Be seen and not heard (or… artists should shut the f**k up).

I haven’t had gallery representation in the United States for over five years since my last two galleries there closed down. Fortunately, on this side of the Atlantic, I am still managing to exhibit and sell my work through a few European galleries that have managed to navigate the difficult financial seas we’re all currently sailing. But I am frequently contacted by existing American collectors, and others, who too wish to see my work in the flesh. “When are you going to have another show in LA or NY?..” is a frequent email demand and consequently I have continually attempted to get the attention of established galleries.
Any artist that has attempted to find a gallery to represent them will know how difficult it is. Not difficult to get accepted, just difficult to even get a response. There has always been advice available from arts groups and networks to help artists in this Sisyphean pursuit. Interminable instruction about never cold-calling with a folder full of work, to research the work already being exhibited, the addressing of the appropriate person, the correct manner to write an introductory letter, the exhibition cv, the artistic statement…
I have continued to contact galleries further afield from wherever I am currently being shown and the response is nearly always the same. In the thirty odd years that I have been contacting galleries (without prior introduction from another gallery or established artist) I think there have been a grand total of three who were happy to review my work. Two of which decided to work with me.
My latest adventures in this task have been thoroughly ignored again (so don’t despair if you’re fresh out of art college, you’re thumping out letters and emails and you suffer the same silent response). All ignored… all bar one. One US gallery, who shall remain nameless, professed to liking my work and has followed it for the last decade. Unfortunately (they always say it’s unfortunate) he could not ‘take me on’ because his business partner objected to my obvious insistence in commenting online on art and other subjects (I presume he is a reader of The Guardian) under my own name.
My forthright opinions expressed online could potentially offend some of his clients and where they could refuse to take artwork on certain controversial subjects they felt my ‘expression of political opinion in a non artistic mode’ was out of their control and a potential risk to business.

3189 march 29 20 x 25 cm march 2017

back to writing menu

4 thoughts on “Be seen and not heard (or… artists should shut the f**k up).

  1. Appreciate your honesty. Not having ever tried to show any art (I’m strictly an at-home-draw-when-the-urge-hits-me-person), it’s fascinating to read your description of the art world and see just how far the attempts to ‘shut people voices down’ can go. Good for you, speaking out. Don’t ever stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your artwork continues to inspire the minds of my Advanced Placement art students in a small town in East Tennessee, USA. I appreciate your voice. I will continue to expose young minds to your work whether or not the rest of the county accepts or embraces your artwork and your vision. I believe they do not know what they are ignoring! Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve just read this…. Goldie challenged one gallery in Mayfair about this, in a TV program he made.
    I thought I wasn’t good enough!
    When you consider the job of galleries is to sell art, you begin to wonder what they really are selling.
    I love your work, it inspires me, and your piece in Ashton park is breathtaking.
    Perhaps we should form a gallery des refuses … With a novices section for new art.
    Good luck


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