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Letters Volume 33.no.1 September / October 2018

The Joy Of Painting

John,
After reading your brilliant article (the title was my starting point, as one who appreciates joy), I became curious to know more about Darby Bannard and discovered that a new exhibition of his work will be held at Berry Campbell in New York from November 15 – December 21, 2018. Without your article I wouldn’t have known anything about him, so thank you for this.
Florence Fowler 08/07 2018

Florence
Thanks Florence. A lot of art criticism is, well, critical. I certainly have written my share of rants about art and art systems that I didn’t like. But what we don’t like is NOT why we keep coming back to art. And I question whether dwelling on what we don’t like is worth all the attention it gets as a result. So I am glad I turned you on to Darby Bannard and that you are finding something to enjoy in his work.
John Link 08/07/2018

John
Hi John, it was lovely of you to answer me, and you are very talented with words. Try as a I may, I cannot grasp the meaning of your sentence, ” But what we don’t like is NOT why we keep coming back to art.” What do you mean here?
Florence Fowler 10/07/2018

John
Thank you John for your article on Darby Bannard and reminding me that this is what we all strive for: “He had nothing left to lose and that opened him to a freedom he had not expressed before, the freedom to love paint, to love color, to love form, to love painting, and to forget everything else. The joy of painting.”
Will Davenport, 13/07/2018

You are welcome Will. Pleasure and joy is what keeps art alive and in motion. Darby provided us with a fine example of how the hedonism of art manages this.
John Link 04/07/2018

The Side of Life I don’t Want to See

Editor,
Thanks to Tim Shaw’s newsletter, I just discovered he has 2 exhibitions, one in London at the Royal Academy of Arts that opened in June and another at the San Diego Museum of Art in October 2018.
Carole Brune’ 04/07/2018

Editor
Doing a little search, I found Tim Shaw’s The Drummer sculpture in the main square of Truro in Cornwall. It’s totally different from his installations in Penzance:
Dott. Giovanni de Santis, 19/06.2018

Reply:
Cornwall is home to many artists, such as Tim Shaw RA. The absence of visitors to The Exchange may be a problem, which is either a problem of the organiser or one of Contemporary Art. I agree Tim Shaw deserves a greater audience. The New Art Examiner has written on Tim Shaw a number of times, including an interview.
Derek Guthrie, Co-founder and Publisher of the New Art Examiner 19/06/2018

Hi Pendery,
When I saw Tim Shaw’s installations, I couldn’t understand what they were doing “hiding” all the way down in southwest Cornwall in Penzance, giving very few people the possibility to see his exhibit. Was it desired that nobody see his work? When I went on a Saturday morning, I was the only one visiting The Exchange and I was surprised. How can something with such a powerful message be so ignored? I seriously doubt if the sale of tickets out-balanced the cost of the 2 installations, and even if there was some sort of grant to cover the costs, why was Penzance selected for the venue? Hopefully, it was just a testing ground for future exhibitions in the major cities of the world, as his work merits much more attention.
Paul Bethwell, 17/06/2018

Hi Paul,
I think an installation about a bombing event might be seen as a security risk by the authorities due to the current situation. It probably necessarily had to be shown in a small city where terrorism risks are at a minimum, but even then a certain amount of risk was involved. More power to Penzance for taking this risk! I doubt that we will see these works in London, Paris, Manchester, New York or Las Vegas, though it would be important to display them there and give people the opportunity to see Shaw’s fine work and vision.
Truman Georges, 20/06/2018

