What it is to be an ’emerging artist’ trying to establish a practice today … and, what is an emerging artist, anyway?
Yes Emily Speed you started a positive trend in 2010 ….
The annual Summing Up
1. No SUGAR! I gave up sugar for a whole year [minus alcohol]. Feel marvellous. Sugar addiction fixed! I ate no biscuits, cakes, chocolate, sweets or Xmas pud etc. Absolute bloody miracle!*
Only made possible by new passion for work with:
2. Rosalind Davis – Brilliant, intelligent, funny, passionate, generous & the Marketing Queen. I have learned so much ….
3. Show&Tell 2011 @ Core Gallery. Great gathering & generous sharing of artists knowledge by Freddie Robins, Edwina Ashcroft, Andrew Bryant, Lucy Day & Eliza Gluckman, Graham Crowley, Delaine Le Bas, Lucy Austin & Jenny Wiener to name but a few.
4. ZAP The sad demise of Core Gallery, founded by Rosalind Davis but the fortuitous birth of ZeitgiestArtsProjects to take the vision, for supporting artists with shared knowledge & generosity, forward and expand it together.
5. AIR Being elected to the AIR Council
6. Berlin Going to Berlin – ‘just like that!’ and creating a wall drawing for Anschlussel London/Berlin at fruehsorge contemporary drawing curated by Andrew Hewish from the Centre for Recent Drawing, London.
7. I discovered Twitter! I love it. Easy, quick, efficient for putting news, ideas & images out there, meeting new friends and having a good giggle. Brilliant invention. Downside: I neglected my blog but who has time to write 500 words when 140 characters can do it too.
8. I created my first ‘flower’ drawings: Rememberance of plants past. A breakthrough in my drawing. Realised I wanted to work from books – old books with black and white pictures to draw from & literature like Proust – with brilliant ideas in words that can be turned into visual feasts. A turning point. Helped by tutorials with artist, Graham Crowley.
Best Moments etc
Best moment Changing trains at Canary Wharf and Rosalind Davis saying: ‘Let’s do it …. let’s start a new organisation together!’ Pre-birth of ZAP [Approx. 3pm, Wed 9 Oct 2011]. And later that day: Best mini-moment Sitting on London-bound train from Colchester after Market Projects: ‘Too Many Artists’ event [especially brilliant Alex Pearl performance] at Firstsite with Professor John Hutnyk, Julie Freeman & Rich White etc drinking ice-cold G&Ts courtesy of Ros, and discussing the rise and demise of the YBAs.
Best achievement Being elected onto the AIR Council. Finding out people had bothered to vote – in droves!
Best Feeling Being picked to create a wall drawing by Andrew Hewish (C4RD) for Anschlussel London/Berlin at fruehsorge contemporary drawing – a one-off drawing survey show.
Best Idea ZeitgeistArtsProjects – ZAP. Finally coming up with a name for our new organisation inspired by recent events: the inspirational Sluice Art Fair and the Alisn conference at Goldsmiths for Emerging arts independents.
Best ‘feeling moved’ moments Curating Home Exhibition with Ros and realising all our effort and work had been so worth it. Thanks to the artists: Rose Wylie, Lucy Austin, Freddie Robins, Graham Crowley, Carolyn Lefley, Kate Murdoch, Delaine Le Bas, Peter Davis, Rich White & Rosalind Davis.
Celebrating drawing in Berlin in France with English & French family & friends
2012 – Things to celebrate
1. Excited to be starting new body of work as I draw my way through the history of English painting in a series entitled: Re-draw. The series will literally involve redrawing classic paintings from history, in images drawn from old b/w books about English painting. I.e The Connoisseur New Guide to English Painting & Sculpture, pub. 1962 etc.
2. The Launch and future development of ZietgeistArtsProjects with Rosalind Davis at our new premises in South London with a fantastic 2012 Show&Tell programme of speakers & events we have lined up inc. Sarah Williams (Jerwood), Ben Street & Karl England (Sluice Art Fair) & Andrew Hewish (C4RD) artists: Susan Collis, Phoebe Unwin, Virgina Verran & Alex Pearl etc.
3. ZAP support: Lewisham Arts Services confirming a grant for two artists seminars to be held at Goldsmiths in March & the brilliant continued support of the Fenton Arts Trust
4. Taking my new role in the AIR Council forward
5. Starting The Drawing Group with fellow draw-er Jack Hutchinson
5. No more sugar ever!
6. Celebrating 20 brilliant years of being married to TheGoodHusband.
Conclusion: How to live & how to emerge –
Create & maintain relationships & sustain them through generosity & time!
* mentioned on Radio 4 last week as major new trend for 2012 – ‘Giving up sugar’
how to emerge?
Blogging versus Tweeting?
