As a child I used to play in the garden shed whether or not the weather was inclement. It was full of stuff like hammers, and chisels, saws, even wooden fencing – I had to negotiate my way round these things and had cleared a space for me to sit at an old table, that must have been my first idea of a studio. I used to sit and paint, and read comics and dream, and make up games to play with other friends who would come round.
I guess it was in a way, also my first and only gallery. One spring day way back, after a recent spate of particularly good painting sessions (I thought they were!) I put up a notice on the front gate saying “This way to the exhibition at number 11 Gallery” (our house number). I chalked arrows down the garden path toward the shed and arranged mums old wooden clothes ‘horse’, a gatefold style thing that allowed me to peg my paintings in an outdoor extension of the exhibition by the shed door, where I had also strategically placed a bowl of freebie sweets bought with my pocket money .
Mum didn’t know, and the first recognition of anything that was going on was when neighbours started going past the kitchen door down to the bottom of the garden. I had roaring traffic all day and actually sold about 40%, although they were sold at a snip and I did accept a few toffee bars as collateral as well.
If only it was that simple – well perhaps it is?. After the #class last month a couple of people involved with it also set up a discussion about studio space – affordable space, makeshift ones – ideas people have thought up to get round the problem of extra rented space. And studios surely can double as exhibit space sometime, if, for example it is shared and there is enough room.
Affordable and realistic studio space still needs thought though, this is one area where other people’s experiences and adaptations can add to the mix – the people who set up the twitter discussion about affordable studio space, had some pretty interesting suggestions ranging from caravans, converted trailers, mini prefabs to, I think, a bus!…….It does seem a bit like horses for courses though, if you’re work has the potential to fill an aircraft hangar – then it’s that or compromise.
The exhibition space some of the NY #class artists along with other artists, are renting en-mass for a group exhibition called Escape from New York next month in a old silk mill over the river in New Jersey. They also have a similar idea, in as much as creating their own space to show.
There’s nothing wrong with galleries but for the sake of argument, I have a feeling there are far more works of art than actual gallery space, never mind the demographics of galleries clustering together in big cities. I am not going to delve into the area of good art and bad art for now, nor market forces and gallery tastes. But the fact is simple; so much art never sees the light of day, for even if the artist finds space to get messy or whatever, and can afford it, the other hurdle is finding space to show and hopefully to sell. Now, the NY exhibition looks as though it won’t fail in attracting people, dealers or buyers judging by the response many of the artists are already receiving about their work in the well-renowned-art-city.
Berlin’s art quarter and its almost inevitable morph after the Wall fell, into the bourgeois-boho arty district of recent times, shouldn’t really be sniffed at either. People are interested in paying money for works, it’s just the fact the few artists who are reaping the benefits of this interest, or should I say, being paid for their work instead of someone wanting their services for free, are overshadowing the many who are not.
So that’s Darwinism in action for you, you may say. But the property and rent also took a hike, creating a no-win situation, the collective creative vibe, if you like was whittled down to a few revered artists who were patronised by buyers and so could afford to stay – sort of ghettoising themselves in the process.
Auguststrasse, this was an artist squat circa ’92
There were some letters discovered recently written by Frances Bacon to his Dealer when he was starting out, constantly asking for advances and relating to real no food on the table problems, never mind affording his paint and materials (ok he had a gambling habit also) but it’s not a new concept. Eventually he made, or his works were sold for thousands; a wealthy man in his twilight years (quite lucky then!) some don’t get recognised till pushing up daisies. But writers are the same, affording the time to write before a book is sold, advances are not willingly given especially these days. Everybody wants their money up front.
I was lucky, as a child in my shed with plenty of time outside school hours to paint, my parents bought me my paints, and well – I was at quite an elementary stage – watercolours and rough brushes etc., the paper was fairly basic. I was also lucky to have a garden and shed to go to – I don’t have outside space like that now, living in the city centre, outside space is a premium but I have my garage with a sink, yup! that’s my artist’s studio!, but it does the job for what I am doing at the moment and I have a study with good light, so I’m certainly not complaining.
Any idea or initiative though, that is enabling for someone to carry out their work and facilitate the showing of it, has to get the thumbs up from me.
The Arts Council in the UK are apparently digitalising all of the collection that they have accumulated over the years, which are stored in warehouses waiting to have light of day when galleries send in a request. Only a small percentage get exhibition time, and the arts council believe by digitalising and grouping the works in an online gallery, this will not only show potentially hidden works but also generate the demand to be seen in real life.
I think this seems a really sound move, and really do think online virtual art has a place to offer the dilemma of where to show and what to do with it, storage isn’t the problem but viewing is.
If a sprawling thing like the Arts Council can get its act together online with all that work. Then it can’t be past some artists and groups and organisations to do a similar project.
There are things like Galleries Online that provide a service for free for the art community to join, there is a 15% commission if a buyer uses the insurance for them mediating in a 10 day acceptance period and release of money. But the buyer can choose to wave that fee and deal direct with the artist.
This though, even with the artist’s forum and blogs, gallery events, listings and additional connections, seems to be effectively a one-stop art shop albeit run by artists. It houses a lot of unrelated works (all categorised into groups like wildlife, sea, abstract, digital etc.,) and for me is a bit like a trawl round TK Maxx; a bit overwhelming with the sheer quantity. I’m not knocking it – it’s a really good site and venture, but for me it’s a bit like a needle in a haystack time.
I do like the idea of these virtual galleries. And even more the idea of the work already being partially curated (even if in a virtual site-specific place). In the way the works are juxtaposed, showing potential for group exhibitions. So that real life gallery owners wouldn’t have to fully curate, apparently this is a big draw for some galleries especially after a heavy run or season of exhibitions.
The artists already having acquainted themselves with each other’s work and a group exhibition almost seamless in waiting, it has to be a plus point from a real gallery’s point of view. 3D also seems to be the way to go, for sculptural as well as ‘flat’ surface images, not 3D interactive that is extremely ambitious and probably not necessary for online art-viewing (unless already interactive art). It will never replace the real thing but it is a sure way to generate group images for a convenient screen view with comparatively few overheads.
I’m keen on this idea and would certainly give it a go – the software for 3d is there – I think it will be a while though, before a curated self contained and maintained virtual site, with adequately reproduced and 3d built graphics will be within my miniscule techno brain’s sight, but once I get an idea going I tend to stick with it.
I would be interested to see how other artists first relate to each other’s work – that might be the start – when things click on that level. A basic, introduction style, 3D website with a sister site housing curated results….. hmmmmm
Artist seeking similar…….must have GSOH!
Back on Sunday……..