Thursday, 15 January 2009

Do today’s fine art graduates have too many opportunities?

Do today’s fine art graduates have too many opportunities? Pearce and Ramsey respond to Matt Lippiatt's article in a-n.

Dear Editor,

Matt Lippiatt’s review of ‘Best in Show’ featured in December’s publication raised important matters for recent graduates and the direction they should take upon leaving higher education. The student survey show has certainly become standard post degree fare. However, although these exhibitions can be seen as soulless money making ventures, they are also opportunities for all the artists involved, not only the curators, to learn the ropes of exhibiting professionally while allowing audiences to experience work that would otherwise be largely inaccessible. Of course there are the degree shows- but walking through institution after institution and seeing works arranged by medium and department alone, is often an exhausting and uninspiring experience. To be able to exhibit in a new environment outside of the institution so soon after graduating is gladly welcomed and often serves as motivation to make new work.

Young graduates should be encouraged to exhibit. The recent graduate faces the loss of a network of fellow students who have been their most ardent critics and only through exhibiting can artists improve and gain feedback. What we find particularly unconstructive is Lippiatt’s concern that the artists exhibited in ‘Best of Show’ are in the early stages of their artistic careers. The art world is intimidating enough with its cliques and hierarchies, the last thing that artists at the start of their careers need is another artist sneering at their inexperience. Criticism of their work could be understood but an article that focuses solely on their career stage without reference to their art is unjust. These exhibitions are labeled as graduate survey shows and make no attempt to masquerade as anything else. They should not be viewed as finished conclusions but as the first tentative steps into an unfamiliar world.

Having recently left college ourselves we set up Pearce & Ramsey not to ‘win a career’ but to act as the next step in developing our knowledge of exhibiting and create a network of artists that is not institution specific. Ambition is often viewed with suspicion but ultimately there aren’t enough available opportunities unless graduates create them for themselves. The concept of the exhibition was not original or unique but the work exhibited by the artists was, it's just a shame that Lippiatt didn't find room in his article to discuss it!

Yours Sincerely,

Naomi Pearce and Gavin Ramsey

1 comment:

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