Saturday, June 20, 2009

Further thoughts on the UCA Farnham Summer Show

At the Summer Show I was keen to see what was happening in the Fine Art department. Overall, I was disappointed.

A few things struck me: one was the lack of painting - there were only 2 paintings in the whole Fine Art exhibition. The second was the conceptual nature of much of the rest of the work, with no obvious point of access into it. The third was that the artists were nowhere to be seen so there could be no dialogue with them.

In the Textiles department, the preparatory work and research was an integral part of the display, with the result that you could get a handle on what was being represented. Also, the designers generally hung around the exhibition and were willing to talk about their work. Perhaps the difference is that their work is more commercial and part of their development is learning how to explain ... and sell ... what they are doing.

If that's true, then I can only guess that the fine artists are not interested in personally presenting and selling their work.

It's not easy to read a picture. Or any piece of art. There's a visual language, set in a personal and cultural context, that needs to be understood - at least to some degree - if the work is to be appreciated. I know there's a school of thought that says a picture should be allowed to speak for itself, but I don't agree with that and it's not the approach I'm taking.

All this has made me think about what I'm doing.

For me, as I've mentioned before, it's about getting some ideas 'out there' to debate and test them - and hopefully improve them. My primary medium is the visual arts - though I won't be restricted to that.

I want there to be a conversation and a connection about those ideas. This may or may not result in a sale (though often it does).

I'm not sure a passive gallery display will ever achieve that.

I want to have conversations about my art in the studio, in a coffee shop, around the table ... preferably with lots of food and wine.

I'm figuring out how best to do that.

At one of my exhibitions, I complained that no -one asked me any questions or made any comments. Someone told me that they didn't think they were allowed to talk to the artist. I understand that - and the gallery environment can add to that sense of intimidation and unease. That's another reason I think it's important to find different ways of presenting art - at least in my case.

When I post my pictures on my blog, I don't do it like you're supposed to. The photos are pretty poor quality (though I want them to be better); I don't give any details of size, media, price or how to purchase should anyone wish to. I'm just giving a glimpse of what I'm doing and what I'm producing. I don't want my art to be reduced to a high-res image and a set of dimensions. I don't aim to sell art from this blog. I just use it to tell stories and give a bit of background and context.

I want to create environments and opportunities for people to see my pictures 'in the flesh'; to hold them, to touch them, to feel free to ask questions and make comments.

No pressure to buy ... just bear in mind that I'll die of hunger if you don't.

I think your pictures are very accessible but I also like to hear the stories as that gives added depth and richness. I like your idea although maybe I would prefer tea to wine but that's me.
Thanks Joanna. Tea's good too!
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