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Viewing single post of blog The Art of Deception


I’ve always been a person who makes the most of opportunities whenever they turn up, however improbable they might sound to other people. I love the sense of adventure and discovery that acting with a bit of serendipity at play always seems to bring me. I see myself as someone who thrives on saying ‘yes’ to life, rather than carefully considering all the reasons something may or may not be a good idea and in the meantime missing the moment.

I’m an artist, for god’s sake! – connecting with others through coincidence, chance and shared passions fuels my own sense of creativity and freedom – “I can do anything” I like to say to myself, “see, anything is possible, the world is a wonderful place…” It’s a massive part of my worldview.

So when I was first contacted back in October 2011 by an elderly Austrian lady who’d found my photographs online about meeting Agnes Martin, I was positively thrilled. “There goes that serendipity again” I said to myself – “connecting with people all over the world, isn’t it amazing?…” This lady said she had known Agnes Martin back in New Mexico in the 1970s and before that in New York when her work was unknown. She was currently writing a book about Agnes’ work and had found my photos (like the one above) online while doing her research. She thought they were wonderful and wondered if we could have a skype call to talk about them. I gladly agreed – “what a lovely thing to happen” – 6 degrees of separation and all that…

But what I didn’t realise at the time, was that this was the very first step of many hundreds of subsequent little steps that this friendly ‘friend of Agnes’ would take to gain my trust over the next 18 months – steps which would lead to me to see her as an arts professional who could help me with my career. I would later willingly hand over 50 pieces of my own artwork to her, and ultimately ‘lend’ her a irreplaceable handbound copy of my artists book on Agnes Martin to help her write her ‘book’, none of which she has ever returned or I believe has any intention of ever returning, despite getting the CID involved and eventually reluctantly reporting the matter as a case of international art theft. It turned out that she had been doing this type of thing with up and coming artists for years and was actually deported from the US by the FBI – she truly was a professional.

My interactions with her over the course of over 2 years would finally lead me to face up to the uncomfortable fact that, even in the professional art world, (or maybe especially in it?) not everything is what it seems and that not everyone has the best intentions.  Why should it be otherwise? That all sounds ridiculously naive even writing it down here! I’m glad to say I’m still taking opportunities and saying ‘yes’ to new experiences, but it’s taken me a whole year since my last contact with her to be able to ‘get over it’.

This blog is an attempt to revisit and learn from this experience and hopefully transform it in some way. It’s also perhaps a useful or cautionary tale for other artists…