Friday, 18 December 2009

Giving my CV a Boost by Exhibiting alongside van Gogh at the New Art Gallery Walsall

How far will an artist go to get his or her work exhibited in the right place? What is the right place?

Will saying that I have exhibited alongside a priceless van Gogh drawing in a top UK gallery actually affect how my art is seen? Will it make curators take me more seriously?

Ania Bas was artist in Residence at The New Art Gallery Walsall during the summer of 2009.
There is an interview between her and Helen Jones Exhibitions Curator in the Dec 2009/Jan2010 issue of Artist Newsletter magazine. In it Ania says,

“I call what I do collaborative art. When asked what it means I say that I am working with people, not with canvas”.

The Artists’ CV Boost event took place on Saturday 5th December. It was part of The Weekend Supplement and was just one of the outcomes of Ania’s residency.

Various alternative gallery tours also took place during the weekend of 4-6 Dec. Tours such as; Speed Tours (the whole gallery in 15 minutes), Tours where the public found out more about the Gallery Attendants and tours where the focus was on the view out of the various Gallery Windows. These unusual tour ideas had all been suggested in the course of various conversations (over cups of tea and home baked cakes) that Ania had with hundreds of visitors and all types of staff at the gallery (attendants, curators, technicians and cleaners) during her summer residency.

This excerpt from the Weekend Supplement Brochure explains more about the Artists' CV Boost,

“During my time at the gallery I met a lot of artists. We talked about how difficult it is to show work in good company and how very few artists get to exhibit in great gallery spaces, such as the one we were sitting in.We started talking about solutions; ways that the process of showing work could be more democratic and truly open to everybody. The artists I talked to did not moan, instead, they wanted to do something about it! This is how the Artists CV Boost idea came to life. It is a chance for 24 artists to show their work next to a van Gogh drawing for exactly one minute and instantly improve their CVs. There is no guarantee of fame, recognition or an instant job/commission offer. There is however, hope that showing next to van Gogh will raise questions about explored themes, the quality of the finish and the impact works have on each other when positioned in such close proximity. A minute long exhibition versus the reproductive abilities of the digital picture.”

I jumped at the chance to be part of this project. I happen to live less than 10 miles away but more importantly I really love this gallery, admire the quality of exhibitions and events that take place there and would like to be more involved with it.

I am a great admirer of the work of Nina Saunders and first saw her installation Making Love to Flowers in 1998 when it was exhibited in the old art gallery in Walsall. It has since been shown in the window of the new Gallery.

When the gallery first opened almost 10 years ago I was excited by an early piece by Laura Ford. I felt so inspired by the audio interview with Laura talking about her memories of growing up in a fairground family and of playing in the empty zoo enclosures on her grandfather's farm (it was an old disused Zoo).

"Beast" by Laura Ford is exhibited in the Children's Centre of the New Art Gallery Walsall.

The Artists' CV Boost Event was fun for me. I met other artists, many of whom had travelled up from London for the event but much more importantly it helped me to feel another step closer to exhibiting in a gallery which I have grown to love and which regularly hosts shows by artists who really are movers and shakers in the contemporary art world.

The piece that I decided to exhibit alongside van Gogh’s "Sorrow" is a piece called "Flight". I made it back in 2002 and chose it simply as it is one of the few pieces of 2D art that I have made. Ania had stipulated that all artworks had to be able to hang on one nail.

For "Flight" I assembled Airfix model aeroplanes and then painted them with selected butterfly and moth markings. A very meticulous and time consuming piece of art. But I get such a lot of pleasure from opening the case (which I also made) and inhaling deeply. The smell of the varnish takes me straight back to the day that my dad made a farm set for my brother. The glue and varnish smell is etched in my memory. A Frillip Moolog moment?

On reflection I think that a more symbolic piece might have been this self portrait. An even older piece but one which would have had much more meaning when placed alongside "Sorrow".

My self-portrait was one of several made during a period of recovery after a serious accident and period of depression. This might be the piece that would have interested van Gogh too?

Thanks to Ania Bas and Helen Jones for thinking outside the box and for facilitating an event which has stimulated much more food for thought than I first expected.
This is the photograph that I used to make my self portrait. Images were printed (through muslin) onto watercolour paper. I used colour photocopies and lighter fluid to release the inks.

1 comment :

mand said...

However much difference it makes career-wise, i reckon a namedrop is always worth collecting. ;0)