Home Is Where The Art Is

If you are an artist, a lover of art then I hope that I can inspire you to do what you love.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Sir Anthony Caro Celebration of Achievement at Tate Britain 26/02/14

Sheila Girling, Sharon James and Sir Anthony Caro @ L'Artishe Gallery 

I have been posting some old blogs as I know that my readership has grown and it is difficult to reinvent the wheel every day. I also know that some of my more informative blogs definitely still have some mileage in them. I hope that you have enjoyed reading them.

I was very honoured to have been invited to the Celebration of Achievement of Sir Anthony Caro which took place yesterday at Tate Britain.

There were the art great and the good and surprisingly a fair few chefs. The fact that such a large crowd could manage to be silent during the speeches just showed the amount of respect in the room.

It was a great tribute to him to see so many people gathered together in his memory. There were some moving speeches and it's so encouraging to hear that this giant of the International Art scene was most respected for his humility, modesty and a determination to do better.

I may not of had the pleasure of knowing him for very long but it is amazing how both he and Sheila never wavered in their support of me and the gallery. He would often ask if I thought there was anyone he could write to on my behalf to secure funding for the gallery as he knew the importance of independent galleries. In the end we settled for him submitting a drawing to my Drawing Open Exhibition. What a privilege.
It was said many times last night that he was a man of the people. That much is true, he was so genuinely interested in art and that meant he would happily talk about the work of others with little indication of his own great talent.

My best memory and it will now become a treasured memory is of Tony looking at my bird skull sketchbook and saying that he could quite happily own it. High praise indeed.

It was also good to hear that some of the art initiatives that he was involved in setting up are still doing incredibly well 30 years on. I think it is safe to say that everyone that knew the artist and the man will sorely miss him.

There is however no doubt that he will always be one of the most influential sculptors to come out of Britain and his legacy will live on in future generations.

Monday, 24 February 2014

For Everyone Who Does Not Use Social Networks - Wake Up and Smell The Coffee!

I  have written several blogs about the power of social networks. I deal with many artists/practitioners who say they don't like the new technological age. More importantly don't understand it or know how to use it.

I have offered my services to help get people started and have got a few people up and running. Now I am going to tell you a few facts.

I started my own page to promote my work two weeks ago. I have been posting to it daily, I have also uploaded some videos of my drawings. Over 700 people have viewed my videos in the last 5 days. That is more people than I could ever hope to reach at any gallery over a 5 day period. (With obvious exceptions) I should be so lucky.

The picture in this blog is of the gallery Facebook page. I saw this excellent photograph about buying handmade goods. So I posted on my wall and shared it with 3 groups that I belong to. You can see for yourself how many people ended up seeing that post and it was also shared over 70 times.
That is a whole load of people and it also resulted in more visits to my gallery page and some new page likes.

Embrace the new technology, but the down side is in order for it to really work for you, you MUST post on it every day. It is tedious but necessary. Content must be relevant. Factor it into your daily routine. You can now set posts to update at a certain time, so if you have more time on some days then do more and time them to post over the next few days.

You can also use Twitter to get your pictures into the world. Take small steps and go at your own pace. But it is an excellent way to promote your work, future exhibitions etc.
Why not get together with a few other technophobes and do it together over coffee. Virtually everywhere has free wifi these days.

If you really want to get started but could do with some guidance then come and see me. I can get you started and more importantly I can help you with follow up sessions. I charge £12.50 an hour and I can guarantee that at the end of it I will have helped you get your social networks up and running.

Whatever you do, don't think that it doesn't work. I don't think it will be long before there will be an artist led social network separate from Facebook. Maybe there already is and I am behind the times. Feel free to share it with me. I know that in America there are many more groups and apps that are solely focussed on Art and Artists.

The most important thing is when you find something you think that you think other artists will be interested in SHARE it. Buy taking the two seconds to do that you could engage a totally new audience.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Why Commission Puts Food On My Table.

Mark Harris
I have had another busy week, with lots of work coming at me from every direction. I am climbing the work mountain and the view is pretty good from up here.

This week has seen me have to justify why I charge commission. I don't think people realise that it is a necessary evil. When I exhibit else where I also have to pay the venue a commission. 
When people hire my gallery essentially they are renting the space and me for about £20 a day. That is a nonsense wage. I need commission from sales to give me an income. The gallery is also open 6 days a week and needs to be lit, have internet access and be heated. Unfortunately, up until now none of the major telecom or utility providers have seen fit to give me those services for free. I will however keep asking.

I don't ask for much but I would also like to stay open and continue to provide the service that I do. In my last blog I wrote about how important it is to support your local galleries. It really is important that you do. I am sure there are some unscrupulous galleries out there, in fact I know there are. Some charging up to and beyond £500 a day. What do get for your money? 

