Risk and Respite

company-secretaryAnd now, another ‘word’ from the Company Secretary.
(Image: “The Company Secretary”, Lindsay Hunt)

Many people wonder and ask us what we do and indeed, why we do it.
What we mainly understand about the question is “Why are you doing this?”
After many months, we realise that the unpacking of this question falls into a few discreet camps.

At the outset, many well meaning folk, metaphorically have put their arms around us and asked:
“Why are you opening a fine art gallery, in the middle of winter (2011), in the middle of a recession, and in the middle of nowhere?”.

Valid questions indeed.

The simple, and possibly naive answer, is simply: “because we believe in what we are doing”. We sincerely wish to provide a venue where artists can demonstrate their gifts and where appreciative collectors will support them.

Happily, many supportive folk agree; and we thank them effusively.

And to our delight, we have experienced a dizzying array of talent. Where seven or eight months ago, we were scratching our heads to find artists, we now have to politely decline some approaches.

Much to our, and sometimes, our patrons’ surprise, we deliver shows that are far from primarily commercial, especially in this region. Denise N. Rall’s recent sumptuous costume/textile exhibition, Ross McMaster’s confronting paintings, and others, have challenged what a gallery in northern NSW is about and can be.
Lest you misunderstand us, we do have a extensive array of “accessible” works that continue to delight our customers locally, interstate, and overseas.

Finally, it was with some distress and surprise that some parties approached us recently, with more than a modicum of shauenfreuder, regarding the imminent (but happily, not realised) closure of an important gallery in the region.

The implicit argument went something like: “Won’t that be good? Now folks will go to you!”

No, and no again.

The art world relies on mindshare.
Especially here.
The more activity, more galleries, artists and government spruking regarding what we all do, the better.
If one of us dies; we all die a little death.
We emphatically want people to come to this region and savour the profound talent that exists here. We must all pull together!

The popular mythology and rhetoric goes:
We live in the most artistically rich region in Australia.

We most likely do.

So, let us actually shout this to all on the planet, share our collective (small) victories and appreciate and support endeavours that provide a platform for an arts community to not only survive, but flourish!

We’ll be in it!

Live long and prosper.

"I could do that"

company-secretary
(Image: “The Company Secretary”, Lindsay Hunt)

So, yet again, a new year is upon us!

As I recover from the “Christ Mass”/ Hanukkah / Sun God period of excessive excess and self-congratulation, my alcohol addled mind wanders to things of greater import.

Just the other day, a certain person of indeterminate gender and age, sashayed in with an attitude that betrayed their mindset and indignantly announced that: “I could paint that”, quickly followed by the confident assertion that “It’s not worth XXX dollars”, as he/she swiftly and dismissively turned to walk away rather resplendent in their confident assertion.

It was something that I had witnessed many times, over many years, in many galleries.

It is that poignant yet depressing moment where folk who simply do not understand art and indeed artists - who are happy to reveal their ignorance and indeed, arrogance. In equal measure, if I am permitted to say.

Please compare and contrast the dizzying elation of the knowing person entering the gallery recently who with both confidence and conviction walked into the space and within short measure, confidently selected seven pieces that were to be dispatched to their overseas premises. Or indeed, the lovely fellow who wandered in after perusing our website, spent 90 minutes agonising over the two pieces, (from a selection of four), and confidently walked away with two! (That which will invariably enrich his life for years to come … see my previous posts ...).

Tonight, a dear friend of mine Facetimed me (look it up – Google is your friend!), and relayed his exploits in Paris and its multitude of galleries and museums. I somehow doubt that most Europeans would have the temerity and breathtaking ignorance to proclaim that both:

“I could do that” and even the more disrespectful, “ It’s not worth X dollars”.

The fundamental issue is this...

Art, its progenitors and practitioners are to be accorded the respect and understanding that any specialist should receive.

How would one approach the empty canvas or page; the blob of clay; the pieces of glass; the glob of molten-something to produce an original outcome ... something with meaning ... a sub-text ... a visual gag ... a visual angst ... a visual beauty? How?

I cannot believe that the same folk would dare to assert that they could practice law / architecture / dance (insert discipline of your choice) with the same dismissive regard that they happily and flippantly disregard Artists. Art is something that is rare, precious, and transformative.

We may be wage slaves in jobs we despise, yet endure because we have to. We may be executives with position and power with a financial recompense to make most of us blush. We may be unemployed, on the boundaries of society ... but we all take succour, hope and inspiration from those who articulate the beauty and desperation that we may not be able to articulate.

These are the Artists who we admire ... and simply cannot be.

I raise my glass to them.

We raise our glasses to them!

To the detractors; the imitators and the disingenuous, we do wish them well - but we also wish them knowledge, insight, expression and dexterity to produce their own art - something to be proud of and something to share with others.

That would be a wondrous and beautiful thing.

Live long and prosper …


The Erudite Stephen Fry on the Engagement with Art

"In an increasingly infantilised world where so much seems to be split into good or bad, correct or incorrect, acceptable or unacceptable,

where complex ideas are chopped up for public consumption like food chopped up for a child,

where so much is hygienic, attainable, safe, sugared, assimilable, digestible, pasteurised, homogenised and sanitised,

in such a world our appetite has never been greater for the complex, the ambiguous, the challenging, the untamed, the sharp, the peculiar, the surprising, the dangerous, the dirty, the difficult, the untameable, the elusive, the unsafe and the unknowable.

In other words, for art.

And to confront it, all we need do is to forget ourselves and our embarrassments and find a way to engage face to face.

When we are in the galleries, we can all be Oscar (Wilde), we can all raise our eyes to a canvas and encounter it fearlessly, with humour and grace and zest and not a trace of embarrassment.

It is the adventure of a lifetime and there are few better places in the world in which to embark on such an adventure than here, where art and artists rule."

Stephen Fry, Speech given at the a dinner for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 8th June, 2010.