What kind of a year has 2013 been for you?

Well… I’m not important enough to be interviewed, but the question really made me think about how my year has gone.

It has been a MASSIVE learning year. 2012 ended with my work appearing on a pretty high profile website but unfortunately they didn’t credit the photographer (not my fault). Instead of sending a polite email to me asking why he wasn’t credited, he wrote directly to the website demanding that all images were removed. So I started 2013 well pissed off but lesson No.1 learnt – only EVER use my own photographs of my work.

It was an apprehensive start with no exhibitions on the horizon and I began to worry.

Things picked up after Easter though when I was commissioned to do an installation for a church, which also involved workshops with a local school. Lesson No.2 – map out firm guidelines on what I want to be paid and include a contingency in case the project runs over in time and incurs extra costs (which it did)

A crazy late summer/early autumn, when I had too many projects and exhibitions on the go – trying to fit them round a full time job. Lesson No.3 Pace myself. Being in multiple exhibitions doesn’t achieve anything.

Work damaged in an open exhibition. I hadn’t read the small print and my work wasn’t insured. Lesson No. 4 – Insure work, read small print!

What has changed for the better and what, if anything has changed for the worse?
I value myself and my work more because of all of the above, so that’s definitely a change for the better. Personally, I don’t think anything has got worse. It’s all pretty good… now..

What do you wish hadn’t happened this year?
All of the mishaps (again as above) but then, if they hadn’t happened I wouldn’t have learnt as much.

What do you wish had happened this year, but didn’t?

The things I wish had happened this year take time and money, but as I have neither, I accept that I couldn’t make those changes.

What would you characterise as your major achievement this year and why?
I am now able to say with no qualms at all – ‘This is how much I charge for my work and this is how much it is worth’. Though I did learn the hard way. Setting up the exhibition in New York State for 2014 and achieving our target through crowdfunding was a massive achievement.

Is there anything you’d like to have done this year but haven’t?
I wish I had been able to go back to part time work as planned. This is something I would have liked to have done, but I’m too realistic about money so I don’t feel at this stage, that it was an option.

What would make 2014 a better year than 2013?
I already feel there’s a different air about it. I only have two things planned, but I feel that is more than enough. I won’t apply for anything else in the foreseeable future, I will concentrate on making and setting up an installation in NY and enjoy my short residency there. With the Barnaby Festival in summer too, that’s more than enough to concentrate on. I want to go out more and work less!


Crowdfunding…. OK, so we knew that they were going to take 5% commission (which worked out as £111) but yesterday Kickstater casually announced that they were also charging us £127 for bank changes. Unbelievable! It’s a huge blow to our fundraising effort, but they probably know that there’s very little choice in raising cash any other way, so they have us well and truly over a barrel.

On the positive side though, I had a very long Skype chat with Debra (our host in Jamestown) and Bruce (Basement Arts Projects Leeds) last night. Debra wants me to be there for the opening of SWAN: support women artist now http://www.jamestownupclose.com/home/2013/3/5/support-women-artists-now-in-jamestown-ny.html on 29 March, which is about 4 days earlier than I intended to go. It’s a good event to be involved in, but I’m not sure I can be that flexible with my time. I’ve ‘saved’ 7 days leave from this year, but I don’t want to take more than 7 out of next year as it will mean that I won’t be able to apply for anything else. I’ll just have to see what I can shift round in terms of my time.

Debra also said that there will be ‘lots of press opportunities’ and that we will be interviewed constantly. That’s great for some….but it kind of fills me with dread.


Surprising how many people think that the AIR Public Liability insurance also protects their artwork. I found this out through discussions with artists over the last few days.

I’m debating whether the value of my work will run into thousands… therefore I might have to think about forking out for the a-n one : www.a-n.co.uk/p/634060/ It is actually excellent for higher value works, as artist Carol Ramsay can testify when her Butterfly Park caravan (classed as an artwork) was vandalised last year, but maybe not for me.

My smaller works might be better with http://www.saa.co.uk/support/insurance.php if I can stomach the cheesy advert. Hey – I might even learn to paint!

I will be making changes in 2014 though. I value my work ( and myself!) too much now.


After my experience with damaged work, I’m now looking into what galleries offer in the way of insurance of works during exhibitions – especially Open exhibitions.

I’m picking three that are doing the rounds on facebook at the moment, as ‘must do’ entries (in the eyes of the facebooker artists that is !)

