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By: Rosalind Davis
Becoming Part of Something Part 1 led to the development of a 'superb' dynamic artist led space: Core Gallery & DIY Educate. In November 2011 I left Core Gallery to set up an Independant Artist led project space ZeitgeistArtsProjects with Annabel Tilley. We shall be continuing the highly successful DIY Educate Show&Tell Programme & curate exhibitions.
Follow us on twitter @ZeitgeistAP
# 8 [1 February 2012]
Sometimes what feels like the impossible can actually happen....
I have finished a painting. A painting that I began just before I lost my studios and Core Gallery 3months ago. It has been a long drawn out process and the 2nd longest time it has ever taken me to complete a painting. The painting itself is a reflection on the riots in the summer. A reflection of society ripping itself apart. Of human damage. Of all the things people have invested time , energy and love, being smashed to bits and set on fire. Unhappiness breeding unhappiness. n it was an unsettling time for everyone. London, where I was, as they had initially broken out I cycled through the one in Peckham. The tension was of course palpable. Gangs congregated in front of my house, with headscarf’s and helmets covering their faces and made it impossible to leave my home- afraid of what could happen if I stayed and unable to leave either as either side of me were riots. No-one can really explain it, not in the language of journalism, sociology, government rhetoric or psychology. We cannot explain completely away such pivotal loaded significant moments in history.
The painting is of course of Reeves Corner in Croydon. Which has been part of a series I have been making since the beginning of the year called Into the Wild. Recording manmade and natural disasters, the ripping apart of communities. The losses that are felt can feel huge but then slowly begins the task of reparation. I have often written about the reparative gestures I make through paint, through embroidery. The humanity, that I hope to bring back to a traumatic, barren situation, I hope to at the same time bring back beauty, pathos, relevance and in some ways commemorate that which is lost.
The last year there were many reasons that I almost was these buildings. I was certainly ripped apart. I made a wrong decision about someone and nearly died for it. My work if you see it is not a portrayal of me but at the same time (and never consciously so) symbolically marks aspects of my own experiences, ones which I can certainly empathise with. It wasn’t for nothing that I was interested in devastated landscapes and wondered how humanity, how survival prevailed. How one could relive a life that looked like it could have beauty and hope within it.
Then of course, a further disaster struck by losing Core Gallery, which weakened the foundations again. Yet amongst those ashes, after the trauma of losing a studio and a community over night as so beautifully written about in Kate Murdoch's blog
I realised that all those disasters, they had strengthened and defined my future could also be extremely positive. That I had freed myself from damaging people, from damaging places and that actually my community was all around me. Beyond the walls of our studios, those many artists, those many friends,who held me up. That, within my work, there was reparation, not just for me in its peaceful sanctity and pursuit, but in my experience it gives some beauty back to those who have lost sight of it.
I remember a friend at the time, as we left the exodus of the studio, telling me how this space I ( and so many others) had worked so hard at, that people wanted to be part of, had changed his life. I don’t repeat this out of arrogance (it was the most wonderful thing to hear in such a difficult time) , but because as a thank you, to some those people they have been invited to be part of Collectible, the launch show I am co-curating with anchor Annabel Tilley.http://www.zeitgeistartsprojects.com/exhibitions.html
The Zeitgeist ethos is of generosity. The art world I know isn’t about capitalism, about sensationalism, about money. But about Art , the passion for it, the dedication of the pursuit of making art, the glorious viewing of it, the artist led spaces, the artist focused organisations, the AIR Council. Zeitgeists. Tomorrow I move in to our new studios at ASC as ZeitgeistArtsProjects, and feel very lucky indeed.
# 7 [11 January 2012]
Much excitement in Zeitgeist Art world. We had word from Phoebe Unwin , British Art Show Star that she would return to do a Show&Tell in 2012 which we are thrilled about.
Dates for Show and Tell are on our temporary website www.diyeducate.blogspot.com
Superstar Michaela Nettell is building a beautiful website and logo for us and we are getting ready to launch in February with an exhibition planned in April for Zeitgeist artists.
But, not only that…..in an unexpected turn of last week, Graham Crowley , eminent painter and mentor to me ( and many other artists) has decided to take a studio space in the Zeitgeist Project Space. How incredibly amazing is that?! Everytime I speak to Graham I am more enlightened about paint, painters, art. He is a walking encyclopedia of critical knowledge. He shall also be holding tutorials in our new space.
