Being in the middle of a studio move, I’ve not had time to post anything about the New Artist Fair, in which I showed some work earlier this month. This was the first time I have taken part in an art fair, and it was quite an education. After observing how the crowds interacted with the works, and seeing how the more experienced exhibitors displayed their work, I soon learned some valuable lessons about presentation and “product placement”.
As for this particular fair, I found it to be very well organised – the organisers are very friendly and obviously interested in Art. The pricing is reasonable, and at no stage did i feel that I was being ripped off – there were no hidden extras to surprise you on the day. The fair was very well attended on each of the three days, which shows just how well the organisers promote the event.
Despite all my praise, I am not sure if I would take part in it again. When I booked, I was told there were only 2m spaces left, which is more suited to smaller works. The biggest problem with having such a small space was that I couldn’t sit or stand in front of my work without obstructing the view of half my paintings. The fair enjoyed a healthy number of sales over the three days, but most of them will have been for lower value items under £250. The only piece I sold was a smaller portrait at under £200 – I feel that the £400-£500 prices of most of my work are not that attractive to impulse buyers. I would only consider taking part again if I had a larger selection of smaller works that I could offer at more affordable prices, and perhaps some prints and drawings.
My lasting impression from this event was the pleasure of meeting such a nice group of artists, who were all so friendly and helpful, and helped make the fair such an enjoyable experience. A special thanks to Sam Gare,Precious Murphy, Pete Fraser, Frances Bloomfield, Tolu Magbagbeola and Ruby Lewis, who have restored my faith in the artistic fraternity.
Last week I paid a visit to my local art gallery, WOA, to see local Southend artist Becky Walker putting up her multimedia art installation. It seemed to involve the use of a couple of projectors, what seemed to be miles and miles of clingfilm, and possibly beer cans.
I thought it brave of the gallery to give free rein to the artist to put on this event, which included rearranging the displayed artwork to suit her installation. The gallery was open all the time, and it was interesting viewing the reaction of a couple of visitors while I was there. This particular gallery puts a great importance on the active involvement of their participating artists; it positively encourages it. As such it is a great opportunity for emerging and local artists. Especially those who work in the multimedia field, who might otherwise have difficulty finding suitable venues for their offerings. And to be able to put on a show in an open gallery along quite a busy road.., well, that’s priceless.
The WOA gallery currently has openings for artists. The fee they charge, £20/month, really only covers costs, and as I said, they are always looking to host events. Any enquiries should be directed to Jon or Carra at the address below. More details can be found on their website.
You can visit the WOA gallery @
28 Hamlet Court Rd, Westcliff-on-Sea,
Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, SS0 7LX,
I have just finished hanging my work at WOA (WestcliffOnArt) gallery for their December show. I did enjoy the fact that it’s only five minutes walk from my house, so I didn’t have to struggle on trains and underground to get my work to it’s destination. I’m pleased with how the arrangement has worked out. I don’t often get a chance to exhibit my portraits, and I thought it quite apt that the portraits I have on show are of the three models who have worked with me on most of my recent paintings.
I’m looking forward to the “Opening” for the show, which will be on Saturday the 6th December. Their Facebook event page says:
“Cordially requesting your esteemed attendance for a night of artistic appreciation – more than seven new artists to the gallery showing work – violin, guitar of varying qualities, and some wine.”
Not sure if I should be more alarmed by the “guitar of varying qualities” or the mention of “some wine”. The gallery owners/curators, Jon and Carra, seem nice people to do business with. Their business model seems very fair and reasonable to the artist; quite unlike so many of the “opportunities for artists” out there, which are no more than schemes to exploit and fleece artists.
28 Hamlet Court Rd
I have just arranged to have one of the walls in my local gallery, WestcliffOnArt, for their December show. The gallery hasn’t been open for long. It looks like a nice, inviting space, and I’m happy with the wall I have been allocated. They also use the gallery for workshops, which I always think is a nice idea. Art galleries have a terrible reputation for being elitist, uninviting places, so It’s nice when you come across galleries that are opening their doors to the public.
The gallery website can be found here, and their Facebook page is here.
I have just received notification that my piece “Relationships Series – Kirsty and Beth” has been accepted for the Sweet’Art show “Guilty Pleasures”, to be held at Juno, in Shoreditch, from the 6th November.
It poses an interesting dilemma, as the private view happens to be on the 6th November – the same night as the official opening of Street Corner Gallery (edit: re-named Project Space). Well, it’s a nice problem to have.
