Artists’ precarity is not just about pay

15 Mar 2022

In the pandemic, government and ACE built a defensive hedge around the most visible aspects of the arts infrastructure. Susan Jones thinks it’s time to dismantle it.

Royal College of Art opens new £135m campus

23 May 2022

A major new campus for the Royal College of Art (RCA), featuring a space for public exhibitions, has opened.

The £135m development accommodates four storeys of studios and workshops for sculpture, contemporary art, video and film, and design.

Meanwhile, a double-height 350sq m space space known as The Hanger has large doors at either end to enable the installation of heavy, large or complex works of art, and will be used for public exhibitions. 

A similar but smaller room provides research, testing and assembly space for sculpture and robotics projects.

To coincide with the launch, the RCA has announced a new five-year strategy for 2022–27 which includes plans to double the percentage of Black British and People of Colour students and researchers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Online auction to raise funds for Ukraine

11 May 2022

London-based Czech and Slovak language school Okénko is hosting an online auction of artworks to raise money for Ukraine.

The week long auction, co-hosted by artists Tereza Bušková and Lucie Hüskovà, features works by 25 prominent Czech and Slovak artists.

Proceeds will go to help relief efforts in Ukraine, specifically to the People in Need Foundation SOS Ukraine.

Online viewing and bidding will be available from 15 May, with the auction concluding with an in-person exhibition at London’s Czech Embassy on 22 May, which will also feature debates and a creative workshop.

Attendance is free but registration is required on Eventbrite

Ukrainian art galleries partially reopen

10 May 2022

The Lviv National Art gallery has reopened some of its 18 branches in western Ukraine.

Gallery director Taras Voznyak says the decision is an act of resistance: “Putin now has the goal of turning Ukrainians into nobody, into nothing. In order to show that we are alive, we have opened several branches.”

The gallery boasts a 65,000-piece collection in total, displayed in palaces, castles and cathedrals across Lviv province.

The gallery’s most valuable artworks will remain in storage, but Vozynak has not ruled out opening the main gallery in the future. He is also planning online exhibitions, and exhibitions built underground, if funding is in place.

“Life does not stop,” Voznyak added.

DCMS opens £4m museums and galleries fund

10 May 2022

Applications are now open for the latest round of DCMS/Wolfson Fund for galleries and museums in England.

With £4m available in total, museums, galleries and museum services can submit bids of up to £300,000 for projects improving display and interpretation, visitor experience, access and environmental controls and conservation.

Institutions must be, or have previously been, members of an Arts Council England development scheme or sponsored by DCMS to be eligible.

DCMS and the Wolfson Fund have worked together for 20 years, delivering £48m across 400 projects at museums and galleries since the fund’s inception.

Full application details are available via the DCMS website. Applications will close 1 August, with the fund set to be shared out across two years.

Art Fund helps regional curators visit London Gallery Weekend

10 May 2022

Eighteen galleries across the UK have received support from the Art Fund to help curators visit London Gallery Weekend 2022.

The grants will go towards travel and accommodation costs for the event, which takes place this weekend (13-15 May).

The charity said it hopes the scheme will help create new and stronger connections between museums across the UK, London galleries and the artists they support.

Director Jenny Waldman said: “It felt like it was a really good moment to bring people back together.”

“The damage that has been done by the pandemic means that people have not been travelling to see work, travelling to meet each other.”

Project seeks artists of colour ‘to tackle racial injustices’

04 May 2022

Initiative inspired by Black Lives Matter movement will commission artists of African and Asian heritage to help tackle “shockingly low” representation in British public arts institutions. 

UK’s first Aboriginal-owned art gallery to open in Bristol

04 May 2022

Wiradjuri-British artist Jasmine Coe will launch a pop-up gallery in Bristol this summer to celebrate the work of Aboriginal artists. 

Coe Gallery will be Britain’s first indigenous-owned Aboriginal art gallery. It is named for the artist’s father, Paul Coe, an activist involved in campaigns for Aboriginal justice and land rights.

“My art becomes a place where I can learn about the history of my culture and what my family have stood for,” Ms. Coe told the BBC.