In the spirit of painting, I wrote an article for an arts magazine which is yet to be published ( with extracts from a blogger interview which I did for a-n) so am publishing it here and in advance of my exhibition opening on the 20th Jan: EastwingX at the Courtauld Institute www.eastwingx.co.uk with Rachel Whiteread, Damian Hirst, Paula Rego, Tom Hunter and Howard Hodgkin amongst the 55 artists selected. 2012 looks pretty fabulous….
Painting is a medium artists feel they will never conquer.
Every time I begin work I go back into the cycle of questioning, exploring - embroiled and intrigued - doubting and persevering. I think it may be the same for every artist. Always trying to be freer, experimenting with techniques, breaking down rules we create for ourselves to seek out new ideas.
I began as a sleuthing painter, sneaking away from the textiles dept at RCA to learn about paint and to drive me forward from the limitations of craft, its politics and perceptions. I chose to no longer care about the hierarchy of mediums, instead, I chose the best way to express my concepts.
In the years after I graduated I realised that instead of being an outsider, what had happened in straddling two paths was that something emerged a little unique and that strengthened my voice: the fascination with utopia and dystopia melded between sensuality of oil and embroidery against vintage and claustrophobic prints of the 1900’s; balancing between realism and naivety, over-perfection and the meshing of paint and embroidery, the subtlety of colour, its softness and shine. Through creating a tension between ‘embellishments and depiction, sensuality and awkwardness’ people are drawn in to the intimacy of the surface and look closely at the artworks and the subjects within them.
The compulsion that society and the individual have to sometimes self-destruct, yet reinvent, is a constant. Sometimes through this destruction we can come to a better understanding of ourselves. To push ourselves: to survive and develop. That is the nature of being an artist.
As for painting, we love its mellifluous qualities, its challenges and ability to transform a surface, its physicality is endlessly seductive.
 Graham Crowley
# 6 [3 January 2012]
Emily Speed kicked off a very lovely round up of personal achievements of the year gone by a few years ago on a-n and a few of us followed suit. One can find it hard to talk about achievements but it seems a good time to take stock of all the good things and enter in the New Year feeling like you got the Boudicca back and remembering this stuff when the going gets tough ( which inevitably it does at times!).
Overall in 2011 there was great joy of learning all the time through the various avenues of art that I work in. Rock on 2012 and Happy New Year to you all.
10 wonderful exhibitions in 2011, including Deliverance at CoExist, The Charlie Dutton Crash Open Salon and Twisted at Phoenix Brighton. Proud to be part of.
Being a Selected artist on Rise Art and creating a special edition print http://www.riseart.com/user/rosalinddavis
Writing articles for a-n and artlicks about the value of the Arts and artists.
Taking part in the thrilling live debate on the Guardian careers blog on being a professional artists
Being part of the inspiring invigorating AIR council (www.a-n.co.uk/AIR) & making waves for empowering artists: representing AIR at several talks and conferences- debates on art education and the value of the arts. In addition Rachel Wilberforce, Jack Hutchinson and I have been developing a partnership with FUELRCA which will enable AIR members to benefit from the fantastic FuelRCA APD talks. Lucky AIR Members.
As part of AIR Jack and I also organised the first AIR Insight talks at Nottingham Surface gallery with Helen Jones. See the Youtube clip here.
An amazing Show&Tell 2011 APD programme created with the wonderful Annabel Tilley with support from Elizabeth Murton with incredible artists speaking at our events: Phoebe Unwin, Freddie Robins, Delaine Le Bas amongst others. A radically accessible, dynamic art education alternative. http://coregallery.co.uk/feedback/
2011 saw me programming 11 exhibitions with a wonderful revisit from Andrew Bryant and Nick Kaplony curating shows amongst others. We also had 3 open studios.
Curating Home with Annabel Tilley.‘ a beautiful, coherent, at times funny, often challenging show and a lot of what I've seen is still on my mind. Beautiful, emotional, haunting, and beautiful again’
Curating Extra-Ordinary with Jane Boyer , Marion Michell, Tom Butler and Alyson Helyer which was reviewed in White Hot Magazine
‘ well executed and thoughtful. Monstrosities Core Gallery would make an excellent starting point for just such an arty expedition in South London – especially if exhibitions of Extra-Ordinary calibre prove to be the norm’ http://whitehotmagazine.com/articles/may-2011-extraordinary-core-gallery/2281
The Core Gallery Open again curated with the clever Jane Boyer was also delight, in particular developing so many new relationships with artists, including the rather wonderful Annabel Dover, EJ Major, Clare Mitten and Iain Andrews amngst others. A wonderful group of artists. See the catalogue with essays and contributions. http://coregallery.co.uk/2011-archive/
There was also the delights of contributing to curating The Salon Photo and Video Prize externally with Matt Roberts.