So first, a local one to me is the Williamson Open Exhibition 2014. £5 per work, handing in dates 3-5 January. I looked at the entry form and clearly stated in their entry conditions:

7. All works entered should, if required, be insured against loss or damage while on the premises of the WilliamsonArtGallery & Museum.

Well Done Williamson Art Gallery for mentioning it. ( though why isn’t work covered in the gallery?)

Next is http://www.beerscontemporary.com/opencall/ There is a processing fee of £10 to submit which includes the cost of all 4 images. No mention at all about insuring your own work, but you can email them I suppose. I would be weary of this one ( now being the cynic I am)

OK – Oriel Davies : http://www.orieldavies.org/open2014? Download the conditions and you find:

Artists are responsible for the transport arrangements of their works. Costs incurred in couriering works to and from the Gallery cannot be met by the Gallery. Artists should insure their work while in transit both ways ensuring that it is adequately packed. Oriel Davies Gallery will cover insurance while work is in its care only. The selling price will be used as the insurance value. As any insurance claim will be subject to an excess of £500, artists are advised to cover the excess amount with their own insurance. The Gallery reserves the right not to display work that has been damaged in transit.

That seems very fair to me. Couriering can be an issue ( as some artists who entered Jerwood – me included, can testify) but that all seems very clear. (I find £15 per entry is a bit steep, but knowing that some of that money goes towards insurance is comforting)

This is all very interesting so I’ll keep researching…..


I think the situation over my work being damaged in a gallery is now resolved, so I can finally, in the words of a-n’s Susan Jones, ‘pass on my wisdom’.

I’m not going to fit all of the correspondence into the 700 words we can put in our blogs, so I’ll try to condense it putting it into some sort of order.

22 November. Received email that my work was damaged.

25 November, after receiving advice from Susan, I wrote back to the gallery. It wasn’t wording I would use and I felt a little uncomfortable with it to be honest. ‘Once my assessment has been completed I will be able to give you my estimated costs for repair or remaking the work’. (While in my mind I was thinking ‘oh I’m sorry, I’m useless, my work is rubbish. Please walk all over me :-( )

28 November. Meeting at gallery. The work was beyond repair.

2 December. Sent an invoice based on the work taking me 6 hours to repair (@£25 an hour) plus one hour to source new material (£25) Total £175

4 December. Response from gallery:

Thank you for sending the invoice in but unfortunately we will be unable to pay you that amount for the repair. I think it is best that we negotiate the amount before you submit another invoice.

I appreciate that you need to completely rebuild the house and source the right material but your request for £175.00 is above the value of the work you had on sale in the Open exhibition.

The on the wall price was £200, of which 30% was the galleries commission, therefore the total you would have received would have been £140 if it had sold.

Could you provide me with records of sales of similar work at and around this price please? If I decide to go through our insurance company they will only repay if the artist has proof of similar sales and that the work is proven to be valued at that amount.

This is where I realised that I had grossly undervalued the work when I put the sale price of £200. I rarely do work for sale and as this was a new line of work for me, I had nothing to compare it too.

I didn’t know what to do at this stage and really wanted to back down.

5 Dec

With further advice, I stressed that that this was the value of my work and received the following response:

Thank you for your email.

I appreciate the time it will take to repair the work but your invoice fee is above the cost of the original work, which was £140. As to the conversation on the 28th, I suggested you take the piece home and evaluate the damage and let me know the cost and then invoice me.

The Museum is not prepared to pay over the amount originally stated. The work was not completely destroyed and therefore we cannot pay above the cost it was on sale for.

6 Dec

At this point (and I hasten to add that no way in the world would I have normally said this)

I wrote:

Thanks for your email.

I have now had time to give the conversations and correspondence between us some consideration. In order to settle the matter and move on, I will accept your offer to pay the sale price of my art work less your commission (£140). I am therefore attaching my revised invoice and payment terms for that amount.

It was like lighting a fuse and standing back.

9 Dec

Unbelievably, I recieved this response:

I have sent your invoice through to our finance team for payment.

I am still of the opinion that £100 would have been a fairer amount for the repair of your work but, as you say, it is best to move on.

I can’t believe that this has been resolved. To stand firm and continuously state ‘this is what my work is worth’ and to not be a victim was so alien to me.

So… lessons learnt and I’m now going to read the a-n Practical guide on negotiation from start to finish!