Last night I attended a talk at the Peckham Space led by Andrew Bryant on the subject of blogging. The blogger-speakers were Alex Pearl and Aliceson Carter. Long before the talk, and in my own mind, and on Twitter, the talk for me had become a debate on the merits of blogging versus tweeting.
Probably, because, until this week, I hadn’t blogged for 158 days.
In reality it was a talk on blogging, with a couple of us louder audience members pointing out the merits of Twitter, not least, for sign-posting your blog!
In Andrew’s Bryant’s introduction it was interesting to hear some of the reasons why people read or write blogs today:
‘a window onto someone’s practice’
‘a place for discussion & dialogue’
‘a way of reflecting on one’s own practice, and also as an extension of one’s practice’
I have only come to Alex’s blog ‘Redundant Alex’ recently, and through his own sign-posting on Twitter. In it he talks about everything but art, except in an off-hand way to comment on the creation or demise of certain pieces – cress-based, and proun to life and death at the whim or forgetfulness of the grower. It is self-deprecating, humourous and, occasionally, reading between the lines of this character, Alex, as he cleans the house, and gets rejected from commissions he was personally rung-up and urged-on to take, poignant and moving.
Alex gave a really good talk: a talk he told us (without irony?) his girlfriend, Annabel, had written for him – in the third person. So, as he pointed out, it was like reading out your own obituary! I was listening too hard to write much down:
‘I don’t talk about Art much in my blogs, more about my life around it ….’
‘Nowadays it is quite fashionable to think about the back-room place of an artist’.
‘I hide behind the pretense that it may or may not be real.’
And my favourite, on the number and variety of blogs: ‘They are like me quite unsure about what they are.’
He also mentioned that he tries to end on a cliff-hanger!
Now I will now go in search of Aliceson Carter’s blog, which I don’t know.
Thinking about the ‘me, me, me’ culture and the art of self-promotion, it occurred to me that the days of an artist sitting in their studio waiting to be discovered are long gone, now there are so many artists – or would that be: too many artists? As Market Projects recently asked – that artists have been forced to take steps to bring themselves to the attention of others – artists, curators, gallerists, press etc.
A decade ago all the talk was about having a website, now that is so passive (although still necessary) then about five years ago it became about blogging and now it’s Twitter.
But the irony is that each one, faster and less labour-intensive then the last, leads one with perfect symmetry from one to another and back again.
An artist makes work, they place pictures on their website, they write on their blog, they tweet a message that they have written a new blog piece, the blog piece links them to the website, and the website provides Twitter/or other links with the artist.
More recently this has been interrupted with the introduction of pictures straight onto the Twitter site. The end of writing? The beginning of pictures with twitter-length captions – comic book/zine world? Indeed, in a recent Garageland call-out proposal I suggested writing tweet-length answers to big questions, mainly because I wanted to see if it was possible, and what would happen if one limited oneself to around 140 characters? Would ideas become such small nuggets of information, they could only be formed into questions to make any sense, and create the usual Twitter-type banter. I felt rising panic as I pressed the send button, it seems an impossible feat.
Finally: Why do we tweet? Because it’s like texting but better because you have a whole audience!
Why do we blog? Because writing into the silent ether can also be satisfying.
how to emerge?
What has Sluice taught us – Be independent but work together!
By attending this year’s impressive Sluice Art Fair, and taking part in the Twitter/blog/pub conversations that immediately ensued, I believe many of us, including independents like Core Gallery, have become unoffical participators in an exciting, and as yet undefined, movement that heralds the beginning of a new era of generosity and collaboration between networks of like-minded artist-led spaces who are just beginning to understand the power of solidarity.
Sluice art fair is an example of how when times get hard: the sparkling rhetoric of the commercial galleries – as represented by Frieze – begins to recede, making way for the less glitzy, purer [and poorer!] artist-led concerns to present an alternative way forward. Hayley Harrison summed this up poignantly in her a-n Artist’s Talking blog: Something’s Happening*, when she suggested that we cease to talk about ‘the art world’ but rather begin to call ourselves ‘an art community’. Thanks to Ben Street & Karl England and their innovative spirit, I believe that ball is now firmly rolling.
Indeed, Core Gallery, is now looking forward to attending another gathering of the innovative artist-independent clans at the Conference for Emerging Art Organisers in Goldsmiths on Thursday 24 November.
The place to be!
* Hayley Harrison, Something’s Happening #25 [17 Oct 2011] www.an.co.uk/p/1299464/
What is Painting?
[how to emerge … from the cultural weight of painting]
I want to respond to David Trigg’s call for less categorization in the arts. Starting with the idea that a Jerwood Painting Fellowship could become a more contemporary and inclusive: ‘Jerwood Artist Fellowship.’
I couldn’t agree more; why do we feel the need to continue to label the various art forms? Control? Tradition? Exclusivity? Money? That’s a big question.