The space, maybe a great location, access sometimes to their mailing list, a presence on their website. You would be expected to curate and hang your own exhibition, host your own Private View and then man the exhibition, produce your own price lists and labels. That is not so great for the money but if you don't believe me then check it out for yourself. By the way I do all of the above in my most basic package.

I just really want to contextualise what actually takes place in terms of what you get for your cash.

Well that's more than enough about that, more importantly have you seen my latest exhibition? If not you should make sure that you do. It really is good, I know that I am biased but it is also true.
If you wanted a beautiful large scale abstract image at a price that is right for you then you can come and bid on one of Marks paintings.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

11 Reasons You Should Support Art Galleries

Mark Harris

1. They are generally free.
2. You will enrich your own cultural awareness.
3. It can be inspirational.
4. It's educational.
4.1 You can learn something about yourself, about an artist, about an art style, about your likes/dislikes.
5. It is good for the local economy ( Not directly because of sales necessarily, you go away and tell 5 people that there was an exhibition that you enjoyed then they may visit and then tell 5 more people of course one those people may well buy something.)
5.1 Looking at art is thirsty work, visitors will need to be fed and watered at local establishments.
6.Your support could even be the difference between a gallery staying open or closing down due to lack of interest. Artists, you can really help out here.
7. It can brighten up even the dullest of days.
8. Your positive feedback in a visitors book could spur an artist to create even better works.
9. You might unblock your own creative channels.
10. Discover new artists.
11. Take time out from your day to just look at something beautiful and sometimes ugly. But it is still 'you' time.

I was going to do a list of 10 but the thing is that I like to be different so it is 11 technically it could be 13 but i just like the number 11.

We are entering a use it lose it time. Many galleries are closing in the recession, obviously because sales are down and the advent of so much being done online. If you want to see small independently run galleries in your cities, towns and villages. You know what to do. Go and see what's on. You do not have to buy, but you could help to spread the word about what you have seen.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Gicleé Print Versus Original Image

Mark Harris
I wish more readers had got involved in the great 'pricing art debate' but only one bite. I think it is a really good topic for artists to debate as we are now living in very different times creatively. There are many galleries solely selling high end reproductions. For fairly high end prices considering the fact that they are not originals.

I have my own feeling about that as I have said before. It stems largely from the point of view that I am a printmaker and I am not overly keen on the same kind of labelling being used on gicleé prints.

I know that many artists are going down that route in order to make some cash. I am just not sure what it means for the future of galleries. Would you spend £600 on the original or £60 - £100 for a gicleé print?

On one hand one image can make you several hundred pounds sold as prints. At the cost of the uniqueness of one off that was the original piece. Has it become a means of survival?

I have my foot so firmly in both camps owning a gallery and being an artist. I want people to invest in originals for both the good of my gallery and the artists I show.

The other truth is that I have never sold a gicleé print at the gallery, that is not say that I haven't had them for sale because I have. How can the impact of a 6ft canvas be condensed into an A3 gicleé print? I am not convinced that it can be.

Scale surely is an integral part of the work? If not why not work on A3 from the start? Produce smaller more saleable works. I am once again playing the Devils Advocate. These are all things that I have to think about both as an artist and a gallery owner.

Have a think about it and then feel free to get in touch to continue the discussion.

The Mark Harris Exhibition opens today and it is a real eye catcher. I love the way his work fills the space. I have already got my favourites. I could quite happily live with most of them. I can't imagine smaller versions of them. You have to see them in the flesh to get a real feel for them.

The gallery is open 6 days a week and from 11.00 - 5.00 so if you are in Swanage please come along and show your support for both an emergent artist and the gallery.

For any of you that have been adversely affected by the crazy weather we have been having I hope that you are able to get yourselves sorted today in this small window of weather normality we are experiencing.

Friday, 14 February 2014

How Low Will You Go? An Open Debate.

I come back only to disappear again. I am back once again like a certain renegade master. If you know it then you will get it.

The usual has happened this week my 'Lists of things to do' have been of truly epic proportions. But the John Flower Bursary is now at an end. I think it was successful as we raised a lot of money. The final figures are not clear yet but I think it must be in the region of £2,000 maybe a bit more.

I would like to thank all of the artists that very kindly donated their work for the exhibition. I hope this is the first of many charity exhibitions that I can help organise.

The winners of the raffle were 1st Prize - Martin Claridge, 2nd Price - Lucy Webb Martin and the 3rd Prize was won by Mike Sharpe.
I hope they all enjoy their new works of art.

The hot topic for today is Mark Harris. He is my next exhibitor and his show is up and looking great. He is taking a novel approach to selling his work. He will be accepting bids and then the highest bidder will get the work. Only reasonable bids will be considered.
His motivation for doing this is the need to make room for new work as he is fast running out of space. He is also keen to get his work out into the world. I applaud his bravery and I hope that people will embrace the idea. Factor in the cost of buying new canvasses and paint and I think that more than justifies his approach.

