I was pondering, a few weeks ago, about the amount of exposure I have achieved with my work over the past 18 months. Like many artists, my approach has been exhibiting, either in open shows or small group/solo exhibitions; Open studio and the occasional studio visitor; and the internet. The internet has certainly helped artists get their work out there, and many more people will have seen my work online than have ever seen the originals. Putting my work on the internet has given me positive feedback, and useful support at a time when I really needed it. I’ve gained access to a community of artists that I would have been unlikely to meet were they (and I) not online, shared work with friends and family who live too far away to see the originals and reached their friends and family too. Clearly an on-line presence has many benefits. However, it still can’t replace seeing the real thing, especially not for a producer of Slow Art. The trouble for me is that the images can only give an approximation of the original, and an untextured and ambiguously sized approximation at that. Because they compete with the millions of other image messages online, they also need to shout to be heard. The implications of this may well form a dedicated post at a later date, but for now it is interesting to note that my latest success results not from the internet, but from a good old fashioned studio visit, and certainly grants me more real world exposure than I have gained to date. I am very happy to announce that ten of my paintings are now hanging in the Wig and Pen, http://www.the-wigandpen.co.uk/ alongside work by my fellow KIAC artists, Simon Wigglesworth-Baker and Linda Miatt-Wassell. Simon’s Scissor Series sculptures and Kelham and Crucible wall pieces are upstairs, and in one of the function rooms Linda has installed some of her beautifully surreal visions. In the other function room, I have hung a range of work from the Industrial series, and two more recent pieces, one of which is shown below.
The Wig and Pen have not bought the pieces, nor are they loosely hung on one wall with price tags as can sometimes happen with public setting outlets for artists. The work is displayed carefully, and sits well in its surroundings. Effectively, we have agreed to provide art to decorate the pub, in order to achieve a wider audience for our work and to generate interest in exhibitions – oh, and some sales would be nice as well, but that’s the real world for you. This arrangement seems a sensible response to the problems faced by an over-saturated art market in an economic crisis. Having ten paintings in a good Sheffield gastro-pub certainly grants more exposure than they’ll get in my studio, and my next exhibition isn’t until September (actually, that’s quite soon. Ulp!). Hopefully they’ll grow on the clientele, like all slow art should.
The work that initially attracted Stacey (Manager of the Wig and Pen) was ‘Icons’ and ‘Out with the old’ from the Industrial series, which she saw on a visit to KIAC arranged by Simon. Both of these are among the group of paintings I’ve hung. They are classic examples of how the internet cannot compete with the original, not least because of their size, and are among the more popular of my works. Presenting the work in a public setting has been thought-provoking, and alongside the paintings I have hung a short piece introducing myself and the work, and designed a leaflet to give more information. I’m hoping to get feedback through emails and comments on this blogsite, though I can be grateful for the two unsolicited ‘wow’ reactions I got whilst installing the work (cheers guys). Hanging my more recent work with the Industrial series is an interesting test, and I cannot thank Stacey enough for the opportunity. In preparation for my solo show I have explored a number of variations on the industrial theme as I seek to show mainly new work in September. In developing the work I have been influenced by my ongoing love of the Russian avant-garde in the 1910’s and twenties, which has led to both Rayonist and Constructive interpretations, as well as figurative abstraction. It’s been interesting to see these sitting with the semi-abstract landscapes of Industrial, and I am fascinated to know how they will be received.
So, if you’ve a mind to enjoy some good food, good beer or just good art, get yourself to the Wig and Pen, and maybe come back to this blog, and tell me what you think. Sadly I cannot be a fly on the wall, and so the nervous pleasure of observing reactions to the work has to be foregone. Just like on the internet.