When the present government came into power, it swiftly consigned the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to its bonfire of the quangos, deciding that Treasury funding for museums should instead be channelled through Arts Council England.
In many ways it seemed a sad day for museums. But one positive outcome of this re-organisation is the possibility it offers of bringing the arts funding system, and by extension artists, into a closer relationship with museums. And what could be a more natural alignment?
The obituary of Roy Shaw, former Director General of the Arts Council, has prompted me to reflect on the differences between our current system of arts funding and the situation 30 years ago.
Born in Sheffield to a poor family, Shaw rose to become the Professor of Adult Education at the University of Keele. It was from this position that he was recruited to run the Arts Council in 1975.
Two things are surprising about this: first of all that he was an educationalist, with a background in Workers’ Education, and secondly (my main point here) that he did not belong to the London arts establishment. Would such an appointment happen now, I wonder?
One of the advantages of being based in Leeds is the presence of the Henry Moore Institute in the city, with its programme of serious and sometimes seriously difficult exhibitions about the nature of sculpture.
I don’t use the word ‘difficult’ in a spirit of criticism. Indeed, I think it’s important that public galleries to stretch our understanding of what artists do. Good art has a quality that can’t be reduced to a ‘words of one syllable’ text panel.
A couple of days ago I had the privilege of glimpsing HMI’s Sarah Lucas exhibition during installation. It’s always a surprise to see an artist you thought you knew in a different light.
I am one of a seemingly small minority of art lovers who neither made it to Hockney at the Royal Academy (much as I like his work) nor had the foresight to book advance tickets for Leonardo at the National Gallery.
Lack of forward-planning is only part of the explanation. Like Cara Sutherland, who wrote a recent Rant on the subject, I am naturally suspicious of large, crowd-pleasing exhibitions and instinctively averse to the idea of viewing art in the company of lots of other people.
- 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…