Other bits and bobs:
The ALISN conference for emerging arts organisations: inspiring as is the concept of the Sluice art fair.
Market Projects projects! Fascinating research into the value and economics of the arts
2012 kicks off with an exciting exhibition at the East Wing X Courtauld Exhibition 2012-2013, Material Matters: 55 artists including Me, Rachel Whiteread, Paula Rego, Damien Hirst andTom Hunter.
After the demise of Core Gallery evolving with talented Annabel Tilley to create future independent arts led organisation ZeitgeistArtProjects in New Cross and getting funding to run significant and dynamic DIY EDUCATE APD events in 2012 under ZAP,with seminars in partnership with Goldsmiths, officially launching in Spring. www.diyeducate.blogspot.com
# 5 [30 December 2011]
Its that festive period where everything pauses. Before Christmas Annabel and I started putting together the Show&Tell Programme 2012 and delighted to have speakers Susan Collis, Virgina Verran, Freddie Robins, Alex Pearl, Cathy Lomax, Karl England Ben Street, Amy Mckenny and Andrew Hewish. You can see more here and there is yet more to come!
In addition , we got another piece of excellent news – that Lewisham Arts Services ( our local arts authority) were giving us a grant to hold 2 creative seminars for artists. originally the LAA had come to us, offering us a grant‘ because we are an important organisation in the borough, offering something no-one else is.’
However when we lost our building and it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to keep the name Core Gallery either, we met with our arts officer and explained it all to her and my need to free myself of an unsustainable and uncertain future and create my own artist led organisation with Annabel. One which was solid, open, sustainable and ambitious . And with no trustees and our own bank account so all finances were under our control. The arts officer was very supportive.
But, of course, the original proposal had to be rewritten, (again and again and again ) plus we also had to find a building in that time or a partner for the seminar. As I previously mentioned there were a lot of meetings with various arts organisations in the borough and in the end we met one of the gatekeepers of Goldsmiths, who was impressed by what we had achieved at Core Gallery and how Annabel and I had founded created the ambitious Show&Tell Artists education programme and they offered us a space to house the talk, ticking some very important partnerships boxes and giving us a sense of solidarity and appreciation from one of the biggest Art schools in the world.
So, in the end, we got there. Even though over the 2 months at points we were crushingly depressed and exhausted by endless permutations and uncertainty as some doors closed on us, as we spent hours working out massively reduced budgets, we realised that some doors, some gates were opening up to us and the stronger we became.
Annabel, Kate Murdoch, Lisa Snook,Jack Hutchinson and Elizabeth Murton particularly buoyed me up, and looked after me when it all felt too much. Its amazing how people thanking you or taking you for a supportive bracing drink can motivate you to keep going and remember the bigger picture. Particularly as it was important to me that as many of us that could stick together in the future studio would be able to which meant heaps of other meetings, negotiations and phonecalls- all totally worth it when I think of our new future.
There was much kindness from others too. Touching emails and meetings over the 2 months came from artists and curators, who I talked to, who had either admired or benefited from Core Gallery and DIY Educate and believed strongly in its future. Now, to be ZeitgeistArtProjects
So now, 2012 looms, bright and shiny, full of freedom and choice. And (some) funding….
# 4 [14 December 2011]
No soapboxes today. Zeitgeist is doing well and things are not as manic as they have been, so guess what, I have actually been able to paint.
And listening to things, this seemed particulary apt, that I feel about painting.
'That special kind of excitement, the slightly mesmerised quite involuntary concentration when you make out the stirrings of a new poem in your mind. The outline, the mass, colour and clear form of it. The unique living reality of it. '
# 3 [6 December 2011]
Busy week ! Annabel and I have settled on a name. ZeitgeistArtsProjects. .
ZAP for short, to express our energy , electricity (of a passionate collabrative relationship) and direct approach. It has integrity …..
It was inspired by the ALISN Emerging Artist led organisations conference we attended the other week at Goldsmiths. Inspired by the energy that is going on with this project and Sluice Art Fair we were feeling that really that artists led organisations were a very strong sector with the ability to make change. The fact that they are artist led means there is an incredible amount of creative entrepeneurship. For Core Gallery and DIY Educate we have used every available funding revenue to fund programmes, from crowd funding to charity, we have managed a bit from everywhere
which leads me to the opposite end of the spectrum of genorosity.
