Exhibiting at the Mall Galleries as part of their FBA Futures programme was an honour and an opportunity to view the art world from a new perspective.
Most notably, the exhibition was different from anything I had done previously. I have exhibited many times, including in London, but always with artists I knew well, and often helping to manage and curate the work. For FBS Futures, I delivered my work at an appointed place, around the back of the Galleries, several weeks before the show, and arrived at the private view not knowing the other artists, and having my paintings displayed alongside work unfamiliar to me. Interesting to see one’s peers work from around the country.
The relationship between an artist and the work is a curious one – my two paintings were a product of a lot of time, hard work, creative and emotional input; somewhat like children. Having to had over responsibility for them to someone else was necessary, but required a ‘grown up’ attitude; and my relationship to these paintings, and my others has changed – I still put as much into my work, but there is a subtle change of relationship – my work will have to make its way in the world, alone. I suppose that I am now more conscious that other people will see the work, without my mediation, and perhaps this requires a higher degree of professionalism – ensuring that the work is both well presented and as complete a statement as possible of my, or should I say our, intent. .
Much of the benefit of the event came from associated talks and from other exhibitions taking place in London at the time. Talks on the relationship between the artist and the gallery owner, and on the future of art schools gave opportunities to understand current thinking and discuss art with other artists, curators and creative professionals.
The London Art Fair was on at the time, and it was very informative (I don’t know why I hadn’t attended before). The projects section (established to allow more cutting edge work to be shown) allowed me to meet a representative from Turps Banana – an organisation set-up and run by painters. I feel the need to gain exposure to new thinking about art practice beyond my home turf (but staying loyal to it), and their correspondence course should be valuable here (see www.turpsbanana.com).
Arriving at the projects section early in the day meant that I shared the tour guide with only one other person (later in the day I saw him leading a line of over 20 people!). I was able to get a greater depth of understanding of contemporary arts practice, and especially some of the current themes addressed by artists – the pulling together of disparate motifs from our colonial past, historic trends in art and the use of mystery and imagination. Coming from a process based education, I was interested to see that the emphasis was on ideas and concepts, rather than technical proficiency. As on gallery owner said to me – its the ideas that are important, anyone can paint well enough. This view was somewhat offset by a discussion with an artist represented at the show – we spend 20 minutes talking about approaches to our painting practice, very informative.
As usual, trips to London provide an opportunity to see a lot of good art – Cezanne’s portraits at the NPG and Bridget Riley at David Zwirner (both 10/10), Peter Doig, Basqiat etc. etc.
The most pleasing aspect of the 2 weeks, alongside exhibiting at The Mall Galleries, was the coming together of the art family that I am proud to be a part of. Fellow artists I have known for years, and have travelled to Madrid and Berlin with, had exhibited with and have shared the journey of becoming established artists. We have a strong community, as witnessed by those that travelled up from Plymouth, and we support each other through our ups and downs – a vital part of sustaining me as an artist.