Graphic Grey

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Using our Resources

Last Thursday night I visited the fabulous new pop up exhibition curated by project/ten. Located in the wonderful victorian Morgan Arcade, the exhibition took over some unused solicitors chambers above the arcade.
plus a fabulous fireplace!

The rooms are amazing! Warren-like and filled with dated features, wallpaper and paint tidemarks where walls had been repainted without removal of furniture, they were the perfect backdrop to project/ten's choice selection of contemporary art.

The Gaze (left) and Feeling Too (sold)
Ruth McLees
Even better, though, was the thinking behind the use of this space. For a capital city, Cardiff has very few contemporary art galleries. Permanent exhibition spaces in prime locations are very costly to run and so gallerists either must try to rely on painting sales (and so charging high commission rates to artists) or charge extortionate 'hanging fees' to exhibitors in order to make ends meet. Not great for any of the parties involved, particularly in today's tough financial climate.

So what's the solution?

I've been thinking a lot recently about how best to use the resources already available to us as artists/community in order to realise projects with the minimum of cost. This way there's no expensive outlay or upkeep costs and so projects become sustainable and widely inclusive. Take project/ten's exhibition as an example: the space was already empty and unused and so perfect as a temporary exhibition venue, particularly attractive to the Morgan Arcade as the empty space was filled with attractive art for sale in the run up to Christmas. In addition, project/ten could use the space and then get out before the fallow months of January and February in which galleries make few sales but bills and rent still have to be paid. A wise move.

So here we have it. Arts Councils will have less money to support galleries and exhibitions, but it seems there will still be ways to make such projects and events happen. Think of the unused spaces in your area, the people that you know and the skills they have. What can you offer them in return for their help? All we need is a little resourcefulness and to start relying on ourselves to find solutions as opposed to waiting for handouts so we can make things happen.

The Gaze £900
Ruth McLees

Jon Oakes at project/ten

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Scamming of Artists

No one has any money, right? People are cutting costs, paring down their budgets and ditching everything that isn't absolutely necessary. Or at least that's what the more honest among us are doing in these straightened times. But I've been hearing more and more tales of unscrupulous scammers preying on the unwary just to keep their own pockets lined. And sadly the unwary at the moment seem to be artists.

Take for example the magazine reporter who turns up at a gallery's private view and photographs the event. A lovely spread of pictures then appears in a local publication, and as there has never been any mention of payment, the gallery is overjoyed with the free publicity. But wait... that's not the end of the tale. Years later the reporter has a change of heart and issues an invoice for payment threatening court action, conveniently coinciding with the credit crunch. Could it be that this reporter is now short of cash and preying on what is perceived as an easy target? Without documented proof of any agreement and against a tough gallery owner there's surely no way that the reporter will win here, but the threat of legal action could easily push the gallery to the point of caving in and paying the invoice out of fear just to make the problem go away.

In another such example the emerging artist is struggling to sell enough work to make ends meet. Desperate for publicity and with no spare cash he ends up being given a page in some crummy local paper in exchange for some of his best paintings. He is told the space is worth thousands and he's getting a GOOD DEAL. The advert generates nothing. He now has no paintings to sell as well as no money. The paper who now has the artwork is laughing. No way was the advertising space ever worth that much.

So who's at fault here? The scammers for sure, but the artworld must also wise up! Sure it can be hard making money sometimes, and I've had my fair share of feeling desperation in the past, but come on guys this is the real world. There really is no such thing as a free lunch, and one day you may find your 'freebies' coming back to bite you. Stand up for yourself, and if something seems too good to be true, well, it probably is. I think many artists are seen as easy targets. Business advice in art college is non existant so we have to make it up as we go along and try to hold our own in a tough commercial world. It's time to learn how to be tough, how to say no, how to avoid being pushed around. Don't give your work away for a promise; it's so much more valuable than that!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Christmas at Oriel Ty Coch

Fab work, fab gallery. Take a look for yourself at the gorgeous Christmas show.

Lots of gorgeous paintings, designer furniture and beautiful decorations and gifts. Oh, and my work looks amazing in the barn-like space!

Come along and see for yourself. And if you really can't choose what to buy, how about a gift voucher so your loved one can commission a painting or choose an artwork for themselves?