Founded in 2012, Sweet ’Art’s mission is dedicated to the promotion of artists at all levels of their career through the delivery of thought provoking, engaging and fun site specific exhibitions and live art events with a difference.
Alongside the planned program of events, artists are invited to join Sweet ’Art and be part of a growing network of artists enabling them to showcase work online and be in touch with other members of Sweet ‘Art.
Sweet ‘Art is dedicated to the promotion of art that is thought provoking, intelligent and challenging in its consideration of both aesthetic and concept.
Sweet ‘Art embraces all disciplines of work and encourages artists in a process of exploration, challenge and debate when considering their own practice and that of others.
I’ve had a nice run lately where I’ve had paintings hanging on a wall somewhere or other, all through the year. Although it’s nice – in fact, it is the main reason I paint – every exhibition opportunity costs money, even if it’s just transporting the paintings to and from the gallery. With maxed out credit cards, I’ve started to think more about which opportunities offer value for money. I don’t see much point in going to a lot of trouble and expense to get your work shown, unless it’s actually going to be seen by people interested in Art.
Competitions and Open exhibitions. I’d grown a bit tired of these, with their inconsistent judging, over-crowded opening nights and awful cheap wine. I used to go to the openings in the vain hope that I’d have a chance to meet collectors and curators, but the only people I would find were either other artists, or friends of artists, or friends of friends of artists. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the ArtGemini Prize early this year. Apart from having a nice selection of work, it was in a very nice gallery (Rebecca Hossack Gallery, Conway St., London), and the opening was a bit classier than the usual affair. Great selection of cocktails, no cheap wine, and some interesting introductory speeches before the prize giving. I’ll probably enter this one again, if I have any paintings available.
Art Society open exhibitions. I’m decidedly wary of these. If you’ve ever submitted work to one of the many such exhibitions hosted by the Mall Galleries, and queued up outside with all the other hopeful artists, you will realise just how many entries these exhibitions attract. What they don’t make so clear, before they take your entry fee, is that most of the selected work will in fact be by society members, not leaving many spaces available for all those fee paying hopefuls. Just seems like a way for them to fund their little exhibitions.
Having said all that, I was quite impressed by what I saw of the Chelsea Art Society Open. I submitted a painting to their show earlier this year, and had it turned down. If I’d done my research, I would have realised it just wasn’t suitable for that show. I’d originally wanted to enter the show as I remember working in the venue, the Old Town Hall, in my previous life as a painter/decorator. It’s a lovely building, nicely situated along the Kings Road. The entry fee is reasonable, and I like the way judging is completed the same day as the paintings are delivered, and so you don’t have to wait an age before you can collect unselected work. When I collected my unwanted piece, it was the Society President, Luke Martineau, who took me to my painting. He offered some really good advice, and was very helpful. I’ll definitely try to enter this one again. They seem genuinely interested in inviting other artists to exhibit with them, rather than just make a profit out of them, which sadly is the norm.
Group exhibitions. I’ve been involved in a number of these. There was the After Adam show a few years back, which was a nicely curated selection of paintings by three artists whose main focus was the human form. Unfortunately it was in a wholly inappropriate venue, and it’s only real value was as another line on my cv, which is a shame. I’ve been involved in a couple of more lively events this year. Stomach#2, Hoxton Arches, which was a one night show, and Open Wall at Façade, London Wall. Both were great opportunities to meet other artists – not that I’m any good at the networking thing. Sometimes it’s just nice to meet other artists, and learn they’re having the same problems you are!
More recently I’ve had the opportunity to show my work at Cultivate Evolved, an artist run space on Vyner Street, London. It was quite a revelation going up there on a First Thursday, and seeing a steady procession of people walking through the small gallery all evening. Having worked hard to get my work shown in a number of venues this year, only for my handiwork to hang on the wall of an empty gallery for two or more weeks, unnoticed by anyone, it was a real joy to see so many people casting their eyes over my efforts. No matter that most of them walk straight past. What does matter, and is what makes it all worthwhile – the struggling without money, as it’s all spent on paints, canvases and models fees – the sleeping on a sofa for months, as I’ve had to rent my bedroom out to a lodger in order to pay the bills – the constant struggle with my Art – what makes it all worth while is when someone takes the trouble to stand in front of one of my paintings, and really takes the time to look at it.