On galleries.

Several years ago I took my work to a prominent Melbourne gallerist to hopefully organise a show.
Now, I am dubious of some of this guy’s practices…they seem a cynical way to make money but perhaps his gallery survives on cynical ways that make money.
Anyway.
The gentleman gave my work a good hard critiquing. It was solid & hurtful &, for the most part, true…ish.

I had talent, a perspective but no finesse.

I had to study, he said.
I was a mother living in the country, I said, thank you but that wouldn’t happen due to logistics and my cynicism to ART schools.
I attempted confidence as I said my goodbye, collected my pram, my toddler and walked down a fashionable Melbourne street crying.

At my last exhibition 2 other Melbourne gallerists came to look at my work and expressed an interest in exhibiting it. It seemed to excite one of them. The other was less keen.

The asked me to contact them.
I did.                                                                                                                                  6 times.                                                                                                                             They never returned my calls or my emails, the final of which said that their lack of response, (considering they sought me out), was rude and unprofessional and it was going to be my pleasure to have nothing to do with them.
Add these experiences to my belief that galleries are of limited support to artists.     That many who run them are drowning in pretension.                                                That the system is obviously flawed and fumbling in the new internet defined world. And that an artist should focus on cultivating relationships with people who are intrigued and curious about your work;  people who enjoy and support it.              Rather then the brick wall of rejection (oft described by fashion). Confirmed that I have no want to be part of a traditional gallery system.

One that refers to it’s artists as being part of stable.                                                     One that screws both the buyer and artist with exorbitant commissions.                         One that controls when and where an artist can exhibit.                                            One that oft tries to control what the artist should produce and explore                        … yup, I had come this far without that.

On my own.

I am lucky to be surrounded by support, enthusiasm, encouragement, buyers and opportunities.
But I lack any critical feedback. Nothing since that fella two children back.             And I still think about his words because they are all I have.
I stalk twitter and the net looking to grow.
I draw
I paint
I write
I create
I hope
Hope I am doing something right
Hope I am getting better
Cause I
Really
Really
Want this.IMG_0004

9 Comments

  1. If I had money I’d set up a gallery and if a person as diverse as you had walked through my door – and WITH A PRAM – I would have taken you into my arms and gallery.
    Alas – I am another broke artist traveling a similar yet different path.

    I have had a lot of bad experiences with galleries and collectors, but I chalk it up to experience and I wouldn’t necessarily close that door either – but wouldn’t blame ya if you did!

    Given social media and the breaking of rules it has allowed us I wouldn’t make signing or exhibitionih with a gallery the main focus. Building a network and making work and connections is the thing to do right now.

    A critique on work would be wonderful – which you really do get from schools but given the logistics and the fact that what they have to say and offer differs it’s a difficult if not impossible path to take – right now.

    You are still young, you have so much on right now – just keep truckin Amelia. You’re amazing, as is your work.

    Love you
    Lily Mae
    Xox

  2. Megan says:

    Have you looked up Hazel Dooney? She has a lot to say on this subject and is an example of how to completely and successfully bypass the whole gallery system.

  3. I totally agree with what you wrote here. They can be very unprofessional and of very little support. I had similar experience myself.

  4. In the end, an artist makes what she makes because she has to, gallery or no gallery. Just keep on:)

  5. nedkk says:

    Amelia,

    I would also like to validate your approach to exposing your work to potential buyers and fans. I believe that the internets are also a great place to expose people to that. However, it cannot be denied that having a show with your work on the wall is very effective in giving fans the opportunity to physically stand in front of a piece of your work and gaze at it for hours (or seconds).

    I do fail to see why I should a) pay to have a gallery consider my work. and b) pay the gallery commission on work I sell at my show that I paid them to consider to put up in their gallery.

    I have a friend who’s started just finding any spaces available to him, (friends studios, friends restaurants, etc.) that he can put up his work and invite friends and fans to come and see the show. They sell alcohol at the shows and swag and they come off with a nice bit of profits.

    Just some thoughts.

    I love your work. You don’t need criticism when you’re doing something you love, what you need is passion to continue to create a larger and larger portfolio. I just received advice from a friend of mine who said: “The arts are like a marathon, keep on running, stay patient.”

    Keep up the good work,

    .ned

  6. tlf14 says:

    When I move back to Melbourne I would like to make our house-warming a platform for any small pieces you wish to exhibit. The dress code will be to doll-up as your favourite artist…

    I’m afraid I will need to borrow one of your dresses and I may need you to dredd my hair. ; )

    • ameliadraws says:

      Ha….. that is awesome… it would be my pleasure… You could just thread it with weird yellow wool….hmm who would i dress up as. i have no idea what joy hester or kathe kolwitz looked like and who could resist dali mo?

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