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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

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