And so Saturation opened a week ago – some thoughts on this year’s shows, the next shows, on-like shows, the attitude of the Arts Council, engagement and…


The Saturation show has now been open for almost seven days, it opened last Tuesday evening, another on-line group show, we’ve curated six of them, one a month ,six very busy shows during a rather fractured 2021 and the eleventh since we opened the #43Artists show back at the start of this Covid-ravaged period. We had planned the #43Artists show anyway, we had been putting on on-line shows since 2017, there’s been seventeen on-line group shows and we think 166 shows and events since the birth of Cultivate back in the Autumn of 2011.  The on-line shows during these fifteen months of pandemic were partly about defiantly keeping on during the various shades of lockdown, we took quite a financial hit when we had to close down our month of physical shows half way through the run in March (you would have though we were exactly what the Arts Council emergency funding was for but no, as previous documented, the aloof Arts Council (officially) see no value in anything we do or have done as Cultivate over the last ten years – let’s not go there again, I’ve had months of annoyingly patronising phone calls and e.mails from them telling me how wonderful Cultivate is, I even had one of them tell me how much she wished she had found out about us before she gave up art and how, if she had, she might still be an artist now.  Loads of patronising e.mails and annoying phone calls but when it comes to actual official support, one big black hole while other very questionable organisations, locked-door galleries and unaffected artists had all kinds of questionable support, I guess with the Arts Council the key is to talk it and press release it in a wordy art-speak kind of way rather than actually walk it and open your doors and actually do it. Enough of that, we’ve said all this before, it would have been helpful to at least have a response when you fill in that not-fit-for-purpose on-line application form of theirs, enough, enough, “Let’s Create”, I;m at a point where I really detest the hypocritical Arts Council’s bulshit now)

Saturation will have been open for a week by the time 7pm comes around again this evening, another busy group show, 37 artists from all over the land and indeed the globe, around 200 pieces of work, so far the show has been viewed almost 10,000 times by people from all over the world, healthy numbers once more. Nowhere near as busy as the on-line shows opened at the height of lockdown but hey, we’re all going stircrazy now and we’ve all had enough of screens and physical galleries are opening up again and enough with on-line when we can be back out there drinking cheap wine. Things are happening again out there (not sure when we’ll be back in physical terms as Cultivate, we’re still licking our financial wounds and still not trusting this hapless government and the spread of this Delta variant enough to risk opening something that has to close early and lose a stack-load of money again.

So Saturation opened, we invited 35 or our fellow artists to join us, we have around 200 pieces of art on show again – I haven’t actually counted it all but I reckon that during the lockdown we showed over 2000 pieces of art from something like 300 artists in the eleven on-line shows we put on – artists from all over the land and indeed the globe, artists from all kinds of backgrounds and ages, teenage art students from locked-down foundation courses in North Wales, artists in their late 70’s recovering from serious Covid and the nightmare of hospitals and ventilation machines and thinking thy’d never make art again, artists who regularly show with us, artists we hadn’t heard of two weeks before a shoe (or indeed a show, there’s never time to proof read, especially with eyes like mine) opened, artists from Cardiff, from Manchester,  Brighton, Bangor, Hull, Middlesborough, Edinburgh, Margate, Yorkshire, Kent, from Berlin, from Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Russia, Canada, America, France, Turkey, Iran, India and many many more, and yes, quite a few from our home-grounds of London as well, we are after all based in London. We love the way the artists (and their followers) have been connecting with each other, the way some of them have started working with each other as a resulting of meeting via our shows, sharing each other’s work on line, we’ve loved watching all that happen organically. The shows at the start of Lockdown we’re getting 20,000 views in the first week, things aren;t quite so busy now, but hey, 10,000 views of Saturation in tHe first week feels more than positive to us.  All the shows are still on-line, all hosted on the pages of our sister website and home of Organ magazine, we see no reason why an on-line show should close, all the on-line shows are viewed regularly by people from all over the world – I see today we’ve had viewers from Poland, Australia, China, Austria, wonder who the one viewer from Columbia was? Actually the split is about fifty fifty, around fifty percent of our viewers are from the UK, the other fifty percent from all over the world (and yes, I probably do check the stats more than I should).