Arts Council grants dictate culture

Dear Daniel,
Recently, as most people know, the Tate St. Ives won the award, Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018. Yes, the quality of exhibition space has improved, the whole gallery has benefited by the new style of architectural expansion. But likewise, will the quality of the exhibitions improve, and, most importantly, will the Tate St Ives organizational management team now take notice of St. Ives and Cornwall artists as part of this development. However, I doubt if this will happen; management and imagination should go hand in hand; no sight that this will take place. Bad management (or prejudiced management) impacts itself as an imbalance between local versus national/international artists, thus the art scene as a whole is screwed.
As an example, I have one personal encounter with wrongly placed and unethical management. When working on an installation at the Exchange Gallery in Penzance in 2011, James Green, the Director, called me into his office, “What can you do about the Newlyn Society of Artists”, I think, alluding to the fact that he wanted to get rid of the local artist society from showing at the Newlyn Gallery as they had done for many years.
The history and purpose of the Newlyn Gallery is important. Built by benefactor John Passmore Edwards on land donated by C.N. Le Grice in 1896, the gallery was given to the local artists who established the Newlyn Society of Artists to become an intrinsic part of the arts in South West Cornwall. Artistic developments are reflected in the names of artists who have exhibited with or been members of the Newlyn Society of Artists, including Stanhope Forbes, Norman Garstin, Walter Langley, Lamorna Birch, Dod Proctor, Laura Knight, Alfred Munnings, Peter Lanyon, Bernard Leach, Patrick Heron, John Wells, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Sandra Blow and Terry Frost.

After my talk with James Green, eventually, artists of the NSA were successfully ousted from the Newlyn Gallery. Local artists then had nowhere to show their work to the public. What can I say, “Well done to authority and bad management and bullying attitudes to myself and the NSA artists?” I hope the new management of Tate St Ives with its new space will be different to what happened in Newlyn(?)
As for what happened at the point where the NSA was excluded from the gallery, the door  was firmly closed on the NSA, an action was required.

Having seen archival documents found in  the county archive, the committee at the time were somewhat inept in not tracking this stuff down to mount a strong case against the gallery.

Presenting the Newlyn Art Gallery management with the evidence of signed up agreements at the right time might have been enough to secure a reasonable renegotiation/rewriting of the original agreement. But once the door was closed, the NAG clearly felt that they had the upper hand and could fob the NSA off. Essentially what the NSA is left with at that time, is “do we have the stomach/finances for a legal fight?”

Tim LeGrice, (solicitor), has seen the documents and felt that there is still a case for the Newlyn Art Gallery to answer.
.
Ken Turner, NSA member,
painter and performance artist
16/07/2018

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Cod Lady

Hello Ken,
Thanks to your letter here I have found the Codswallop genius again and also you as a painter. So you are a member of the Newlyn Society of Artists. Reading your letter which exposes a difficult situation in your area of the world, I ask why no one has exploited social media to make this ousting more known. What about a performance outside the Newlyn Art Gallery, staged though, so that thousands come to the event?

Ken Turner the artist:comment image

George de Vance

Hi Cod Lady,
In your efforts to mobilize artists for Cornwall, specifically the Newlyn Art Gallery, (but also for artists from the rest of the world) you must remember that artists for the most part are apathetic creatures to the cause and wait, hoping to be called on for an exhibition or opportunity; this is the main problem – apathy. We need more artists like Ken Turner who can articulate the unfortunate management of the arts, people willing to go out on a limb and speak up.

Derek Guthrie

So true.Any idea what can be done to alleviate the situation.?

Hagan Black

Reflecting on apathy among artists today made me think of one of its antonyms, ecstasy. The advertising at the top of this webpage, and every other page is of a painting/watercolor entitled “Ecstacy”, representing an overwhelming feeling of great passion. Where has passion gone from painting today, and above all, why are artists taking it all lying down and not protesting the status quo? Some synonyms commonly given for apathy are: depression, coolness, indifference, misery, sadness, sorrow, unhappiness and lastly, hell. Is this what artists have become today? Depressed, sad, sorrowful, and unhappy individuals living in their own hell? We… Read more »

Jack Cohen

It’s a problem for artists everywhere, not just in Cornwall. In Washington thanks to “protests from Washington artists and arts leaders, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities has reversed a controversial new measure to censor its grant recipients.” It is unfathomable that this commission even tried to block artists’ freedom of expression. They had wanted to block whatever it deemed “lewd, lascivious, vulgar, overtly political, or excessively violent, constitutes sexual harassment, or is, in any other way, illegal.” However, it is possible and probable that behind the scenes censoring will continue on a less overt level.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/no-lewd-vulgar-political-art-says-dc-commision-on-arts-and-humanities/2018/11/08/be090a0c-e2e6-11e8-b759-3d88a5ce9e19_story.html?utm_term=.18b7ff5cdea6