She decided to open the gallery in Bristol to highlight the city’s connection to colonialism in Australia.

“Bristol is a city that has its own traumatic colonial history where the historical narrative is now being shifted,” she said. “I believe there is space for the indigenous experience to be heard and to share in how colonialism continues to affect indigenous communities across the world.”

The gallery will hold exhibitions in a pop-up space, with the support of Bridging Histories and the University of Bristol, while Ms. Coe searches for a permanent venue.

Artists scheduled to exhibit include Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill, an Aboriginal artist from Australia.

He told the BBC that it’s important for indigenous artists “to have control over our own narrative”. The new art space will show that Aboriginal communities are “not just surviving, we’re actually thriving,” he said.

Jerwood Arts axes influential programme 

27 Apr 2022

Jerwood Arts will close its long-running exhibitions and events programme at the end of the year so it can redirect funding.

For the last 18 years, the organisation has funded three annual exhibitions of work by early-career artists at the Jerwood Space in London that then tour the UK. 

To date, the programme has shown works by more than 1,700 artists, curators and writers, commissioned more than 250 new works, and exhibited work in 75 galleries.

Artists supported by the programme have been included in major exhibition and art fairs and include the Array Collective, winners of last year’s Turner Prize.

The closure is part of a “refocused strategy” that Jerwood Arts says will support a greater number of artists and curators. 

£1m will be disbursed over three years from 2023 to support early-career artists, curators, galleries and visual arts organisations. It will include 18-month-long residencies for six early-career visual artists.

“The importance of independent funding to support artistic development and freedom of expression feels as urgent as ever,” said Director Lilli Geissendorfer, promising the refocused funding would increase opportunities for artists and curators “at a pivotal moment in their careers”.

A series of events celebrating the 18-year history of the exhibitions and events programme will be held at Jerwood Space towards the end of the year.

Boyce wins top award at Venice Biennale

25 Apr 2022

Sonia Boyce has won the Golden Lion award for Best National Participation at the Venice Biennale, becoming the first Black British woman to do so.

Her winning exhibition Feeling Her Way, focuses on the vocal experimentation of five Black female musicians embodying feelings of power, freedom and vulnerability. The jury said that “in working collaboratively with other black women, [Boyce] unpacks a plenitude of silenced stories.”

Boyce said: “This is momentous, and utterly overwhelming. I want to say thank you to everyone for their support. Their generosity has been beyond my expectations."

Emma Dexter, Director of Visual Arts for the British Council, which commissioned the work for the British Pavilion at the Biennale, said: “Sonia made a work for the Biennale that speaks of hope, experiment, joy and freedom, and the importance of remembering and celebrating women’s achievements and creativity. 

“It is also highly significant that an artist who was part of the Black British Art movement of the 1980s has been honoured in this way – thereby bringing this crucial part of British art history into an international spotlight.”

Past British winners include Richard Hamilton (1993), Anish Kapoor (1990), Frank Auerbach (1986), Bridget Riley (1968) and Henry Moore (1948).

Tate loses Bacon art works to Paris

19 Apr 2022

A friend of Francis Bacon is cancelling plans to donate an extensive collection of the late artist's work to the Tate.

Barry Joule said the decision follows the institution’s failure to exhibit works donated in 2004, when he gave the Tate around 1,200 sketches, photographs and documents estimated to be worth £20m.

Joule has now started negotiations with the archives of the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

The collection includes up to 150 drawings, 10 paintings, hundreds of photogaphs and more than 12 hours of taped material.

“The Tate and Britain will be missing out on part of the nation’s art history of one of their most important painters. I turn my back on the Tate for ever,” Joule said.

Prince Andrew photo damaged in charity auction

19 Apr 2022

A photographic portrait of Prince Andrew was damaged at Chelsea Arts Club after being included in a charity auction.

The image, shot in 2000, fetched £210 at auction, but was torn down from the wall and taken by a club member who protested its inclusion in the event.

One club member said the incident caused “a dreadful ruckus”.

