Liberty Rowley first introduced me to the London Arts Board a couple of weeks ago. I think the concept is brilliant but wanted to learn more about her thinking behind the project and how it is helping emerging artists.
How long has the London Arts board been running and what’s made is so successful?
The London Arts board has been running since 2011. I moved into a flat on the Peckham Road and was drawn to the piece of waste-ground next door. It had a dis-used notice board on it facing on to the main road, so eventually I commandeered it for my own gallery. I tested it first with a drawing of my own, I deliberately chose an image with plenty of white space, to see if it would attract graffiti. It didn’t so I deemed it safe to show other people’s work.
It has caught the attention and imagination of quite a few people. I’ve been amazed at how respected it had become amongst those who know about it. I’m not sure exactly what has made it so successful, I hope it’s the same things that I enjoy about it; which are the making use of an otherwise unused, overlooked space, and, hopefully, people like the work that I choose to exhibit. My selection criteria are pretty simple: If I spot some work I like, I ask if I can exhibit it.
The huge advantage of The Board over a more usual gallery space is how cheap it is to stage an exhibition. I can show work by an artist based on the other side of the world, without having to pay for the huge transportation or insurance costs that are necessary for a traditional gallery. I simply ask the artist to email me a high resolution image of the work and I get it printed on poster paper, for about £20.
Our visitors can be anywhere in the world too, because although the Board does have a physical presence in the world, viewing the exhibition online is just as good. In fact, I’m always amazed and touched when people tell me they’ve made a special trip to see it in person.
Images from the Current exhibition, Photographic diptych by Jorge Castro Henriques
How important is it to help emerging artists? How does the London Arts Board do this?
It can be a lonely, thankless, expensive task being an artist. I hope the London Arts Board offers not only a space that artists can exhibit their works at no cost to themselves, it also releases them from the pressures of having to fill a gallery for a Private View and having to sell their work. It is simply a means of having your work viewed by a wider audience. I also hope that being contacted out of the blue by me saying, “Hi, I saw your work and I want to exhibit it” is a welcome affirmation that their work is seen and is appreciated.
I’d like to get myself more organised and host an event where the artists I have shown so far can meet up. Most of the artists I’ve never met myself, only spoken to online. It would be great to have some kind of ‘London Arts Board alumni gathering’. It would be fun to get together and talk about art. I have managed to bump into some of the artists I’ve shown though, due to the London Art Scene being so small. I met Mel Cole (http://londonartsboard.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/nob-and-nobbier.html) for the first time at an event hosted by Q-Art (http://q-art.org.uk/) at the Whitechapel Gallery, she recognised me from Facebook. And Jenny Smith (http://londonartsboard.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/holland-park.html), who I discovered through my day job at Mall Galleries, I’ve spoken to at a number of Private Views there since.
Work from the upcoming exhibition, Drawings by Megan Needham
What’s been your favourite exhibition?
My favourite? How can I possibly answer that!
When I look back through the works I’ve shown I’m suddenly aware of how much Found Object assemblage and collage, or work that has that aesthetic or shares those similar concerns I have selected. It shouldn’t really be surprising to me, I make work from and about found objects, and so does my father (http://paulrowley.co.uk/).
I’m also struck by how much of the work is about texture, surface and material, and how showing those works via photographic representations in print and online do nothing to diminish the feelings of tactile physicality.
I want to thank Liberty for taking the time to answer these questions. If you get the chance to go to London in the next couple of weeks I would highly recommend visiting the gallery to see the work.
More info can be found at: http://londonartsboard.blogspot.co.uk