Where is British art? Not in a metaphorical sense, but in a geographical sense. The real sense.
Where can you go to see British art? Is it available to you, locally, in a way that is accessible to you? Do you feel that too much of it is kept from display?
Iain Watson from Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums has kicked things off with his thoughts:
“There’s so much going on! Here in the North East we’ve got the Turner Prize at the Baltic and that has really got people thinking and talking – there’s a great buzz about it. Last weekend was an open studios event in the East end of Newcastle – I went down both days and it was buzzing, lots of people browsing, buying, chatting – all around art! The art ranged from lithography to ‘curated’ vintage clothes for sale. Tonight at the Hatton Gallery we open a wonderful classic sculpture exhibition: John Graham Lough which features loans from public and private collections including the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the V&A and Alnwick Castle. But art is all around us! What is important is that art makes us think - as we live in a time where economic news is more than a bit grim. I’m not naive enough to suggest that art is a panacea but I do believe that British art is alive and that it’s up to all of us to engage with British art as consumers, producers and creators!”
And here’s Brian McAvera on the definition of British art:
“The problem with the nomenclature ‘British Art’ is that the art is rarely British but is usually English. Scottish, Welsh, Irish, and for that matter much art north of Watford, is routinely edited out of the equation. This is a historical phenomenon. When the establishment like a work, it becomes British (even if it isn’t) with the co-relative that if they don’t like it, then it isn’t really art of any consequence anyway.. we can regard this as a continuing legacy of colonialism, or as the pragmatism of an establishment that either can’t, or won’t see that there are alternative visions.” ‘
Where is British art?’ is one of the questions that we will be addressing at the Great British Art Debateconference on Saturday. It’s free (booking required), or you can watch the whole thing live on the web.
Your comments will be fed into the last session of the day, so please do watch and make yourselves heard; you will influence the way museums and galleries work in the future! The hashtag is #gbad11 or you can leave questions in the comments here.
What do you think? Do you feel there is a vibrant British art scene for the public, and are you part of it? Can you access art in the way you want, where you want?