We didn’t really put on these on-line shows as a reaction to the pandemic, we were doing them anyway, true, we did step them up, we wouldn’t have had the time to do them as regularly as we have done if we weren’t in lockdown but but but, we always thought of the on-line shows as a big part of what we do, as excellent ways to open up beyond East London, to engage  and interact with those who can’t get to or take part in our physical exhibitions. Interaction and open doors have always been a big part of what Cultivate is about, art can be so aloof and unengaged, unfriendly, art galleries can be so (unintentionally) unwelcoming. Our policy has always been to have the door wide open and a sign outside, I just don’t get galleries that don’t want to engage. galleries that seeming almost want to make people feel unwelcome and uncomfortable, is there anything worse than having to ring a doorbell to a gallery that has no sign outside? 

And so Saturation opened a week ago, 35 artists invited to join us (making it 37 in total), 12 artists found via an open call process, the rest invited (or invited back). We are constantly watching feeds, bookmarking things, one of the many positives in terms of putting on shows is that both as artists and as curators we are forced to be constantly watch, to be checking out our fellow artists, we’re comparing notes, have you seen her Instagram feed? Did you see his show? We’re constantly on the lookout, always exploring – it excites, I love it, finding a new artist, getting to show the work of that artist and seeing other people engage with it and them, it has been great watching artists develop over the ten years of Cultivate’s life, artists who often showed with us before anyone else would show their work on a gallery wall, it get to be addictive, art excites, watching fellow artists grow excites (even the ones who do just use us as a stepping stone)

And so Saturation opened a week ago, the sixth on-line show of 2021, the eleventh since we opened the #43Artists on-line show to so much noise back at the start of this Covid-ravaged period. Some of the artists have really engaged with it all, others not so much, a couple have taken it for granted, some of it has been frustrating, most of it has been brilliant, we could just go on and repeat the operation in July and August, maybe make it a year of monthly on-line shows but no, it feels like we need to give it a rest now, if feels like we all need a break (and frankly the finances and the eyes are both fragile, and no, we refuse to even think about charging artists fees, that process cuts out so so many people, we’ve been very clear about galleries that think it okay to treat us artists the way they do).

And so Saturation will stay where it is, there to view whenever you wish to, as are all the previous on-line shows. We’ll give everyone a break now, we’ll get on with our own art for a bit until something or someone demands we cultivate something again, until an empty building shouts at us or the demand is there got another on-line show. We’d like to think there will be more, that a situation will demand our attention. I think the six on-line shows this year have been excellent, I’m comfortable in saying it, to shout it, I think the format, when viewed properly and not on a damn phone, when viewed on a proper monitor, these shows have been excellent – I’m rather pleased with all six shows, with the reaction, with the engagement, the visitor numbers – totally ignored by the art media (in this country) of course, we expected that though, they’re more interested in their own selfies than anything else, that idiot i the red hat and that other one with his, nah, let’s not go there, to quote the Other Sean, they don’t know shite from Shineola – kind of why we carry on with the Organ and documenting so many artist-led art shows that otherwise would go totally undocumented.  And so, after a few (very) late nights putting it all together again, Saturation opened almost a week ago,  we’ll leave it where it is so people can explore the art and follow those all important links – there are no plans to close any of the on-line shows –  We’ll leave Saturation and Still and Alright? and Self and the others where they are and we’ll go get on with the next thing(s), we’re far from done with all this cultivating, whatever the aloof Arts Council might say, artist-led things like Cultivate are vital for so so many reasons, hell, the patronising woman from the Arts Council might still be thinking about herself as a working artist if she had found out about us earlier. we’ll be back in a bit, enjoy the shows, more soon… (sw)   

Saturation can be viewed here

The Still show can be explored via this link right here

Links to all previous 15 on-line art exhibitions from Cultivate, all of them are hosted on the Organ pages…

Next / Alright? / Self / ReCultivate / Why? / So Why Not Do It Again? / (And With Good) Reason / (Far From The) Turmoil / #43Artists / Attract Part Two / Intent (Part One) / Accidental / Something Blue / Something Black / Red

A taste of the last six month, click on a nimage to run the slide show ort t oenlarge an image

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