Further notes on new and innovative models for thinking about increasing the sustainability of creative practice (on not neglecting the business)…
(further to an earlier post and in response to the conversations and presentations made at Thinking through the City’s first forum: Incubating Creativity)
One major problem in my mind with the gallery model of engaging with contemporary art, is the convention – appropriate when the main audience for a given show is the group of potential collector/investors, but in-appropriate in the case of much contemporary practice – of supplying free food and drink to all-comers. Openings are fun, and a good chance to catch up with friends, or to network, or to celebrate together the culmination of a lot of thinking, care and physical effort, but often they are packed wall-to-wall and the worse of occasions to get a real feel for the art itself, which may require solitude, or at least some space for a worthwhile engagement. It often strikes me as bizarre that it is taken for granted an artist will put up the time, labour and material cost to make the work, and then in effect, is also expected to pay (to otherwise entertain) their viewers.
This convention is a habit rather than a necessity I am sure, and one that several Artist Run Intitiatives (Feltspace and Format in Adelaide for example) are dispensing with, supplying wine and/or beer at a cost rather than handing it out. No one seems to mind.
There are other models too that combine different notions of sustainability with relaxing over a drink or meal, alongside an art experience:
Crate59 in Cairns supports emerging artists by sub-leasing a portion of the gallery space that fronts their complex of studios to an iconic local business ‘Billy’s Coffee’ (which shifts from its home at Rusty’s Markets weekly on the days the markets are closed). Great coffee and a rich mix of curated and high rotation artist run shows creates a relaxed and inviting way to spread the ‘opening’ out, to sustain and give a platform to a diversity of local artists and to extend the invitation to people that might not venture into a gallery otherwise – as their website says “Art + other = good”!
I’ve been busy, and/or sick since the first forum hosted by Thinking through the City: Incubating Creativity…
but the rich mix of conversation sparked by presentations, continuing over wine and food as the evening progressed: the – often conflicting – ideas, attitudes, desires, and opinions about what conditions ‘creativity’ requires (what it even constitutes – in relation to both ‘art’ and business) and consequently the – again at times conflicting – plans hatched for the ‘incubation of creativity’ within a local matrix, has continued to play on my mind.
Up the top, in terms of my own response, is the absolute provocation I feel reading Gavin Artz’s post following the forum. He titled the post “on being provocative” but went on to suggest his key focal points were not provocative at all, merely common sense… ie: that business and ‘creative practioners’ really want the same thing, and that this same thing amounts to new value in the form of wealth creation. Aaaaaah (my heart sinks a little right here) once again, as seems typical of late (across all sectors and, increasingly – sadly, for me… progressively, in Gavin’s terms – in every little crevice of daily life) the bottom line for success is how much money will be made.
I have lived in Adelaide all my life, spent most of my holidays on the south and eastern coasts; love the dry hot summer and fresh winter chills (not so much, the droughts)… my first trip to Far North Queensland some five or six years ago was a moist, dripping green culture shock. The visit was a quick one: Sasha Grbich had invited me to run a two-day workshop with her for the Tanks Art Centre as part of ANAT’s Portable World’s education program. I remember the plane trip was frustrating – cloud cover the whole way – no view, no physical sense of the place I was approaching… remember the song playing as it tipped into descent (I think it’s from Sarah Blasko’s Planet New Year) ‘Waking with the birds, they’re falling from the sky’ causing some subtle anxiety that fell away as the clouds broke and the plane sank into colour: turquoise blue/green sea deep green blanketed mountain fringe; remember the heart-dropping/breath-held moments as the plane banked the bay: the beautiful liquid shock of it.
I remember coming across the website for a project called [murmur] toronto some five years ago while Sasha (Grbich) and I were researching participatory art projects as part of the development of a project up in Cairns that we completed early this year… (more…)
As both an art maker and an art lover, I am often moved more by the underlying motivations and processes: the difficulties and desires of the artist as embodied in the art work, than by the polished spectacle of singular finished pieces…
often these motivations and processes; the narratives that link art and life are somewhat lost-in-translation between studio and gallery. (more…)