I recently visited the John Piper exhibition at The Towner Eastbourne and very enjoyable it was too.
On the ground floor of The Towner was a vast warehouse-like space containing the "Compulsive, Obsessive, Repetitive" six large installations - interesting, funny, weird. The thing is I'm sure The Towner has a lot of art in storage and if you asked the director why it wasn't on view, he/she would probably say they hadn't got room to show it. See what I'm getting at? Those installations had hijacked the space. They won't be there forever of course though I can't help thinking the space only lends itself to huge exhibits.
I always think it would be so nice if art galleries photographed their entire collections, so that those in storage could be viewed on screens by the visiting public - or even downloaded at home, though that could be discouraging of visiting.
Another thing: with the slow slow deterioration of the quality of Christmas, birthday and other cards on offer these days, I normally buy most of my Christmas cards at Tate Britain and Tate Modern. And I often wonder why so small a range of cards depicting paintings/sculptures/installations, on view or otherwise, is available for sale; or, for that matter, why they are sold as singles rather than in fives or tens. I'm sure galleries, which after all still admit a non-entrance fee public, could capitalise more on such offers.
I just can't imagine how many times friends and relatives have been recipients from me of Matisse's snail and Picasso's peace dove, much as I do love both works!
I guess that's why this project was started
Originally Posted by Serial_Apologist
Thanks very much, mercia! I'll have a butchers at those later.
The Towner Art Gallery! That brings back many very happy memories: exhibitions of works by Lowry (which I saw on my birthday, and was totally absorbed by a seascape: cold, grey and more powerful than my ability to move away from it) and the Nash brothers. Wonderful stuff!
I'm not sure why you use the word "hijack", mercia: couldn't it equally be said that the exhibition of the works in storage would "hijack" space that could be used to show the "interesting, funny [and] weird" stuff?
But I know what you mean: there's just too much good work and too little wall-space. Paul McGann presented a BBC4 documentary on the "lost" Art of the Manchester and Liverpool galleries that addressed this very problem, with the same lack of suggestions as to how to resolve the problem. The "your paintings" website is a start: many thanks for the pointer.
well simply that in the space taken by those six large installations one could have exhibited 100+ works from the storeroom. I'm not really saying anything profound except perhaps that a lot of art these days is very big!
Originally Posted by ferneyhoughgeliebte
This Towner was opened in 2009 I think. So your Towner was probably elsewhere in Eastbourne.
Yes: on the High Street near Gildridge Park and across the road from a very good Indian Restaurant.
The problem of exhibition space is one that all galleries have to address: it might be at least partly dealt with if galleries were willing to lend out pieces to other venues (there used to be a particularly active Arts Centre underneath the Library that had wall space begging for visual art work, and there are always Hospitals, Libraries, pubs ... ) But then there arises the problems of security/insurance etc. etc. etc. I'm sure whatever ideas I can think of have already been considered by the professional who have to deal with this problem every day.
A reminder that the Constable in Salisbury exhibition finishes on the 25th of September. It has been curated by Timothy Wilcox (NOT the news-reader ) in Salisbury Museum (in the Cathedral Close) and collects major paintings and sketches that John Constable made in and around Salisbury. There are obvious bare places on walls in the National Gallery, Tate Gallery, Salisbury Museum itself, the Louvre, the Mellon and a number of private collections in Britain and the United States. The catalogue is superb.
> See what I'm getting at? <
yes i do mercia!
> six large installations - interesting, funny, weird. <
it does make you wonder how installations will be stored in future - presumably on film? i doubt many will exist in the way that other art works have tended to survive lengthy periods, sometimes centuries.
here's one 'multi media storage solution', in terms of longevity and (genuine) wider public access to art:
> The thing is I'm sure The Towner has a lot of art in storage and if you asked the director why it wasn't on view, he/she would probably say they hadn't got room to show it. <
and (possibly) that 'wallace and gromit' are taking over the whole gallery, for the entire spring/summer season, since new visitors will be 'assured' .....by showing mainstream tv...... in galleries.
since people don't often know what is stored, arguably they can hardly choose work they'd particularly like to see ...it's a bit of a catch 22 scenario. (i'd also bet that this aspect differs as per funding applications to charities, where 'satisfying the public' will be bigged up no end).
