavy to carry upstairs. I thought the upstairs of our house was safe from his art - until recently. I am worried, very worried. He has gone into making sculptures for the ‘bedroom’ - large crude mechanical devices to help with our love life. The problem is they are all made from large rusty bits of metal - often with sharp edges - he has reclaimed from the breakers yard for some cash in hand. Last night he got in at 6.00 pm, but we couldn’t go to bed until 11.30 as he was busy constructing Performance Machine Mark Four ‘Excalibur’. This was so heavy the plaster cracked in the living room and fell on the kid’s dinner. When ‘Excalibur’ was eventually constructed we became trapped between an old iron bed frame and a BMX. We had to call the kids to help get us out. I can’t take this anymore Jane. What’s more I’m terrified I may get tuberculosis from the rusty metal. What should I do Aunty BAZ?


Dear Janet,

I suggest you sneak out under cover of darkness, taking your children with you. Once a man begins to build machines for the bedroom there is very little you can do I’m afraid. Either get out or risk an imminent and messy death.

Aunty BAZ.

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