Michael Reid Gallery, Berlin with Laura Thompson.
Reflections on catching the Art Zoom Bus to Berlin for a Virtual Gallery tour.
I had fun today. Thanks to the generosity of Laura, curator at Michel Reid Gallery, Berlin, I facilitated a virtual visit to the gallery with guests from the UK, Australia, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands and the US.
Laura took us on a virtual tour (mobile device in hand, seeing the work hanging in the gallery space, walking around, talking to camera, taking questions and even giving us the treat of a trip to the stockroom! The latter is always something of a privilege and I have always enjoyed seeing the current exhibition in the context of other works and artist who the gallery chooses to represent. It often adds depth and perspective to seeing the work on the walls. Thank you, Laura, for your time!
Thank you to the guests who joined us. Verity (Athens) and Megan (Boston) I would normally enjoy catching up with about this time of year at a global conference. Sadly the 2020 event in Lisbon was cancelled for obvious reasons. The conference often includes gallery and museum visits as a social balance to the busy days. The conference guests include people from all around the globe, most are in lockdown in some way. Some are very constrained from social life and, like many of my friends and colleagues are sharing the grief, anger, sadness and frustrations of the pandemic’s impact with each other online. The Corona virus is certainly the elephant in the room at the moment. Quite a few who were going to join us on the Zoom Bus today were sending their last-minute apologies because of the impact of unexpected child care, pick-ups, internet losses etc. associated with the lifting of lockdown. I hope they can join us next time.
I have been feeling sad for friends and colleagues who have had their exhibitions shut down by the pandemic. The impact on the arts in all of its forms has been devastating and complex. Artists have been constrained from working in their studios, had work stranded internationally, had exhibitions hung with no audience or opening or had events cancelled. I really miss just getting out and seeing the works and exhibitions. I know from my work in the arts that rent, expenses, studio rent, materials, framing, presentation, commissions, advertising and freight costs all have to be met and sometimes artists will even be operating at a loss, often subsidising their practice with other jobs. If they are lucky enough to make an income it is usually sporadic and often directed at paying the costs for the next body of works.
Art making is usually a solitary practice. Have you seen that meme?
But the solitude is only part of the job. Most artists like to present their work and discuss their work, and if they don’t we have curators, like Laura, who can help with that!
It was wonderful to see the exhibition in Berlin with Laura, Every Painting has Tjukurpa (story): Contemporary paintings by women of the desert. I have been thinking of the remote First Nations communities in Australia and hoping they remain safe. They are geographically very isolated communities but while that has advantages in this time it also has always been a problem for provision of health services and supplies such as fresh food. It was good to hear they were safe and doing well.
Below is the link to the exhibition and also you can use the link to read more about the works and navigate to Michael Reid Sydney and Murrurundi (rural NSW) to see more, including the additional works that failed to make it to Berlin because of the pandemic.
As I mentioned, a rummage through the stockroom is a bit of a gallery treat. I would like to take our Zoom Bus to visit artist’s studios, which may be the ultimate treat for art lovers, and also we will see more exhibitions if we continue to have (and grow) this audience. I’ll try and vary the times so that different timezones can access the visits. Sometimes access is dictated by who has ‘feet on the ground’ and their ability to access a studio space or gallery.
This Friday 13th May at 10am San Franciso, 7pm Amsterdam/Berlin we will visit Belinda Fox’s solo exhibition at Maybaum, Gallery in San Francisco guided by the director, Christina Maybaum.
Sorry, Australia, it is an awkward time for you…. But if you can’t sleep?
Contact me by message/email or social media if you would like to join and invite your friends!
Belinda Fox is an Australia artist currently living and working in The Hague, exhibiting in Australia, Singapore, Germany and San Francisco. Belinda’s glass work was recently acquired by the prominent Gemeente Museum in The Hague. I saw it in situ last year, gorgeous.
During these strange days I have also been musing on what the arts may look like in the future. There has been a shift for many years for galleries towards international audiences (online) and international, regional and national art fairs as the primary place for offline promotion and sales to occur. Foot traffic through the door into exhibitions was once a source of sales but increasingly that happens less, even opening events have been changed to closing parties or private appointment viewings. Not a bad thing in some ways. Online sales help galleries keep costs down as they don’t have to have premium street frontage if they have a strong online presence. Galleries are great at getting art safely moved to buyers and the best galleries operate strongly on a trust relationship with their audience, their clients, their artists. Art fairs are expensive though and often that forum discriminates against less populist, emerging or minority artists. What will happen to the Art Fair in times of Covid19? Already many large art events and exhibitions are closed or cancelled. If anyone can innovate in times of crisis it is often the artist. Keep an eye out for new movements and new approaches to art and art finding its audience!
Artists have been increasingly isolated for many years, not by a virus but by the cost of living in cities such as Melbourne, Sydney, Paris, New York, London. Twenty years ago many artists strived to live in urban city environments and made and taught and contributed to a thriving creative city community. Not many do now but the diaspora of arts practitioners to remote country towns and rural areas has added new life to many a country town or community and resulted in some fantastic regional festivals and events springing up around the world. Knowing so many artists with a remote studio planted the idea in my mind years ago to connect them up with an audience via digital technology. It has been with a student who needs tutoring or a friend who has an interest in their work but what do you say we now take the Zoom Bus to some of these studios?
Thanks for coming today and making my lockdown a little less isolating.
If you would like to receive the digital catalogue from Laura and/or add you name to the mailing list for today’s gallery please contact the gallery directly via their website or confirm with me and message me your email address. I have to have positive confirmation by EU law to share your contact details. Below you can view online professional profiles (from the public domain) for some of our participants. I think you will really enjoy browsing these links!
With us today were:
Laura Thompson, Michael Reid Gallery, Berlin.
Belinda Fox (The Netherlands/Australia)
Phillip and Jane (Australia)
Did I forget anyone? (: