Performance Publishing

The Neglected Interviews

9780956316608Nine Art Professionals Discuss New Structures for Art Practice

by Ping and David Henningham, Janice and Murray Macaulay, Matthew Shlomowitz, Russell Martin, Cecilia Wee, Eddie Farrell, Michael Wedgwood

Book Information

88 pages
210mm x 158mm

ISBN 978 0 9563166 0 8
BIC code: AB (Art General)


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“Where do I work? Who do I work with? How do I fund work?” Success in art depends on answering questions like these. A lot of interviews just seek fame instead of answering them. But here you’ll find the neglected interviews; interviews that give practical advice. Six artists, a composer (Royal College of Music lecturer), a curator (Resonance FM; Live Art Development Agency – regional Arts Council), and a Christie’s auction house specialist discuss audience, collaboration, interdisciplinary work, funding, generosity, part-time work, growth, longevity, structure, galleries, alternative art-spaces…

The experiences of ‘Rational Rec’, ‘Universettee’, ‘the Shytstem’, and the ‘Henningham Family Press’ recorded here aren’t a blueprint to replicate, but they might just give a hint of what’s possible. You can make art almost anywhere.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part One

Universettee 5
Something To Keep You Going

Henningham Family Press 11
Make A Future You Can Look Forward To

Shytstem 21
New Places to Put Ideas; New People to Place Them With

Rational Rec 35
Being Artistically, Intellectually & Alcoholically Stimulated

Part Two

Subsidy & the Economics of Generosity 49
Developing {With} Your Audience 61
Collaborating With Your Audience 73
Do-It-Yourself 85

Taking Part in the Discussion

Cecilia Wee is an independent arts writer, broadcaster and curator. Cecilia has been an arts documentary programme maker for Resonance FM since 2002. She is co-director of Rational Rec, formerly a monthly interdisciplinary arts event in London and now a commissioning programme. She is finishing her DPhil in Music and Philosophy at the University of Sussex, on performance/live art documentation.

Russell Martin is an artist and writer making art through dialogue, having studied at Glasgow School of Art. Current projects include Portable Radio, a touring podcasting project; Analogue, a dialogue project for Craftspace in Birmingham; and Rational Rec.

Matthew Shlomowitz is a composer of concert music and performance pieces. He lectures at the Royal College of Music and Syracuse University London Program, co-directs the Anglo/Belgian New Music ensemble Plus Minus, was co-director of Rational Rec between 2005-8, and is a member of InterInterInter. He is also Programme Collaborator for the Borealis Festival in Norway.

Janice Macaulay is an artist, living and working in London. Currently artist-in-residence at Cafe Gallery, Southwark Park, she was also artist-in-residence at the L’Abri Centre before completing an MA at Chelsea. Her work, including Universettee lectures, Fix-It show, and Live Well! demonstrations, describes redemption through community effort.

Murray Macaulay is a print specialist at Christie’s auction house. He trained as a fine-art printmaker in South Africa.

Eddie Farrell is an artist, currently living and working in Berlin. A Punk apprenticeship set him off on a trajectory of over 20 years experience as an artist, including countless collaborations like the Shytstem. He doesn’t really produce ‘pieces’, just the detritus of his getting by.

Michael Wedgwood is a painter who is most often found holding a squeegee or a video camera. A prolific collaborator since studying at Cardiff and the Slade, he relishes the learning experience found working with other artists that forms the core of the Shytstem.

David & Ping* Henningham began the Henningham Family Press after attending St. Martin’s, Chelsea, UCL, the Slade and Queen Mary between them. At the Press they initiate lectures, seminars and collaborations with contemporary artists that culminate in the printing and binding of books. They devise live printing and performance events from each release, and are members of InterInterInter. They also execute print and bind commissions.


Subsidy and the Economics of Generosity

Matthew: I get what you’re doing, this sort of.. I guess it all draws us back to the Arts Council telling Rational Rec to grow. And we resist that {Janice: Oh, yeah.}, and we don’t really want to grow, we’re happy where we are, and we’re doing good work and blah blah blah blah blah. But it’s funny that of course you have this corporate language always, and Universettee is very nice, it’s not about growth, it’s just about, erm this nice occasion.

