I am really passionate about art, and about the impact it can have on society, culture and our daily lives, but it seems to me that even in our amazingly diverse world of social media and global communication we are still only aiming art work at a very middle class, and often, southern based market.
There has long been a discord between art work and the art market, with artists throughout history trying to comment on social issues and avoid the huge capitalist agenda that invariably follows success, but the Art Market has an amazing capacity to grasp anything worthy and repackage it as middle class, expensive and exclusive, whereas often the very message of the artist was the opposite. This doesn’t stop at the end product either, but in the very act of experiencing art work, in a gallery space. It often feels as though you are a member of some exclusive club (or not) when visiting a gallery; a club that has a particular dress code, etiquette and rules all of its own. I am talking mainly here of the larger London galleries.
I read the Review section of the Saturday Telegraph this week for example, and there is a very useful diary section of ‘must sees’ for the first three months of 2019 – things to see, from dance, theatre, film, music and visual arts. However, other than a token entry for Chichester, Oxford and Liverpool, every Exhibition suggestion was for London. Whilst I haven’t looked through all papers and all galleries up and down the land, this appears to be a little bit ‘London – ist’ to me and so I have added a few Northern suggestions to the Telegraph’s list, which can be found on my website, under Calendar of Events page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In researching alternatives to London, it would seem that the galleries at least are trying to reach a broader audience, with the exhibition at the Laing using works from the National Portrait Gallery and the ‘Capturing a Star’ exhibition at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery using work from the Royal Academy collection.
I hope this is a useful first guide to exploring the art world in England as a starting point. More next week around the UK