> can't help thinking the space only lends itself to huge exhibits. <
yes, this is increasingly the trend; and if we are really immitating the 80s, then presumably exbos will presumably only get bigger, not smaller? however, unlike the 80s, contemporary women (and men) will presumably exhibit ever larger pieces, doubtless thinking they're therefore making 'the biggest art statement'. despite the fact that many spectators and practitioners know that 'size' is a highly contentious idea, and the size of canvas and brush can mean very little, as debated (ad infinitum) in the 90s.
another relevant 'progression' is with the fact that many galleries are now separately maintained, (often as trusts) without local authority funding; increasingly, minus any compulsion to represent a sense of fixed locality.
most towns, cities, and rural/villages have their share of notable local artists, who may have gained either regional, or global recognition. there is nothing that might emphasise this history more, imo, than a concise catalogue of work held in storage, listing the past, and regularly revised, to relate to the present and/or new and previously unaccounted for 'findings' in storage. (this, arguably. is how you might 'widen access' regarding visitors: i might not want to see 'wallis & gromit' but may like to see something that's never/hardly been out of storage rooms).
also remember, galleries like to swop stuff, so it's easy for things to remain unlisted, especially the more fragmented the infra structure and employees etc.
a catalogue should ideally be 'complete' and in colour. 'complete' in the sense that a catalogue is 'fair' eg alphabetical; containing good quality photographs of all work; with as little general, or opinionated commentary as possible. this is because most know that attitudes to art are prone to whim, fashion and politics. so, 'the less text the better'. perhaps: just the artist's name, dob, date/size/materials of work and a good quality photograph (or two).
personally, i'd love to see an exhibition of regional artists (from anywhere), from any less well trodden point/location, in the 20th century. as per date of birth, birthplace, - and essentially as 'contemporaries' of each other, rather than for other reasons relating to perceptions of curation and content. arguably, in this sense, mainstream art education is often a bit disjointed ....?
in addition, curatorship has been down sized, reclassified, as to what the role now implies. i believe that due to changing relations between galleries, local authority, and spectators, that every art gallery (and museum) should be legally obliged to clearly list, and photograph, exactly what is held in storage, and record its ongoing physical condition.
it may sound extreme, but i believe this a legal obligation. precisely, as traditionally art works are so often 'loaned', or donated to galleries, specifically with maximum spectators, rather than profit, as a prime motivation. you cannot get any more 'big society' than this surely, but it may take formal govt legislation to really achieve accountability, transparency about storage!!
many artists and their families have presumably assumed that galleries would remain within a fixed context, as organisations. currently, this is nolonger the case, and relatives of deceased artists who have 'loaned' work, may well find that, in cash strapped times, art may just 'disappear'. or, get lost, or swopped and forgotten.... or, (at worse) sold on privately. yet, without actually ever being technically/legally 'owned' initially.
so, as well as everyone having to suffer 'wallace and gromit' and an outsized media/marketing campaign, that no single artists could hope to compete with financially, evidently, huge collections are hidden away in the bowels of now semi permanent organisations/buildings.
as with the shortage of space for people/homes, their is a similar parallel pecking order regarding art objects imo. anyone who knows an ex museum, or gallery curator may well be aware of the distress they currently feel. not only because many are newly redundant, expertise nolonger apparently being valued, but because as ex employees, they are more aware of the ease with which stored collections might just disappear ...at worse, into one person's bank account. that is, especially where catalogues do not list ALL stored works. ( if a work has been badly stored, has apparently 'disintegrated', it may be quite something to see the same style return to fashion, and a work mysteriously re-appear, and at a london sale. yet, no one will be the wiser if there's no (scrupulous/forensic) listing, and as the standard uk norm, regardless of a galleries' organisational structure and status.