Since leaving the Royal College of Art 4 years ago, after the wilderness of life after college, after many struggles, through much determination to engage with artists and the art world, I finally feel part of something…..an arts community, a network. This blog is also about my practise, my first studio experience and the development of an artist led space: Core Gallery in Deptford
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 was recently approached by a company in Chicago telling me how special I am as an artist and how they wish to show my work to fab collectors etc., perhaps it will amount to something, they seem to have a professional set up but when I requested a skype to chat over the so called contract, things have gotten quiet. Maybe they are busy with fab collectors….
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….
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!
It seems apt to restart the 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 founded by myself and Elizabeth Murton 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 to run educational projects and bring resources to Core Gallery and Cor Blimey Arts.
and much much more. All assisted by the fabulous group of people named above and many more.
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. 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….
It was our first birthday in April at Core which aptly was exhibiting Extra-Ordinary which I curated with Jane Boyer: Tom Butler, Alyson Helyer and Marion Michell are utterly wonderful.
‘ Never was a title more apt – you really have created something that lives up to its title. It was a pleasure to look at. Stimulating but also, quite overwhelming
when you really consider the content, the work itself, which is so excellent’
DIY Educate has been getting overwhelmingly positive feedback with people visiting us from as far as Southend and Birmingham and people driving from Somerset and Devon to have tutorials with Graham Crowley…!
heres some nuggets of joy – or feedback as others like to call it… the stuff that keeps me going.!
‘Thanks very much for the helpful and motivational talk last night’
‘ A fantastic and informative evening’
‘ I am absolutely amazed at how effective your session was at making me take action.’
‘ Thanks for organising Engine ChatChat. It’s great to see what other artists are up to and comforting to know that you’re not alone in facing obstacles as to why and how your work won’t quite move forwards at times.
And as ever, the nurturing environment pervading Core Gallery always leaves me feeling glad to be associated with such a positive and encouraging place and group of people.
‘Just wanted to let you know how helpful it was to attend the ChatChat . When one is in art school one has a special status and so much input and a real sense of being part of the world of art. Later, after struggling alone to be an artist one can then feel on the outside.
What you all are doing at Core Gallery is admirable as it gives those people who are trying so diligently to continue as artists a chance to feel connected with other artists in the same pursuit, to hear how art practice is discussed at the moment and to begin to feel part of an art community. I can see that it is important in the current financial climate to create the opportunities ourselves.’
For those of you that read this blog you are also part of something and it is really something quite special. Unsurpassed. Goodbye for now, I am starting a new blog , but sure to return and thank you for reading.
Below is a blogger interview about what I am up to for now in my practise as well …
The weeks are moving at such a fast pace and so much is squeezed in that my blog is becoming long essays into my life. However , This is a good news blog!
Core gallery got some funding from Fenton Arts Trust with lots of thanks to the glorious Annabel Tilley for helping get that . I was so excited at this prospect of actually being able to pay artists for DIY Educate I nearly blacked out when I got the letter. It also means we can offer more on our DIY Educate programme. In addition we are also now able to offer students and recent graduates a half price discount on our membership. This means we can give more accessibility and for recent graduates the first year after graduation is when they are most vulnerable.
DIY actually launched over the weekend. It was a fab start Some feedback from one participant…. Just to say thank you so much for putting on engine chat chat on Saturday. It was great to meet everyone and to get some feedback on my work, I found it really useful and motivating as well as very stimulating, and really enjoyed the artists talk afterwards in the gallery also…. brilliant brilliant brilliant!
Our first nuts and bolts was packed to the rafters, 34 people (four travelled from Maidstone ). It was one of the best talks I feel I have ever given, everyone who came seemed so attentive and interested. Nick Kaplony and Jack Hutchinson joined me and they were amazing, it was a really relaxed and friendly environment full of anecdotes.
One of the most important parts was a discussion about rejection. I recounted a residency I applied for that I was not eligible for ( it was in very very very small print ) . I spent a long time working on the form, deciding what I was going to do with my practice. When I got the email to say I wasn’t eligible, I didn’t get cross, I thought, it does not matter, I will do everything I set out in my project. I will move my practice on and I have. I fulfilled my own residency. So failure and rejection can be turned around.
After the talk I spoke to people that came, they seemed so relived about being told the truth. Some told me that they had never been told this at art school – art school was just about making, however now that they had graduated they felt so lost because even if they had made fantastic work they were drowning in the complexities of real life in the art world. It made them feel inadequate and failures, which I very much doubt they were. This is a disservice for Art Schools to do that, they have to start addressing professional practice. It is very unfair, particularly if so many higher education institutes are putting up fees because they ‘ offer so much value’
Skin Job: Another fantastic exhibition curated by Andrew Bryant at Core Gallery Artists: James Prevett, Niklas Tafra, Chad Burt, Daniel Lichtman, Ciar??Dochartaigh, Adrianna Palazzolo and Miguel Pacheco The PV was jam packed – the South London Last Friday Art Map launched, that partnered importantly with a dynamic exhibition meant lots of excitement in the air. The curator/ artist talk on Saturday was informative and fascinating and allowed us tp spend more time interpreting the artwork. It is a rare pleasure to be told by an artist their processes. My role in this is to ask serious non art questions, such as ‘ so what did the Ukulele repairman think when you brought in a Ukulele you had smashed to pieces in a field in Holland…? ’ y’see accessible….. www.coregallery.co.uk