Janice: ..yeah. And I kind of like the way some of the things about the Universettee are almost self-selecting. It’s partly because it’s in peoples’ homes so it’s gonna be small, so sometimes people have like six spaces or something like that. But actually I’ve never turned anyone away yet, so there have been ones – they’ve been kinda fully subscribed but often people don’t turn up, like two or three people, but also it’s only certain people who’ll want to do something like that for free, so that’s self-selecting as well {Michael: Yeah} cos some people are like “Why would I do that, for free” you know, so I like that because the whole, the erm, economy of the Universettee I s’pose is generosity. It’s the generosity of the people willing to speak, and the generosity of the people willing to host, and then the generosity of the people bringing food. You don’t have to bring much, but I think everybody should bring something, and that’s part of their contribution to actually coming as well. So even if it’s just a banana, or whatever, it’s like when you are choosing to do something, you choose to bring something to participate, like a kind of emblem of participation or something…

Eddie: Another thing just to think about, what Russell was saying, about the er, having a space, there’s this different time as well and the economics of it are quite interesting. It’s quite neat, you just get someone’s flat {Janice: Mm} whose got a settee and people bring the food, and then you’ve got the speaker, and I think that’s very different from now, trying to find a, even a disused toilet these days <laughter> it’s like.. 70 grand a week or something, it’s just ridiculous, so it’s actually.. I think the statement within that, it’s very.. very positive.

Janice: I mean it probably in some way puts, potentially it could put some people off coming as well, because I think when you’re coming into somebody’s home it does change the dynamic doesn’t it? It’s not a neutral space, it’s quite.. you know, you are entering somebody else’s home and.. there’s hospitality, all that. And also, I have always been upfront, you know slightly conscious thinking, you have to know a little bit who’s coming or… cos it’s somebody else’s home so if you get some complete nutter who’s coming in and is gonna rob everything… I kinda would be potentially…

David: If people pay for something they’re more likely to trash it. Russell: Yeah that’s true actually

David: Like someone said to us, why don’t you rent out your house for the Olympics, you could go away. But if someone pays like five grand to live in our house {Ping*: For a week!} for Olympics they’re going to trash the place! They’ll feel entitled. And you end up spending more in repairs. So in a sense this kind of generosity of letting someone, giving them your key, letting them in, that’s the security in a way.

Russell: Yeah exactly. Cos it only works if it’s erm.. if it’s free, in a way. Generosity only works if it’s free. There’s another project at – er, I also work at Artquest and we’re about to launch a project called Atelier, where artists internationally can swap each others’ studio space. So, it’s a way of doing an on-the-cheap artist’s residency, around the world. And lots of people have been saying, “But how can I trust someone to be in my studio?” Like, well, because you’re in their studio! <laughter> So it’s a mutual thing, you’ve each got the other over a barrel {David: Yeah} I’m really interested in this kind of notion of generosity in my practice and in the wider world.. but.. you know, encouraging it.

Murray: And that generosity thing, that meal that you <indicates Shytstem> had to launch Shytstem Two was amazing. Was that.. it was like three pounds fifty?

Eddie: All in all in!

Ping*: Three pounds.. three pounds including wine. It was incredible, three pounds including drinks..

Michael: Fine wine, food and service

Murray: ..three pounds is really nothing.. it was incredible.. it was an amazing event, and also the boxes themselves because they’re such..

they’re amazing things but they’re not equated to monetary value, which is kind of interesting. Whether you could do that to sustain yourself, I don’t know. It’s.. it’s really worked as.. <Michael & Eddie begin to laugh> ..can you?

Eddie: No

Murray: No you can’t!

Eddie: Not unless there’s a.. a.. a million other people making them and you swap them or something. I don’t know…

Murray: It was a great thing to do, because it was just very refreshing I think…

Janice: And probably funny for you, because you’re so much in the art market. {Murray: Totally, yeah.} Like when Murray came to that meal he was just blown away, lots of people were, because you just had this beautiful food and a fantastic event and everybody feels really enlivened by the end. So it’s not just.. I don’t know, it’s not just art it’s like this thing that has a life of it’s own.

Michael: It was just a meal.

Janice: But it was..

Michael: It was really. But there were people, you could see people doing a bit of this going ‘Oh my god when’s the art going to happen, when are we going to have to sit here and squirm’ and people were shocked by the end, because it was just a meal. <laughter> It was just a meal.

Janice: But not just a meal in a way, but it was also not just a meal because it was this lovely meal, and very generous, quite extravagant meal but very simple as well at the same time.. and in London, you know…