Friday, June 08, 2007

Outsider Inside

I've been determined to re-organise the way in which I managed the representation and distribution of my art. I've long had a distrust of galleries, even the best of them (and there are damn few of those in Australia) and I've been increasingly dismayed by the rash of art prizes and competitions that have reduced creativity and intellectual complexity to little better than sport. I cling to a naive idealism about art that I've had since my youth, despite what I read about the callous manoeuvrings of well-established artists to have their work included in events such as the Venice Biennale or major institutional collections.
The first thing I did when I got home from S.E. Asia was sever my relationship with the Melbourne gallery, Metro 5, with which I was to have an exhibition of large paintings next year. My experiences with the gallery at Art Melbourne, this year, were less than good and although I like its director, Andrea Candiani, it was unlikely that any future collaboration would be a success.
I'm not going to join another gallery. I've had a few offers but I have enough financial independence now to develop ways to show and sell my work that (to use the jargon of the so-called new economy) 'disintermediates' it and creates a direct connection with collectors
– and not just here in Australia.. My online presence has already done that, to some extent, but there are still many other possibilities to explore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Hazel, I really enjoy reading your posts. Particularly this post.
I have opened part of my studio to the public (like a shop front in a way) where I sell my artwork. This has been going on for 2 years. It does sell, which is great, and I get to meet my customers which is brilliant and do many commissions which I sometimes hate haha. I do have some work in another gallery - they are great operators and some of my lecturers exhibit there, which gave it some cred for me as I had no idea where to start, I also like these lecturers, and their works. Thankfully I found this gallery first off instead of doing the rounds and getting spoken to like dirt because I’m a new artist and didn’t have a long list of exhibitions and prizes (heard many stories). The owner’s husband is an artist; I believe this makes a big difference when it comes to how artists are treated (especially newies like me). Anyway, a well-known commercial gallery was interested in seeing my work in the flesh the other day after coming across online images. I was excited and took some work there. I came back from that interview feeling very odd and deflated, I naively thought because my first experience was so positive with the first gallery, that maybe there were quite a few goodies out there. The manager really didn’t show much interest in my work, she seemed to follow some sort of artist interview script and didn’t really listen to what I had to say. She also told me if I signed on with them I wouldn’t be able to sell work anywhere else, not only in VIC but NSW and QLD. I could no longer sell from my studio either. Just the thought of not being able to have any control was very strange. I am a big self-promoter – I have a website, I have my own mailing list my own business cards and flyers. I do monthly newsletters also. I make my own contacts, price my work and have essentially created my own list of followers who have bumped my prices up. Every cent of what sells comes back to me also (apart from the GST bit). Loosing all of this would be like loosing a limb. My situation is an odd one though as I have never, apart from very recently, exhibited elsewhere so I know there is a cap on how much I can sell me work for and how much I can promote myself without any assistance from those gallery owners who want to have a ‘relationship’ with you. I thought the fact that I do so much myself was an asset but no, this was looked down upon and almost smirked at. Anyway – I am inspired by your independence and wish you all the best in your future endeavours.