Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Taking the Art Now Cornwall show as a precedent for the contemporary art scene in the region may present a pretty skewed view, as it was after all, a single curators selection. So the lame foal of Cornish art limps into the postmodern era "tentatively and reluctantly"... I don't contest the efforts to pursue a less metrocrentric or less region-centred practice, but surely the project "background" has been broader and better informed than this? What of:Transitions,PALP, SALT gallery, Invigorate, MORE projects, Wheal Art Weekend, eek, Waiting projects, Cut, Stack, Burn, Embark Ferry Art, Provisional Newlyn, Second Nature, POST mag,, Live Art Falmouth, numerous residencies, including BUILD etc etc


We need a critic who is willing to speak out about the kind of work shown in Cornwall at the present time.The canon will not rise or develop until we are making work true to ourselves and of our time. The ‘sentimentality’ of Cornish work has to be banished if we are to ever be taken seriously not just as local but global entities.

Monday, February 11, 2008


FT07 @ Assembly St Just

Artists’ Forum, St Just, Cornwall, 29th Feb - 3rd of March 2008


A group of 8 London based, emerging artists with the aid of funding from Artquest London are holding a four-day forum session at Assembly residency space, St Just Cornwall. Our forum group decided to use this funding to explore the different aspects of the London art scene in relation to other National Art Centres, with the aim of not being so London-centric in our approach.


This particular session is being hosted by Assembly, a residency space in St Just, set up by Abigail Reynolds and Andy Harper, who currently straddle the Cornish/London art worlds by dividing their practices between the two locations. The decision to mobilize their practices, the relevance of doing so, and their decision to create a residency space available for other artists to do the same, will inform the discussions we have throughout the 4 day residency. Ultimately, the aim for the artists in residence is that discussion should stimulate a creative process. The format is going to be two discussions, exploring broadly the theme of a London / Cornwall divide from two different angles.

1. Practice, in terms of mobilizing and relocating practice; the practicalities and logistics for any artist attempting to do so. Relevant as so many opportunities available to artists seem to be formatted as residencies, involving a temporary upheaval and relocation. In addition to this we will take a wider look at the contemporary relevance and implications of doing so.

2. Infrastructure, an exploration of the creative infrastructures in Cornwall and their roles in bridging this divide. How it affects the remit of the organisations and the work that they carry out. How successful they are as platforms and support networks for local artists and their role in ensuring that the criticality of work being made is kept in context.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Extract from article about new Art Now Cornwall space

"To an outsider, aspects of the selection suggested that a lot of art made locally lacks originality or 'edge': it is too restrained and polite, and avoids polemic or difficult subject matter. This is especially true of certain sectors of art activity in Cornwall, and there are good reasons for it. As most private gallery-owners will admit, much art from Cornwall is conditioned to be conservative because of the nature of the local art-market. This market is shaped hugely by the all-pervading influence of the 'artistic legacy' - itself packaged for easy consumption by the Tate. It is not surprising therefore that art buyers have expections that art from Cornwall should have a certain non-threatening and familiar retro quality. The issue for the public galleries, and shows like Art Now Cornwall, is the extent to which they should challenge this state of affairs. Many feel that the current show achieved this in part, but could have gone further.

In fact, in its defence, the private galleries have had a lot of influence in recent years because of a lack of credible alternatives. For example there has been little significant art-writing in Cornwall, and even institutions like the artist societies have, in the recent past, seemed to conspire against the emergence of new art, dominated as they have been by older artists seeking to maintain their influence. Even artist-led organisations have struggled to gain enough momentum to make much of a difference, partly because the audience for genuinely challenging work has been so small. There are signs, however, that this is changing.

Cornish art is at a cross-roads. No longer able to rely on past glories, it has made the move away from the relative certainties of modernism into the uncertain world of ‘post-modern’ art tentatively and reluctantly, and has yet to fully assert its own identity and direction. Making good and interesting art is difficult and needs support from the right kind of infra-structure. Because of this, there are probably only a handful of artists living and working down here who are currently good enough to 'compete' on a national or international stage. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, on the evidence of this show and others, there are a lot more who have the potential to do so.