This is the news page, website and blog feed for Cultivate, mostly the thoughts from gallery curator Sean Worrall (and sometimes the contributions of co-founder Emma Harvey). This website did come direct from the corner of the street where Cultivate physically existed for a number of years. Cultivate existed as a physical gallery right in the middle of Vyner Street, East London for around four years, four busy buzzing exciting years until they took our corner back and before they forced all the artists and galleries out and knocked it down. since then Cultivate has been nomadic. In recent (post Vyner Street) times there have been shows in big East London warehouses, under railway bridges in Hackney, in basement galleries in Dalston (over on the Hackney borders of London N16), there’s been things at the seaside, a show in a treasure trove of a draper’s shop, an exhibition or two (or three) in a more formal white-walled gallery under a London Fields Railway arch in E8. We’ve been to car parks in Liverpool, in Folkstone, in Hastings and Margate, there’s been street stalls in Shoreditch, art on the walls of metal workshops in Bethnal Green, we’ve taken part in dog shows, Art Car Boot Fair events, we’ve Cultivated on the streets, in formal Gallery spaces all over town, we’re doing things on-line, in basements, we’re doing it…
Cultivate is about artists doing it ourselves, Cultivate is about open doors and connecting, you will never find a closed-door or an aloof unwelcoming attitude at a Cultivate show, we like people coming in and seeing out shows, our art and our artists (can’t understand those galleries that hide behind unwelcoming locked doors in spaces and spaces with no signs). Cultivate is about making things happen on our terms, you might Cultivate is about doing things in what you might call a little more of a punk rock kind of way – now that doesn’t mean anything goes, we are very picky, we are selective, we take pride in our shows, exhibitions and events. We like pro-active artists who leave their egos at home and keep their attitudes positive. One of the reasons (among many) for starting Cultivate in the first place was because we were fed up with the way artists were being treated in this capital city of ours, it still angers us now, it seems to be perfectly acceptable for galleries and organisations to treat artists as cash cows, to milk them for money, cynically exploiting artists rather working with them (and far too many artists seem happy enough to just roll over and let it happen) . You knows the stories and the types (quite often they claim to be artists themselves), big fees just to submit an e.mail, monthly fees just to be on their overcrowded roster with five million other artist they suckered, massive percentages if they actually ever sell anything – not that they need to sell anything, they’re making money out of you already with there cynical open calls and their 100 artists who were foolish enough to pay to be in this book called the 100 best new artists and their degrees of this and their zeitgeist that and you know the stories. Do it yourself, find a different way, come together and change the rules. Enough of this, Cultivate is about teating artists and treating the people who like to explore art in a better way.
We do expect it to be a two way thing though, we won’t be messed about by artists, we have no time for egos or bad attitudes, we not here to be used as nothing more than a stepping stone or your next career move, support is a two way thing.
When we first moved in to the beautifully unique thing that was Vyner Street there was something like fourteen working galleries and functioning art spaces, it was a destination for people from all over the world, it was special (most took it for granted until it was too late).
We were given two weeks to get out at the end of 2014, the building was knocked down and as with most places and spaces in East London, the corner is now the site for some over priced flats than no one from around here can afford to live in Last time I looked down the street there was a couple of the bigger commercial galleries hanging on while the property developers were busy turning everything else in to expensive housing to sell to overseas investors who then rent it back for as much as they can make ouut of those who can actually afford it, that and the coffee peddlers and the laughable self-declared “future thinker” rich kid who’s mummy bought him a big slice of the street to take over and destroy (he claimed ir was in the name of art, he was nothing more than a property developing wolf in expensive sheep-like friend-of-the-artists clothing, you mostly finding him talking about himself at Ted Talks and such, there’s some further reading here .
These days Cultivate is a nomadic thing. We do things here, there and everywhere, shows in conventional galleries, in car parks, shows under bridges, in railway arches, warehouse spaces, shows in London and shows beyond the city. Some times the shows will be invited group shows, now and again we host open call show, sometimes solo shows or two people shows, sometimes with months of notice and build up, sometimes with just a day’s warning and a guerilla raid…
When Emma and I set up Cultivate as a permanent space at the end of summer 2011, the idea was to have a space that was run by artists and on and artists terms. We were fed up with the outrageous prices gallery owners were charging artists to use their spaces, we were annoyed by the cynical way artists were being treated by those who make their more than comfortable livings out of exploiting artists rather than working with artists in a fair and reasonable way. The idea was for artists to come together, to be strong together, to work together, to stand together and to create an alternative together – to support each other, help each other, to give as well as take. And it still very much what Cultivate is about.
And so here we are in the middle of 2016 (tomorrow is mid-summer day), Emma and I are still finding spaces and places, pulling events together. Some artists are really getting it, some artists just land on us and take take take (and then have hissy fits when they don’t get invited back), while others get that it is a collective effort and they do have to roll their sleeves up and share the commitment and the workload.
Almost five years now, we’ve learned a lot, we’ve made some mistakes, I’d like to think we’ve got a lot of it right. We’ve put on something like 150 art shows, we’ve shown the work of well over a thousand artists, we’ve been excited by artists, we’ve been disappointed by artists, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve shouted about artists (occasionally we’ve shouted at artists), we’ve fought to survive, we’ve met loads of great people, (some great dogs as well, dogs love art galleries), we’ve made some great friends, we’ve made one or two enemies. We’ve watch artists who got their first gallery experience via our walls go on to great things, we continue to be excited by new artists, we still see artists being exploited, we still see a cynical London art business looking to fool new young artists in to parting with their cash, some indeed try to silence us when we speak out about their cynical ways…
Mostly we’re just artists trying to do things the right way, do it on our terms and if you’re thinking is on the same wave length as ours (and your art genuinely excites us) then we’re happy to work with you. park your ego and your attitude outside and come say hello, come and work with us, but do remember, support is a two way thing, in needs to be about give as well as take, and to slightly misquote something someone else once said, we are not here as some sort of aircraft carrier for you to land on and then use to take off from .