Wednesday, 18 June 2014


There has been the inevitable backlash against the Chapman Brothers potential new show in Hastings. Essentially - the Jerwood Gallery is private, which is why it charges admission - it's a wealthy institution who could simply store all their archive here and never open the doors if it wanted to - but you can either become a member and get free entry - come on the days when it's free to the public, or take proof of local residency and get in cheap. They are part of a national artfund scheme - similar to Kickstarter, where you can bid for a product of varying value - to build up a fund to bring the Chapman's to Hastings - and the idea is that they will curate a show about Hastings, by buying up local art and artifacts, and re-working them - something similar to previous exhibitions where they have bought other artists work (including Hitler) and re-worked them - making them new and massively increasing their value. I think it's funny, and quite clever - and I like their work a lot. The Chapmans are from Hastings, they have their family here (Chapman senior runs a local removals company) and always reference the town - or at least - allow the town to reference them, constantly. Quite an important distinction.

A few people have been grumbling that they are rich artists and should be doing it for free - but that's garbage. Anything you bid for in the fund will be worth more than you pay for it ( I'm going for the set of personalised temporary tattoos ) and the target,  £25,000, is actually quite cheap to put on, and promote, install, insure and manage a major artist in a private gallery for a month - not to mention how much it might bring into the local economy and further promote the profile of a town that desperately needs a kick up the arse - profile wise.

This town is full of 'artists' of one form or another and we trade on it - but most of them are really shit - and the vast majority of the remainder are merely mediocre - just like everywhere else - if everyone was a brilliant, successful artist - then art would be worthless and commonplace. But it does not stop them being resentful and envious of success. It's that old adage "I could have done that myself"... but you didn't, did you.....

I wrote yesterday that I saw an exhibition in Bexhill and because I'd taught art on foundation and design up to degree level - in terms of creative development, there was really very little I'd not already seen in one form or another - and I resent seeing throwaway, half formed ideas stuck to a gallery wall and being asked to revere them. last night - one of my former students completed her 4th year of a degree in Advertising at Central St Martins and it was her Private view - I couldn't actually go myself - I was invited ( much appreciated ) but I'm sure it was a brilliant night and she has a successful career ahead of her - but then, she did work very, very hard. Last week was the private view for the final year of the degree I used to teach on, and this is the sight that greeted the invited guests.

The work was very dull, the students disinterested and surly (I went again during the day to make sure) and the lack of any industry and enthusiasm was depressing and infuriating. When I looked around the design department - I had to knock on the door to be let in (it was apparently a bit windy for them) and physically step over students who were lying on the floor, none of who acknowledged me - despite my having given most of them written references at some point and found two of them paid internships. The work was pretty rubbish too.

I can't speak for other places, but Hastings has this weird and very depressing chip on it's shoulder that is crippling it. Everyone wishes you well until you actually start doing well, and then they want you to fail. Human nature. What a crock.

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