40 years of supporting artists

a-n was founded in 1980 as Artists Newsletter, a grassroots 500-copy-a-month publication offering practical support to visual artists. In its 40 years, a-n has grown to become the UK’s largest artists’ membership organisation, representing more than 21,000 practising artists and lobbying on their behalf through high-profile campaigns, such as the Paying Artists campaign and sector-wide guidance.

To mark our 40th anniversary year, we have produced a new series of Artists Newsletter publications alongside a specially-commissioned series of interviews with artists from the a-n archive, titled 40 Years 40 Artists. This year-long programme of activity delves into the rich history of the a-n archive, while also exploring the issues, ideas and areas of practice that are important to visual artists today.

Artists Newsletter

We have commissioned four new online editions of Artists Newsletter, each focusing on a different decade of a-n’s history. Published in January 2021, Artists Newsletter #1: The 1980s is guest edited by members of the Birmingham-based collective Black Hole Club and explores topics from artists’ working rights and identity politics, to activism, digital arts practice and accessibility.

For Artists Newsletter #2: The 1990s, published in March 2021, Guest Editors Catherine Bertola and Rosie Morris give a platform to women artists and writers to highlight less visible, marginalised and precarious practices.

With a nostalgic nod to the visual culture of the noughties, for Artists Newsletter #3: The 2000s, which was publishe din June 2021, Guest Editor Shy Bairns puts a focus on collectives and how artists work together to build their own art worlds.

And in Artists Newsletter #4: The 2010s, published September 2021, Guest Editor Holly Willats took inspiration from the most recent decade to focus on how social media has become a game changer for artists’ practices. Included are features and art works created for the publication, while a specially commissioned podcast and Instagram takeover expand the contents to the online platforms where artists now share ideas and disseminate works.

40 Years 40 Artists

40 Years 40 Artists is a specially-commissioned series of conversations with artists that feature in a-n’s archive. Conducted by writer Louisa Buck, the interviews chart a-n’s evolution over four decades, providing insight into a broad spectrum of artistic careers, and reflect on issues past and present.

The first 10 interviews focus on artists who came to prominence in the socially and politically turbulent 1980s and whose work engaged with urgent issues of the time, including LGBTQ+ rights, the miners’ strike and riots against institutional racism and unemployment. Featured artists: Sunil GuptaLis RhodesAntony GormleyMagdalene OdundoRichard WilsonAnne BeanChila Kumari Singh BurmanKeith PiperMona Hatoum, and Brian Catling.

The second set of interviews is with artists who featured in a-n’s archive in the 1990s: Bobby Baker, Lubaina Himid, Yinka Shonibare, Dorothy Cross, Franko B, Grayson Perry, Rachel Whiteread, Jane and Louise Wilson, Richard Billingham and Gary Hume.

The third set of interviews is with artists who appeared in a-n in during the 2000s: Barby AsanteForest and FoundHarold OffehLarry AchiampongMark TitchnerRat TrapCornelia ParkerBedwyr Williams and Jasleen Kaur.

The final set of interviews focuses on artists who appeared in a-n during the 2010s: David ShrigleyZarah HussainTai ShaniRyan GanderPrem SahibGeorge ShawGaadaRachel Maclean and Gina Birch.

a-n at 40

London-based Norwegian artist Maria Hatling was selected from an open call to a-n members to create the celebratory 40th anniversary logo. Complementing the celebrations, this year a-n’s membership offer also includes the opportunity for members to apply for one of five Artist Bursaries in partnership with Liverpool Biennial. We have also launched a new legal service, giving members access to a free legal and tax helpline, resources and workshops.

Artists Newsletter and interviews with artists are available to read at a-n.co.uk/an40

Not yet a member? Find out more and join a-n today