At what point does one become a proper artist? What is a proper artist? This is a question that came to mind as I looked at my painting “If you want to get ahead…” being looked at in the Towner Gallery’s East Sussex Open exhibition. I have previously written about all the nonsense about how my painting came into being and is seems like an age away that all this cobblers kicked off. Seeing it hanging there, in one of the most prestigious galleries in sussex, I found my own feelings more than a little perplexing. This is not my first time showing, updating my art c.v recently I realised just how many things I have done and completely forgotten about. I have done several solo shows, mainly in the late lamented Kave Gallery, but other places also. I have never done anything quite so high profile though, or likely to havequite so many people seeing it. Is this why I felt like I might be a proper artist for one brief moment? What does that say about me? Usually, when I’m asked such a question, the phrase “I dunno” springs to mind. In a way, everyone is an artist the second they decide to call themselves one. Whether they are any good or not is another matter entirely. I guess by that definition, I have been an artist for a long time now. I am guessing that, in most people’s perception, I have only been a proper artist for the last five years but to my mind the shift in my perception would go back to the first time I felt a sense of unease when I was not painting many decades ago. My own personal feeling is that one is an artist when one is compelled to make art. To paint, draw, make, whatever regardless of whether anyone likes it, wants it or what the personal cost is to you as a person. It took a lot to make me even turn up to this show, the nightmarish, depression fuelled, scenarios were only balanced out by my need to treat my partner to a swanky night out, an excuse to wear my Murakami tee shirt without getting any grief and buy myself a jacket to match the infamous maharishi hat in the painting. Yes, I am that shallow! There was a rather surreal moment when one of the selection judges, Jonathan Watkins, mentioned my art piece in his speech but, other than that I managed to remain almost totally anonymous and spent the evening unmolested by anyone wanting me to explain what I do. This meant that I could pretty much observe the show as a punter rather than anything else. Seeing it in this way one thing struck me, there were so many incredibly talented artists from Hastings and St Leonards who I would not recognise or of whom I know nothing. It’s nice to know that there are people out there who quietly get on with their own work and don’t feel the need to go seeking attention at every opportunity. It’s rare that I feel like an extravert but on this night, with my facebook squabble inspired self portrait, I did. You can view the East Sussex show Open daily until September 20th at the Towner Gallery Eastbourne. More details here. If you can’t afford £600 for my painting, you can buy a badge of it here for £2 plus postage.
Going to Town(er)