Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Showing work, sales and essays

I had the privilege of showing some work at the Winchester Discovery Centre over the last week. It was only a small display cabinet so I chose to show two woodcut prints and the woodcut blocks from which they were printed. 
Peter Driver: Woodcuts,
display at Winchester Discovery Centre 5-13 March 2013
I am sharing this cabinet, a week each with a group of fellow printmaking students in exchange for running some children's workshops during the Easter holidays. It looks like being a great experience.

The opportunity to show work in public highlights that familiar dilemma for contemporary artists - do I put prices on my work and try to sell it? Perhaps this is less of an issue for printmakers, as surely the intention behind making an edition of 22 prints (or 5, or 250) is that almost all of them will end up in the possession of others, either as gifts, 'swapsies' or sales. There is an underlying assumption in some quarters however that commercial selling is 'problematic' and contrary to the purpose of art, which might be about participating in contemporary culture; exhibiting interesting and perhaps challenging work for people to experience. It is a dilemma I struggle with. The hunger for recognition of my work as artistically relevant seems to be in some way counter to the hunger to pay the bills. (Recognition from? fellow artists, tutors, collectors...) Many practicing artists, in fact almost all of them, have to earn their living from other means to enable them to carry on making the art they want to make, rather than making the kind of art that people want to buy. So they teach art, pull pints, clean toilets, run workshops - anything as long as it allows them to subsist and have time for their art projects. They are artists not interior decorators. This is why artists are poor (but possibly fulfilled).

Yesterday was spent helping set-up for a Conference on the 'New Art of Making Books' at Winchester School of Art. This will involve a series of talks about developing ideas in the world of the 'artist's book', an exhibition of work by students and teaching staff from art schools across the country and delegates from art schools and the publishing industry. 
Setting up the exhibition for the New Art of Making Books conference

WSA printmakers will have a sale table at the conference to try and sell some multiples. I am selling some woodcuts and linocuts, including this new version of my 'Skylark' woodcut. 

'Skylark' woodcut, edition of 12
I plan to sell these cheaply at £5 each - to cover the cost of the somerset paper and my time spent carving the wood-block and printing them. My other prints will go for £10 and £20 each. These are not prices that would generate a living wage but at the moment I am more interested in spreading the work to a wider audience. I want people to have them and enjoy them. In the last few months I have swapped several prints and drawings in exchange for other artists work and given some away as gifts, while negotiating the problematic territory of value, price and intention. 

Blogging has taken a back seat for a couple of weeks while I had an essay deadline to meet. The 'Reflective Journal' module of my course involves maintaining a journal of research and development of ideas and influences during the semester. This is then summarised into a 3000 word essay, with academic references. In the end it was really very helpful, I was able to lift a lot of the ideas and text directly from this blog! I listed three key influences as Keith Tyson, Susan Hiller and Alice Oswald. I have no idea how well the essay will go down academically but I enjoyed writing it (even if it did mean sitting up until 2am to meet the deadline).

No comments:

Post a Comment