Not quite, I start next week and with the new year comes our first official deadline. It's been a while since I was this side of the educational divide, 10 years, stone me a decade since I graduated from Falmouth. NEWS - My third article has been published, you can read it below: ‘Dear artist’
‘Dear artist’, begins the Directors letter. Andrew Nairne the director since 2001 has taken either a most risky or brave decision concerning his invitation or call for entries for the Oxford Season. An Open invitation so often means the very opposite when these events are being organised, artists are left to the selectors whims and fancies. An ‘esteemed’ panel of judges cast discerning eyes over the works and lives of amateur and successful artists alike. Well not here, not a selector in sight, no one to schmooze or corrupt, no one to blame and no one to argue with.
Each entrant is given 1m3 of space to do with as they will, in fact they don’t even have to be artists. They have to be over 18 and live or work in and around Oxford and if they run out of space then priority will be given to city residents. So there you have it, a truly open Open.
If it is to be a success we will have to wait and see. In many ways it is now up to you, you are viewer, turned ‘esteemed’ selector, but don’t expect a free lunch. With over 230m2 of space to cast your opinion upon, this will not be an easy task, however, help is at hand and the gallery are setting discussion points and activities around pieces of interest (they couldn’t stay away, those pesky selectors.) Alex West of Blur, the fashion designer agnes. B and the artist Janette Parris will be looking at their favourites and sharing their thoughts each Tuesday evening during the exhibition.
Open exhibitions have always generated interest and controversy, from the exhibition of Manet’s Dejeuner-sur-herbe at the Paris Salon of 1863 to Fountain, the urinal signed R.Mutt by Duchamp. Now, in this show, this novel approach will play with notions of artistic ego, the value of art, decoration and commerce vs. research and experimentation, art by the non-artist and the very subjective nature of the visual arts.
The most exciting aspect of this exhibition lies in the show as a whole, curatorial responsibility lies with the Oxon artists themselves. As they hand over their works an army of technicians will hang the show. Watercolour paintings will jostle with photography, pottery with experimental sculpture, and oil portraits alongside ‘Banksy-esque’ graffiti. Art influence, theory and history will also find itself in the mix, with works borrowing from different times and movements, individual trained and un-trained interpretations will come into play. In doing all this Suzanne Cotter the curator, Andrew Nairne and artists from both sides of the Isis will be creating a snapshot of artistic practice in and around Oxford in the first decade of the century, an interesting project in it’s own right, perhaps one that should be repeated in each decade to come?
The directors’ letter and the press releases for this show reflect the altruistic act of inviting unknown artists into the echelons of a vibrant, progressive and renowned art museum. However in putting on this event Modern Art Oxford could be potentially opening a philanthropic can of worms, a do-gooders guide to creating a city of art critics. As artists, we believe in our practice and the work we are creating, we like to think we are here in isolation, special – seeing someone else’s work reflected in your own or a mass of work and the realisation of the sheer number of artists out there can open a wound in any artists side, psyche and ego. Or, perhaps this will unite a city, create a critical mass and network practices across the region, and we may all appreciate the role of selector a little more in this subjective arena we work in.
Read the blog entries of two MA fine art students. Nathaniel Pitt and Chris Hodson are studying at Wolverhampton and Birmingham respectivly. This blog is a recording of their experiences in these two seats of learning