Exploitation is everywhere in the creative sector. It is with relief that NFPO and RFO’s have been pushed by the Arts council to pay interns. I have been gob smacked by a local arts organisation in South East London which has interns working for them 5 days a week for 3 months for just travel. How can anyone even do that unless they come from money or work every night and weekend? Interestingly these organisations pay invigilators as do most other NFPO’s etc. Its not enough to dangle a carrot in front of interns to say they may get a job in the end.
Artist led spaces have a much harder task, as none of us are generally paid for any of our work. We involve thoughtful passionate artists who can benefit directly from the work that they do and feel part of a team, listened to and nurtured in their own ways. when it comes our way we build in admin fees to our funding and pay everyone on a project basis-; No-one is rich but they are fulfilled in pursuing a passion project. I see my assistant Charlie who is my girl Friday and now pursuing her own curatorial projects, excited and buoyed by the experience, confidence and contacts she has made. Plus shes still part of ZAP!Because she believes in it too.
Hopefully slowly slowly we can make things more sustainable for all those involved, again ourselves included.
As for the Westbourne Grove lot offering professional practice at £400 or so a month, charming artists with their ‘ talent scout’ shady emails to about 100 ‘ unique’ artists a week, I personally feel sick. With all the fantastic PP being held for nominal costs such as DIYEducate , Artquest, Q-Art, Matt Roberts this is ludicrous.
As someone represented by galleries:
1. you don’t pay galleries for the privilege before they sell your work.when you do it's based on commission 2. £100 per session to learn how to tweet?? !
Ask yourself this when you are being charmed- do I need this? Can I get a better opportunity by saving £1200 – yes I think you may.
As for a recent Art fair the other weekend ( for artists!) promoting themselves as supporting emerging talent, with £700 + for a stall, that is actually blatantly not supportive. I am sure there were great benefits but as a visitor I was a bit appalled by that price tag, thats £700,000+ for the organisers (plus sponsorship) ...
I completely believe in doing things for yourselves and I am sure for a fair few people paying these sums, reaps in a lot. It concerns me though that this is the standard being set, it is new in the art world, what seems to be a slightly parasitic preying on vulnerable artists, its an ugly opposite from the likes of what Core Gallery was and what fairs like Sluice Art Fair are achieving.
I want a better future for you all.
Surviving After Art School Talk tackles this on Saturday.how to realise what's a good opportunity and avoid exploitation is one of many topics coverered http://tilleydavis.moonfruit.com/
Okay off the soapbox now….
# 2 [6 December 2011]
Since the loss of the studio and gallery Annabel Tilley and I have been stacking up meetings all over the place. Firstly with our very understanding Fenton Art Trust and Local Arts Officer trying to secure all the funding we worked so tirelessly to get. In addition meeting local arts and studio organisations and contacts at Goldsmiths who may be able to house some of the programmes. Our ideal situation would be to find a space that would be able to house us as well as the core members from the studio who wanted to stick together and have a space to do exhibitions and hold DIY Educate. Most days rocked between brilliant meetings full of potential and then a weighing up of what may be best.
Offers were made, proposals were written in some cases with one studio group who are opening up an interesting studio /project space in Deptford which seemed perfect but then were told that the project spaces were going to be allocated to International Project spaces and not just ‘studio groups who put up exhibitions’. This was clearly not what Core Gallery was. It was radical, dynamic and exploratory exhibition programme inviting some of the best emerging international talents as well as being blessed with heavyweight established artists such as Rose Wylie, Graham Crowley, Delaine Le Bas and Freddie Robins. Giving platforms as well to emerging and very talented visionary curators such as Nick Kaplony and Andrew Bryant. How can you not have a space for a project who has over the last 2 years been significant in getting Deptford on the international art map?
One really surreal meeting was with a new gallery created by a property developer who was passionate about art ( so he said) and had a space we could potentially use. As we walked up to our meeting with him I noticed the flash silver Mercedes in front of this gallery in Deptford. The man was wearing sunglasses, not on top of his head but perched just above his eyebrows ( a look I always admire…). Over the half hour we spent with him, he managed to both insult and enrage me. He hadn’t bothered to even look up the Core Gallery website and knew nothing about the thriving art scene in the Southeast. He told me he had no interest in art, artists etc on one breath and then that he had set up the space for artists. … confusing…..he had a great idea that we could set up a Sheesha lounge to supplement the sizeable rent…..a bloody sheesha lounge! You can probably imagine the look on my face at this point. We were diplomatic throughout and left with a heart sicker of a feeling that this may not be a new home.
