Welcome to my blog..

"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty

When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.

I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.

As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. While felt blessed for the opportunity, after four years of this, the lack of pay combined with heavy work load stopped working, so have transferred this teaching passion to private workshops in my own apartment and working with writers one on one, which I adore. I will die a happy person if I never have to grade an assignment ever again.

I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with a new book recently completed.

I am now working full-time as a freelance writer, writing workshop leader, coach, and editor. Contact me if you are interested in any of these services.

Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.

For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani

Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now. You can also contact me through that site.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Art and Profit

Because my emotional state probably does not need elucidation (my husband is packing up his stuff in our house and leaving on Monday - just guess how I feel - not hard, right?), and I was about to write a post basically saying that, I ended up reading a comment on my Linkedin Independent Theater Artists and Producers group (as you do...), and had to respond to a series of comments in response to a question about UK funding cuts and arts cuts generally...The comments were trending in the direction of we should get corporations to fund the arts because it's in their best interest plus arts bring profit to community and aspects of creativity can benefit corporations, etc....You can see for yourself by clicking: this discussion page

The advantage, if that is the word, of being emotionally as raw as I am, is that I lose the inhibition to say what I mean and mean what I say.  So, for better or for worse (bad pun in my circumstances, I grant you), here is what I wrote:

You know, I've seen all the same studies about art bringing profit to places, etc. and how creativity can help business...but I worry about this as the main argument for the arts.  What about the fact that there are many, many aspects to life, arguably the most important aspects, that have nothing to do with the 'bottom line'?

What about being able to notice what is around you, see a butterfly on the sidewalk while traffic whizzes by, know for a precious moment you are not the center of the universe, be able to see with fresh eyes.  As a hero of mine Joseph Chaikin once wrote (and I have on my bulletin board still, ripped and battered, having been written in 1985 on a shred of paper and moved countless times and continents since) "To express the extreme joy of being alive at a certain moment is practically impossible - and really worth trying."

That is why I continue to create theater, make art, write and live my life the way I do - against all odds and without a trust fund - at 48 years of age.  I have no pension and no security in the traditional sense of the word and sometimes yes that worries me, but I know because of the time I've spent in rehearsal rooms, and at keyboards and on pieces of paper creating, that my real security lay in my ability to create and connect with the forces that allow for that.

People who do not have access to this experience are impoverished and global capitalism functions on this impoverishment - it makes us think we need things we don't so we'll work like hell and go into debt to get those things and that 'lifestyle.'  Great creativity goes into advertising to make this lie possible, but I want nothing to do with that world.

And as for corporate sponsorship, it's not free, it's money laundering - big business laundering their profits, which have been made off the sweat and in some cases death of others, through your creativity.  That is not a price I am willing to pay.

Sorry to be the wet blanket here, but I really believe this stuff and I'm sick of real politik winning the day over and over again.  We have to make our arguments as artists for what we actually value, not go over and work 'the system' to 'our benefit,' because then whatever system we decide to align ourselves with, wins.  And that is the death of art.

And yes, I know the Medicis funded the Renaissance and on and on.  I know art history and I know we as artists are not pure as the driven snow, but we still need to know from where our work comes and make decisions awake or we are lost.


Feel free to comment on this if you want and send any good thoughts, vibes, prayers or whatever you believe in to North East London, as I enter a new phase of this transitional period in my life.  Maybe at some point I will attempt to describe the pain, but somehow I think everyone's experienced it so - like photos of NYC - that is probably redundant.

And honestly, I'm just as happy to talk about arts funding, because there's only so much of this emotional shit uncut I can take.


  1. Sending good vibes from So. London to NE London!

    And, thank you, for sharing the quote from your "hero". Sometimes, just sometimes, I feel as if I've been able to express that joy.

    Be well,

  2. Thanks Bea, and if you're trying to express that joy, please show me some of your work sometime. Very sad tonight so can't write much but just wanted to say that. My email is on my profile page.

  3. I agree with you. I've never applied for an NEA grant because it means becoming a government employee, and a de facto representative of many things our govt does which I abhor (yes yes, it does many fine things too, that's not the point). And I believe corp sponsorship is the same. That said, how do you fund, say, an 80-person orchestra in a city like Honolulu where there is little interest in the arts? Short answer: you don't. The orchestra packed it up here years ago. That might be better for the integrity of art on some level, but on the other hand there are plenty of unemployed musicians who aren't benefiting. I guess I'm lucky to pursue writing, which has a relatively low overhead.