October 17th 2016, the sun is out, the leaves are glorious, the Eleven O’clock pigeon is sitting by the door, the Debased show was three weeks ago now, the Debased group show marked five pretty intense years of Cultivate events and five non-stop years of organising, herding, promoting, occasionally fighting, five years of talking about other people’s art, promoting other artists (a thankless pursuit on the whole, artists always seem to demand more and whatever you do it is never enough). Five years of making things happen, battling space owners, galleries, landlords, councils and more. Debased was a great show, trumpets were blown, the performance art was intense, emotionally so – beautiful. I though the fifteen (or was it sixteen?) artists on the wall provided a collective body of strong engaging exciting art, it felt like a damn good show, a well put together show (see, more trumpet blowing, it was a good hang). I wasn’t that happy with my own art in the Debased show, slightly depressing to have to spend five days in that basement looking at it, art debased indeed, thankfully the other artists compensated for that and overall Debased felt good enough to call for that blowing of trumpets and celebrating of circles and bananas and colour and cut out. Debased felt good, it feels like a good point to stop and take a much needed breath to two.
And so three weeks on from Debased and deliberately not booking any more shows or taking part in shows or actively trying (too hard) to find spaces, I’m politely turning down invites and resisting temptations both is terms of Cultivate and my own art. Of course the studio here is bursting with paintings, and yes, the occasional invite from an artist or two that doesn’t involve me running the whole damn show and being the one who has to do all the barking and fighting and pissing off of people might be nice – and people do get pissed off, they do take it for granted and tell you however much you’ve done for them it really isn’t enough – they block you, “unfriend” you, curators ban you, artists treat you like an aircraft carrier, and yes, to quote the late Joshua Compston once more, land on you and then use you to take off from again with never a second though for the notion that some of the favour might be returned and that it might be about a little more than just taking taking all the time. We reckon over the last five or so years there’s been around about a thousand or so artists taking part in our many many shows and events, not that many return invites though – asked one artist we had championed again and again for details of a new art space she had found that she was putting a show on at, it looked like an exciting space, she point blank refused to share the information and pretty much made it clear she didn’t need us anymore now that the bigger curators were showing her work, not sure how that has worked out for her, really do hope it is working, still championing her art via the pages of Organ and such, but it is a shame to see how these things flow again and again.
And so for the first times in at least five years there are no Cultivate shows coming up, no venues to organise, no publicity to be done or posters to make, no artists to chase and listen to or deal with while they tell me they can’t get to the hang on time because their big black dog has eaten their homework and no finances to juggle, for the first time in far more than five years I’m not scheduled to be taking part in any group shows, there are no solo shows booked, there’s not a single thing in the diary . A breath is being taken, some much time and space to just paint is being explored and I rather like the beautiful fact that there are no forthcoming events and no artists to deal with and no shows to occupy my mind… The aircraft carrier is in dry dock… (SW)