Before I get to the crux of what I have to say I want to make it perfectly clear that I think Shape Arts do some amazing work in the areas of Disability and Equality. However I was a little dismayed to read a call for submissions with a £10 fee.
As a fulltime self-employed artist I have witnessed an increase in Pay to Display opportunities. In a similar way the number of unpaid/or very poorly paid internships has increased and thankfully we are moving to limit and legislate these.
In which other areas would you pay to do what you do – as it is we have seen opportunities decrease and fees shrinking in tandem for freelance artists.
Bodies funded and sponsored then requiring submission fees wether selected to exhibit or not– what does this cover? Is that not already covered by Arts Council England or other partnerships and sponsorships? If not then why not, why should the artist bare the cost? Shape does fantastic work but what I am surprised at is that, and if I may use a Twitter hash tag – The Hardest Hit – are being asked to pay again. All I am asking is if you are going to the lengths of having an art exhibition then please – put the artist first.
Then again artists are responsible for the cost of getting their work to and from the collection points – again expenses to be met by the artist – and then have the luxury of a 40% commission on sales. Are we not trying to be professional artists and support them – surely some of that support must be in curating and showing work that can be supported practically and financially or we merely contribute to maintaining the status quo. Pallant House and their Outside In Biennial of Outsider Art is a shining example of putting the artist first. I wonder why this model cannot be replicated elsewhere – or in this case particularly.
I wonder about the motivation in general for submission fees, what does that say about where we place artists in the art world and society as a whole?
This is the beginning of a dialogue for me. I have not mentioned things such as wanting to show my work in context, being proactive about who I show with and where, how does showing in a particular exhibition develop not just my career but my practice?
I would be interested to hear your views on ‘Pay to Display’
After having had a bleak first part of the year - as is well documented here - i now find myself flitting from one thing to another. I am pleased, really pleased. about this - but i know how fragile it all is in this current climate.
I am doing an Engage Everyone residency at DCA in Dundee. It's got a fab print room. I am looking at issues of engagement - why don't people access or engage with contemporary art. - people with disabilities that is. Another artist is looking at physical disabilities. Needless to say I am looking at the mental stuff.
In an attempt to normalise mental health I thought I would do a series of newspaper headlines from my fictional paper 'The Daily Compulsion'. Man puts left shoe on first. Very tame I know but it gives you an idea (if my right shoe goes on first I have to put them both on take them off then put them on properly with the left shoe first.) but I want more stories about significantly impairing, embedded etc.
I am looking for your input in the form of your stories about the things you do. Not just the C's from OCD but the rituals we have around the day to day or special. I will make you anonymous and immortalise you outside the DCA as a newspaper headline to a fictional paper. I am also thinking of making a book of them too. There are the - man checks front door is locked - normal stuff everyone does but which can be a behaviour of something else. If you would like to contribute please send to mailoto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be greatly appreciated.
It has been quite interesting getting people to look at things from a mental health point of view - i engage with spaces psychologically mostly - and then physically. I have already written on the nature of engagement with a space at http://engageeveryone.tumblr.com/
I return to DCA for another 2 weeks at the beginning of October. Meanwhile I am currently installing my solo show at The Art House, Wakefield which opens tomorrow - 28/9 and is part of the Wakefield art walk.
We live in difficult times. The National Portfolio funding came out – a few of the organisations we are all familiar with suffered. Arcadea – my local disability arts organisation didn’t get any funding at all. Geof Armstrong is at the helm and steering through the storm admirably.
How can the Arts Council claim to be promoting disability and disabled artists in the region (let alone nationally). How can it just ignore a whole cohort of artists, audience, producers etc in the North East? This decision leaves Manchester or Liverpool or Wakefield as my ‘locally’ funded organisations. But enough of that.
I was fortunate enough to meet Elinor Urwin from the Art House in Wakefield to go through some of my rejected applications. This was a brilliant – if not a bit difficult – use of an afternoon. There was so much material – so many rejections – to choose from. To have some simple pointers and some incisive analysis on my approach was invaluable. It is difficult to get feedback from applications, though I always try. Yet it is so contradictory. 'Too conceptual'; 'not conceptual enough'; 'too prescriptive'; 'not prescriptive enough'; 'too flaky'; 'too detailed'. How do you make sense of it? Well, having the objective eyes of Elinor reflect on this brought some clarity. So thank you Elinor – and congratulations to the Art House on their continued funding.
Why is it that artists (I have not always been an artist) have to say they are busy, or working on this or that. Why can’t they just say "it’s really REALLY hard out there and I’m struggling." I know why. You have to boost your own stock. No one wants an artist who isn’t busy etc etc. So I am blessed with all this time and cursed by the low moods of under employment. The irony is that I have a few exhibitions on and coming up – which is fab – but jam for tomorrow doesn’t put food on the table today.
I have just installed ‘Do you think we can talk about this?’ - a solo exhibition at the Centre For Life in Newcastle, which opens next weekend – the 16 April. It is a collection of pieces which reflect on my personal experience of diagnosis 'Bipolar Disorder.' and weaving in elements of the personal and cultural agenda surrounding mental health.
It runs for a couple of months. Can we talk about mental health? At once we are fascinated by those perceived as kooky, off beat, crazy and then we tire of them and vilify them and perpetuate the stereotypical images and viewpoints of those living with an enduring mental health condition. I hope we can talk about it. I hope we can get a right good open honest discussion going.