Eleven years ago when I started Artists-Connect the objective was to get artists on-line economically. With the plethora of free and easy to set up, template based services available today, which enable artists to set up a portfolio on the web with little know how, that purpose of the Artists-Connect website is largely unnecessary. Since 2010 the focus of the group changed. I felt my artwork was lost on the web because of the shear quantity of of art on the huge number of websites out there. We needed to drawing attention to the site by means other than search engines. My conclusion was that we needed to exhibit, we are artists after all. I wouldn’t purchase shoes or a suit without trying on the items or feeling the material and I wouldn’t expect anyone to purchase art without seeing the real thing in the flesh first to appreciate the quality of media and the dimensions.
Exhibiting was one tactic in a complete review of the group and the artist-connect.co.uk website. The major aspect of the changes to the site was its conversion to a curated collection of artists and their work whereas before it was an ad hoc, eclectic selection of art. Of course it had to reflect my enthusiasm or obsession. As I paint and take photographs or use any other image creating media of aspects of the the natural world, I set out to find artists whose work represents their point-of-view of the environments around us. Their artworks could be classic landscape paintings or abstract expressions of engendered emotion, the natural world or the urban environment.
Learning about exhibiting
I organised our first group show in the Autumn of 2010 in the appropriate venue of Bristol’s Create Centre. It was a great space and displayed our work very well. Our disparate work complimented each other which I felt made for an engaging exhibition, what a pity more people didn’t see it. In 2011 we exhibited for 3 months at St. George’s Hall in the centre of Bristol, another venue I had dreamed of exhibiting in. Changing artists each month made sure everyone got the opportunity to show a good selection of their work and gave us collectively the opportunity to have 3 preview evenings.
These first experiences of exhibiting have been very informative and added to my earlier experiences of showing my art at art fairs and markets. I’ve found out how important the preview or private is, how positively people respond to the artwork if they are able to meet the artist and how enthusiastically people respond to art. Most significantly yet, I’ve grown to believe that the act of exhibiting is fundamental to art. Its only on exhibiting that art communicates and after the act of creation itself this is what art does. Its more important to reach an audience than to sell art, in fact, though the focus for many artists is to make sales, private ownership actually removes the artwork from circulation. Here, then, is the conundrum. We have to sell our art to live to create our art, but do we have to sell the artwork itself or can we provide access to the artwork as a service. I think we can do the latter so I’ve put my mind to investigating the possibilities which leads on to the ‘Art Post’ project which will be the subject of a future article.
If there were too many artists on the Artists-Connect website it would create a small scale version of the of the web with artists being lost in the morass. However, diversity is also good and I would like to hear from artists, preferably conveniently located near Bristol, who feel their work compliments that of the artists already represented. I have to emphasise that, being a curated site, I select artists whose work I think will make a good group exhibition but don’t let that be an obstacle to emailing me.