I have spoken excessively in my blog about the price of art. Would you rather see it go to a good home? Would you rather take it home with you? How much is too little? Is art that doesn't sell anything more than dead money? How much of your own art do you need to be hanging round your house, under the bed, in the garage or in your studio? Does art have a sell by date? What I mean by that is, if you have work knocking around for a few years would it be better to sell it for less? The financial impact that producing the work made has long since past, so is it time to just move on? Also if your work is progressing as it should is your old work now out of context with your new work? Are you saving it all up for your retrospective at the Tate?

I know I am asking a lot of questions but I am hoping to start some healthy debate about the price of art.

I am playing the Devils advocate and I know it. As you rise up though the ranks the more your work will command. Well that is the theory but the recession seems to be having rather different ideas. I am witnessing that people are most comfortable spending below £500. That is not to say that I do not sell work for twice that. I am talking comfort zones.

Please feel free to comment and engage in the debate. I welcome the input of other practitioners.

Monday, 10 February 2014

A Busy Week Coming Up!

I only just come back and then I go and take two days off. I am such a slacker, or I am just so very busy that writing my blog is the one thing that seems to have to give.

I just want to tell you about the things that are going on at the gallery in the next few weeks. Also that I am running several workshops so I would happily like people to message me if they want to do something other than stare to the window at the awful weather that we have be having lately.

Firstly, the John Flower Exhibition has done incredibly well so far. It is well past the £1200 bracket and there are still a few more days. I am doing the draw for the raffle on Thursday at 4.00. So please do come and get a ticket.

Not the best picture but it gets the message across.

You know I don't like to sit around so it will come as no surprise to you that I am taking down one exhibition on Thursday and putting the next one up on Friday.

I am very excited about my next exhibition as Mark is a relative newcomer to the local art scene but be has been honing is craft for some time, roughly the last 20 years. Join us on Saturday from 6.00 until 8.00 for drinks and an opportunity to meet the artist.

Again I apologise for the fuzzy pics but I am ripping them from the gallery Facebook page as I am at home today.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Are You Back In The Zone?

Not the best picture but these are my new drawings of pigeons.

I am getting back in the zone, I am typing on an ink stained keyboard. Why is that important? Because the fact that there is wet ink about means that I am officially back on my creative path. The Christmas break totally disrupted my flow.
How about you? I am sure that I am not alone in my struggle to be creative after a lull. I have done small projects to keep my hand in but nothing major.

I have neglected my sketchbooks and even my doodle addiction has been going cold turkey. I have kick started myself into activity by setting myself some daily challenges. I know I shouldn't need them but the truth is that the more work that I do the more ideas I have more work. So even the most mundane starting points can produce great new ideas.

I have successes and failures but the main thing is that I am doing. The funny thing is that I can unblock peoples creative channels with little to no effort. I have to get better at practicing what I preach or should I say teach.

Well, since I started writing this I have sold another 2 pictures. That's £320 for the bursary. That is such good news. We have nearly raised £1000 that is not to be sniffed at.

I am excited about the possibility of having another bursary exhibition next year. I would like incorporate an art competition for young people. I think it would be a really nice addition.

I should get back on and work on the new drawings as the exhibitions that I am in are looming.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

I Am Officially Out of Hibernation

I have had over a month off from writing my blog and I am sure that you thought you were safe. The truth is that I am back and will be giving you daily updates and hopefully sharing interesting and sometimes important information.

I hope that you all have had a great start to the year? I know that mine has been so busy I have hardly had time to do anything other than work.

I said at the end of the last year that 2014 was about putting as much good as I can into the world by supporting as many charity initiatives and events as possible. I have got off to a flying start. My current participation is at 5 charities. Mainly cancer but I am open to others. If you think I could help a charity that you support then please let me know. No charity is too small. In fact I am keen to help the less well known ones become more known.

If you would like the chance to win one of these three pieces, then pop into the gallery buy a raffle ticket and cross your fingers. These are quality prizes well worth a dabble at £5.

The John Flower Bursary Exhibition is well under way and I am pleased to say that we have already raised a substantial amount. Anyone from the Purbeck area can apply to it and there is no age restriction. The only criteria is that you are going to develop your creative skills in any of the arts.

Just to also let you know that there are some absolute bargains to be had at this exhibition. The artists have been very generous and the exhibition looks great. We are already talking about how we can do it again next year. So that is also exciting.

My 'introducing' exhibitor this year is the very talented Mark Harris. He is local to Dorchester and has been painting for well over 20 years. He is passionate about what he does and has spent much time painting directly from the landscape whatever the weather. I am excited to be showing him and I hope that you will be able to come along and support this emerging new talent on the art scene.