“It’s a wonderful portrait, but always seemed an odd lot for a charity auction... Lots of us thought that it shouldn’t have been included."

Opportunities for emerging artists in market slump

12 Apr 2022

Brexit has edged the UK's art trade out of the global top tier. It could mean more exposure for artists domestically.

Queen art to be 'minted' for jubilee

11 Apr 2022

Artistic portrayals of the Queen will be "minted" as NFTs following an exhibition on London's South Bank.

Ad Lib Gallery are seeking digital depictions of the monarch to display at The OXO Gallery and along platforms at Victoria Station for 'Art Save the Queen'.

Chosen works will be showcased on NFT marketplace OpenSea.

Submissions to the "unique creative challenge" should be made to by May 2 and be no larger than 2 meg each.


Royals cut the ribbon at Spanish art gallery

08 Apr 2022

Prince Charles and Queen Letizia of Spain officially opened a new gallery of Spanish art in Bishop Auckland last week.

The first UK museum dedicated exclusively to Spanish art is part of the Auckland Project, which seeks to regenerate the township around Auckland Castle. It first opened to the public in October.

It features works by Francisco de Zurbarán, which were housed in the castle for more than 250 years before going up for sale in 2011.

They were purchased by philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer, who is the gallery's benefactor.


London art deals 'fuelled by drugs', fraudster claims

06 Apr 2022

A London art dealer and gallery owner facing 20 years in prison has claimed the capital's trade is fuelled by drinking and drug taking.

Inigo Philbrick pleaded guilty to defrauding buyers of more than US$86m by selling artworks multiple times, or selling fractions of them that amounted to more than 100%.

In a New York court this week he said the culture of the London art scene contibuted to his crimes.

Philbrick, who ran a gallery in Mayfair, has provided officials with information about other alleged fraud in the art market, the Times reports.


Curtain closes on TV and Film support scheme

04 Apr 2022

The Government's pandemic insurance scheme for film and television is closing.

First unveiled in July 2020, The £500m Film and TV Production Restart Scheme was extended for six months in October.

DCMS says the scheme supported 95,000 jobs and led to a record £5.6bn production spend.

Its closure follows lobbying from film and TV groups who called for another extension.

Instead, insurance trade bodies will work with commercial firms to provide cover for the screen industries, the DCMS says.

Producers body Pact called the move “disappointing”.

“Pact members and the wider industry now face a very messy period where some productions will be able to get cover and others will not due to the limited number of insurance providers in the market.”

British Art Fair under new ownership

30 Mar 2022

The British Art Fair has been acquired by the world’s largest art fair group, Ramsay Fairs.

Founded in 1988, Britain's only fair dedicated to Modern and Contemporary British Art moved to London’s Saatchi Gallery in 2018 under the ownership of Robert and Johnny Sandelson.

Robert Sandelson has agreed to join Ramsay Fair’s Advisory Committee to “ensure a smooth transition,” according to Founder Will Ramsay.

The acquisition takes Ramsay Fair’s global portfolio of art fairs to 16.

The next British Art Fair takes place over four days from September 29 at Saatchi Gallery.

UK’s global art market share falls

30 Mar 2022

The UK’s share of the global art market fell to a historic low in 2021, according to the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report.

The UK’s $11.3bn share equated to 17% of the global market, 3% less than the year before.

The US recorded the largest market ($28bn), while the Chinese market replaced the UK as second largest in the world ($13.4bn).

The report attributes the decline in part to Brexit and the continued imposition of VAT on art imports. 

“Some domestic EU art trade has been transferred outside of the UK, boosting markets such as France and Germany,” it reads.

Chairman of the British Art Market Federation (BAMF) Anthony Browne says the report “did not make for easy reading from the UK's perspective”.

“[The UK’s] failure to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Brexit and remove the barrier of import VAT [has] put us at a disadvantage on every level”.

Collections need high profile loans

29 Mar 2022

Lending and borrowing are vital for museums and their collections to remain dynamic and relevant. Katie Lloyd and Catherine Monks think it’s one of the best ways to attract audiences back.


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