However, occasionally, the emphasis on one type of art form can be useful. The last decade has done wonders for drawing, in terms of raising its status, and causing it to be considered independently from painting. Drawing has always been appreciated by artists as something special, that old ‘window into the artists mind/soul’ etc. Rather a clichéd, sentimental approach. Equally, it has often been sidelined or dismissed as an appendage to painting, the sketch for the real thing etc. However, thanks to enlightened educators, once you could do an MA or BA [Wimbledon/Camberwell] in Drawing or enter a competition like The Jerwood Drawing Prize, gallerists and the public begun to take it seriously as the profound and flexible medium it is. This has been extremely important for not just reinterpreting the history of drawing but also, it’s future status.
Today, I am happy to say, drawing just is.
However, art schools, due to financial constraints, are turning back to less specialised courses, often simply entitled: Fine Art. Yet, this might not be a bad thing. Allowing different mediums to integrate, reassert themselves and lessen the obsession we have with painting, and the secretly-held-belief that ‘real’ artists only paint [and maybe sculpt!].
Ten years ago, people were asking: What is drawing? Recently, I suspect the question has become: What is painting? Especially in the wake of this first year of Jerwood Painting Fellowships and its thought-provoking legacy in the work of Mitten, Nahaul & Till. Work that shouts loudly for David Trigg’s idea of a clear and simple: ‘Jerwood Artist Fellowship’
And, can we have more of them, please … three is not enough.
See: When is Painting Not a Painting? By David Trigg on The JVA Blog
‘Only in the making can things happen.’
Wonderful quote from Michael Atavar’s exquisite, earnest, philosophical and wry book: HOW TO BE AN ARTIST.
And each time I begin to draw, those words become a revelation on the page ….
Jerwood: Attended the Jerwood Painting Fellowships last week. Is it a coincidence but the artists – three women – seem to be reinventing painting. Painting as painting by Cara Nahaul, painting as collage by Clare Mitten and and painting as photography by Corinna Till. An imaginative show – that stretches the idea of what painting is, and can be, and not with a loud, yah, boo, sucks attitude or in a macho let’s counter: painting is dead fashion but in a quiet, thoughtful, sincere way, that an investment of time – 6 months – and money – £10,000 – from the new Jerwood Painting Fellowships has enabled. On until 26 June at Jerwood Space, 171 Union Street, London Se1. And then touring.
Proust: I am reading Proust – Rememberance of Things Past. À la recherche du temps perdu, (In Search of Lost Time). A novel in 7 volumes, and first published in France between 1913-27. Have tried before but never got past first 100 pages – so doing six times better now – and enjoying it. Friends have variously commented: ‘Why?’ & ‘Wow!’.
Top tips to self: Don’t try too hard!
It is a time-consuming occupation, give yourself time – a year or two.
Endeavouring to keep the sense of a long sentence in one’s mind, from beginning to end, is often impossible and frustrating.
Let the words and images enter your mind like music or poetry
Strive for essence rather than meaning
But the great news is …. after a few hundred words you realise there is meaty, twisting, turning plot, afterall!
Funny, no-one mentions that … but they often mention the infamous madeleine-scene, which happen right at the beginning.
Also, at hand, I have Eric Karpeles’s volume ‘Paintings in Proust’. What a culture-vulture that Marcel was, so many words, so many artists, so many works of art described in words – from Botticelli to Turner, Da Vinci, and Gozzoli to Whistler – which gives you a hunger for seeing the real thing. Art history as natural curiosity!
Drawing: Engaged in new large scale drawing derived from a 1950’s Encyclopaedia of Plant Portraits. Fascinated by the composite small b/w photographs that range from 2 inch flowers to 300ft trees. Scale and variety, mesmerising. Working on large roll of 300gm Fabriano (Grosso). Surely the Rolls Royce of paper.
Title: ‘Rememberance of Plants Past (hand-drawn extracts from: The Encyclopaedia of Plant Portraits compiled by A. G. L. Hellyer, 1953)’. [See details of images above].
Show & Tell: I am currently organising a series of talks entitled: Show & Tell at Core Gallery, Deptford, where we ask artists to tell us through words and images how they got where they are today. Jenny Wiener was our first speaker. I think the audience enjoyed it so much, because JW was generous and honest in the telling of her story, the highs and lows, the joy and disappointments of being an artist today. We all learned something.
Next up (May 31) will be painter, Graham Crowley – chaired by Rosalind Davis. And in July (5) I will be chairing the talk by another massively talented and original painter, recently with work in the British Art Show, Phoebe Unwin. Can’t wait!
I sold two drawings earlier this month – hurrah – best feeling in the world!
Had lunch with the artist, Susan Collis, yesterday and found myself saying:
‘I am still emerging … and probably will be until I’m ninety!’