Just when I thought the ideal would never be possible I got in touch with a leading studio organisation and told them of our plight but also about how incredible the programme had been. The chief executive phoned me immediately and has an interesting proposal for us that could just maybe be an answer…
We also need a name for our new venture. Twitter went into overload as we talked to other arts led organisations CoExist, Sluice Art Fair, Alex Pearl and Emily Speed getting involved as well as Queen of naming Elizabeth Murton. Annabel and I were hysterically giggling in the Tate Modern about acronyms PAP and PEEP and even reggae name generator was pulled out at one point! We know what we don’t want….but haven’t yet found what we do want….suggestions welcome!
# 1 [6 December 2011]
It seems apt to restart a blog right now. One million things have happened over the days since I have left posted.
In a tumultuous 48 hours, the studios where I and Core Gallery were housed were lost after negotiations with our Trustees and landlords broke down.
It was time to stop being bullied for us all but at the same time it was terribly traumatic. Since that point over the churning days that followed I also came to realise I wanted independance from the studio group Cor Blimey Arts but at the same time that also meant I shall lose my Core Gallery. Although I founded it and it was my brain child, my blood, my heart and it should have been my priviliege to take with me to pastures new, it was not my legal right.
' All anxiety stems from the fear that we'll lose what we have or the future wont be what we want. It seems rational to quell the fear by
winning those battles. But perhaps an equally effective, even preferable solution might be to lose them, decisively and
irreversibly- eliminating the sense of fearful struggle by eliminating the struggle altogether. '' Oliver Burkeman
It was hard to do that, harder than you can imagine. And this is going to be quite a shock for some people. But its time to move forward and tell people this.
Because all is not lost. Not at all. Because now I have the independance, skills and experience to do what I wish and the last year working with Annabel Tilley on DIY Educate I have found a new partnership with her. Annabel is passionate, astute, committed and clever. She makes me laugh and she is great at funding applications. Its a fantastic partnership. So we are going to start anew together in a new space and it actually feels rather fabulous.
DIY Educate continues with us. Genorousity and integrity and the will and desire to nurture artists continues with us.
Its been a incredible 2 years and I have learnt an incredible amount. I had the priviliege to work with amazing artists and curators. Some of which will be part of my future.
With special thanks to Annabel Tilley, Elizabeth Murton, Jack Hutchinson, Kate Murdoch, Chantelle Purcell, Michaela Nettell, Charlotte Norwood, Lisa Snook, Jane Boyer, Becky Hunter and as ever my mentor Graham Crowley.
Here is a potted version of all that I achieved with Core Gallery ( if anyone wants to give me a job- this is what I can do and this time I want to be paid for it! )
Founder , Gallery and Education Manager, Curator: Core Gallery 2009-11
Core Gallery was founded through a determination and initiative to create a dynamic exploratory exhibition and education programme; providing exposure, advise, education and nurturing artists whether emerging or established and to enhance the Cor Blimey Arts studio group profile and assist CBA in making their studios a more vital and desired place to be in a competitive studio market. I managed a small team working remotely across the world and worked with over 200 artists and Curators: programming curating, co-ordinating, managing, marketing and promoting 17 exhibitions, 30 talks attracting more then 6,000 visitors over 2 years and a 95% increase in the mailing list. An attraction of national press- we were even mentioned in the same breath as Frieze Art Fair!
Over 2 years we secured Funding to carry out workshops and education programmes from a variety of revenue streams local authorities , national charities, corporate sponsorship, crowd funding...and much much more. All assisted by the fabulous group of people named above and many more.
We made partnerships with many other artists organisations and schools and Universities.
I go forth with these allies and finish with a talk about setting up your own projects and how to achieve the above.
Come along, it would be nice to see you.
I am also luckily talking about Curating etc for an AIR event at Surface Gallery. http://www.a-n.co.uk/air/topic/469394
And if you have any suggestions for a name or a building I can use then let me know....
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Rosalind Davis is a mixed media painter and graduate from the RCA, creating melancholy dystopian landscapes that explore human experience and identity.
Rosalind Davis is also a writer, lecturer, curator and member of the AIR Council, Director of Core Gallery 2009-11 and DIY Educate.
A collection of her works shall be entering the Courtauld Institute, London as part of the East Wing' Biennial exhibition in 2012.