Beyond the gallery - what next?

Published: 09 September 2015

When we initiated the research we had a sense of the growing level of frustration, however we never imagined the response we would get following publication.  The response has been huge, the most views, social interactions and conversations we have ever experienced at Axisweb.  

It is clear we are dealing with realms of complexity that as a field we are not grappling with.  The people that feel isolated are the artists, they are increasingly a lone voice, the sole agent occupying these different spaces.  

“For me, coming back from Ireland to the UK and now working at an organisation that doesn’t have access to the same kind of support mechanisms set up, has been challenging and interesting to navigate.  This conversation needs to happen!  The artists we are working with don’t necessarily need or want validation within the existing structures, but an alternative way to support them to continue making work.” (Patrick Fox, Director of St Helens Glass and Axisweb Trustee)

What started as an exploration around the notion of validation and how artists primarily operating outside the gallery system gained visibility has led to a much bigger and fundamental debate.  With public funding under increased pressure the fear is a narrowing of focus.

In these challenging times, any art based institution should be questioning how they are fit for purpose in the 21st century.  

At Axisweb the foundation of our future strategic direction will be Artists’, as we believe in their unique abilities to inspire, challenge, promote new thinking, innovate and disrupt.   The challenge is developing alternative ways to support and nurture artists to continue making work, which can only be successful through collaboration to build a sustainable long term progressive relationship with different parts of society.

It is clear from the response there is a real urgency for an open and honest debate for us all to help shape an alternative way.  As Patrick says “This conversation needs to happen!”

Mark Smith, September 2015

Author: Axisweb

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