How are we fulfilling our artistic policy, our reasons for being? Indeed, are we fulfilling this obligation?
The Art House is here to serve artists and, as they are the antennae through which creativity is transmitted, the objects and concepts that constitute art. This paradoxical role, of an organisation wielding power yet subservient to its members, means we can never lose sight of these basic tenets; there must be some accountability.
It is within the opinions of the members, the artists that The Art House was created for, that the answer lies. To this end several members were canvassed for their opinion on these matters at the recent Affordable Arts and Crafts Fair held here in The Art House.
Many of the answers were suitably abstract, considering the un-concreteness of the question. A sense of an artistic community was a recurrent observation; and what is art without its communities? All the conceptualised movements that we narrate art history through, from the renaissance to the impressionists, were built around community interaction. The notion of the artist as a solitary figure is a strong one and yet it is rare for an artist to be completely isolated. Institutions like the Académie Française and the Royal Academy of Art, whilst at times seeming outdated forces for a conservative spirit, have provided artists with communal support for centuries. In this most venerable of traditions The Art House has followed. In a society that is intensely ambivalent about art, the artist’s place is extremely insecure. Counteracting this insecurity The Art House, as a community, provides its members with the confidence to legitimise their own self-identity as an artist.
Art history tells us that the coming together of those endeavouring to create is a basic need. This was recognised in the feedback given by the artists exhibiting at the Art Fair. The Art Walks and Fairs were seen as an opportunity for this kind of interaction, especially by many of the members who do not have a studio at The Art House. Peer mentoring sessions were also acknowledged as being a helpful initiative in this vein. And lastly the building itself was lauded for its communal possibilities. Not only by providing working studios in close proximity to each other but also in being an ever present hub for connection, a centre around which the community can define its identity.
Steven Chambers - Volunteer at The Art House