Artists are inveterate collectors and hoarders, with a predisposition for meticulous research, documentation and display. That much was very clear at the latest of our seminars about Artists and Museums at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston, where directory members Lyndall Phelps and Yvette Hawkins both revealed themselves to be obsessed in different ways with the power of museum objects to tell stories and excite our curiosity.
What you might call ‘the museum effect’ in contemporary art is well known. Such artists as Hanne Darboven, Susan Hiller, Mark Dion and Wolfgang Tillmans (naming only a few) have often assumed the role of curator or archivist, investigating ideas, places and natural phenomena through a process of iterative, cumulative classification and display. You can see why so many contemporary artists are eager to work with museum collections.
It’s an inevitable aspect of running a website about art that, however much you try to get out and about, much of the contact you have with artists happens remotely by email or on social media. At the London Art Fair in January, however, we found ourselves in the welcome situation of coming face-to-face with Axisweb members and having some really interesting conversations about the kind of things that rarely crop up in our daily communications with artists in the website’s directory.
Over the last month we’ve been busy planning our stand at London Art Fair. We often get asked about how we select the artists we show. With over 2,500 artists in the directory and the possibility of only showing a handful, the short answer is that the selection process is always very difficult and involves much debate amongst the curatorial panel.
Jules and I have spent the last 24 hours on the Isle of Mull filming Adrian and Jane of ‘Strongarbh House‘ in the picture-perfect town of Tobermory, as part of a series of films on collecting for Own Art.
I am ashamed to admit that despite being a quarter Scottish this the furthest north I have ventured. The landscape is utterly captivating and is home to some of Britain’s most spectacular wildlife including fallow deer, mink, otter and if you are lucky enough to spot them – dolphins (in my case not yet!). The dramatic coastal line beckons you to explore so it’s no surprise that landscape is central to much of the artwork in the area.
- Hanae Utamura, Wiping the Sahara Desert, 2010
I have been tasked with trying to answer some of the questions that Lucy raised in her blog post ‘Can I buy that video?’. I’m going to admit now that I may fail, but I promise to give it a good go.Thanks Lucy.
- Suzanne Moxhay, Eyrie, 2011
I just can’t help myself. When given half a chance, I have nipped off to have a look around the other stands. I managed to do this on Wednesday evening when I popped to the main projects area and took a look at some of the other stands. BEARSPACE stand - P21 caught my eye - they are showing the work of three British artists Suzanne Moxhay, Reginald S Aloysius and Jane Ward in an exhibition entitled ‘Brave New World’.
It’s been good to meet so many artists at the London Art Fair, many of whom have profiles on Axis. Thank you for coming to say hello.
For the Axis team it’s great to put a face to the work. And for the artists I guess it shows that there are people behind the technology. We’re real human beings, honest!
- Bill Jackson, Fish HEad, 2011
This morning I’ve been having a bit of a wander round the Art Projects section of the London Art Fair. I was pleased to find Bill Jackson’s striking photographs at Troika Editions and to meet the curators of The Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast. Although Axis has a remit for the whole of the UK, we have only a handful of directory members in Northern Ireland. Definitely something to be remedied there…
When we curated the stand for our Arts Projects space at London Art Fair we wanted to show a cross-section of work from the Axisweb directory. The directory is bursting at the seams with talent and the Art Fair is a great way to show it in the flesh.
- Hanae Utamura, Wiping the Sahara Desert, 2010
Selling the work is, of course, important in this context and the work was selected with this in mind. However I think it would be fair to say that the success of Hanae Utamura’s ‘Wiping the Sahara Desert’ has taken both the artist, and us, by surprise.
To state the obvious, one of the good things about having an art fair stand is the enforced leisure. You really can’t do very much except talk to people. And for us, so far, that has been a real pleasure.
- Florin Ungureanu, Lost Memories, 2011
Yesterday we spent a lot of time in conversation with the artists who have work on the Axis stand. I was intrigued to hear about Florin Ungureanu’s education in Ceauşescu’s Romania, David Webb’s passion for colour, Canadian Trevor Kiernander’s experience of living in London, Will Woon’s interest in Gothic architecture and the propensity of caretakers at the Slade to dispatch anything vaguely resembling scrap material to the rubbish bins, as Sonke Faltien discovered to his cost while doing a BA there.
Thinking of visiting the London Art Fair? London Art Fair are currently running a 2 for 1 promotion if you book tickets online through the LAF website. Enter discount code ‘LAF37′, to get your 2 for 1 tickets.