Art For All

There were lots of articles in The Evening Standard today following the death of Brian Sewell. I knew of him but can’t say I ever read anything of his, I think I caught him on the telly a few times and of course once seen ( or heard ), never forgotten. I was pleased to read that he , like me , believed that Art was for all.

I also came across something called Free Art Friday.

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  • Start Date
    Founded in 2012
  • Short Description
    Free Art Friday – As featured on The Culture Show. Artwork placed on the street for any member of the public to enjoy and take home. Go on, make someone’s day!
  • Long Description

    Artwork placed on the street for any member of the public to enjoy and take home — go on, make someone’s day! Post only pictures of free art please.

    Free Art Friday is not an original concept. Ther are many Artists across the world making art and leaving it out on the street.

    There are no rules, thats the joy! In order to keep a record of exclusively free art you need to make sure the work is e…asily removable and does little or no damage to it’s environment.

    some put out canvas, others use materials found on the street, cardboard is popular but your imagination is your limit.

    p.s. It doesnt have to be friday!

    The concept of Free art Friday has many strands.

    For the artist it is an opportunity to create work free from the constraints of commerce, to voice an idea, shout a political message or just amuse and confuse the viewer.

    Art is so often tied to a need by the artist to ‘make a living’ and constrained by gallery and dealer issues. It focuses the artist on the act itself, giving complete artistic freedom as opposed to considering financial and commercial limits.

    Many free art Friday participants’ work is humorous and good natured, hoping to cheer up the walk to work of the viewer. Hoping to make them question everything. To expect the unexpected and realise that along with the need to sell, promote, fight the system and rebel, there is also a need to embellish and entertain in a non profit way without the need to cause damage to property.

    The act of removing the work intrigues. Almost an act of situationist art itself. Is there guilt? Why is it taken – as part of a street cleaning operation, resigned to the rubbish heap? or coveted and displayed? Are they artists themselves? Kids, willing to steal and destroy purely for the act of rebellion or someone never faced with something completely free, not promoting or selling? After all how many things do you know that are completely free, no strings attached?

    All street artists whether producing static or removable art hope to promote discussion in one form or other. “Talk about me and my work”, “Question the images thrown at you” or “Use your political power”.
    (MyDogSighs ’07)

    This group was born out of the original FreeArtFriday flickr group which can still be found

    An extensive record of over 4000 free Art pieces made and put out on the streets for people to take home.

    Go check it out!

    Thinking of free art as an object it would be an interesting exercise to do this but with some way of the viewer being able to say , via social media perhaps, why they picked the object up and kept it, if indeed they do keep it. 

    ” Do You Remember ” 

    Lapin and Me

    These dolls are reproductions of ones produced in the 1950s. They make me squeal with happiness. They’re the sort of thing which, if I come across them and they’re affordable, I cannot resist buying even though they have no purpose and will just add to my already cluttered home. This advertisement knows there are many people like me who cannot resist the lure of items which transport us back to childhood when things seemed so much simpler and happier. I suggested during my research last year that it is often the feeling invoked by an object we are buying rather than the object itself. 

    Clarks Shoes

    Social media is full of images like the one above. ” Do you remember? ” We all seem to enjoy remembering items we owned during our childhoods. I’m pretty sure I had this pair of shoes but in blue. I remember protesting a little more with each passing year when my shoes were bought from ” unfashionable ” Clarks. Eventually my protests succeeded and were rewarded with a pair of burgundy slip on  loafers with tassels from Freeman Hardy Willis! 


    Art has helped me to reengage with the world , allows me to explore and communicate my feelings, ideas and thoughts and gives me purpose. I have met many people for whom this is also the case.  I believe being creative is a very healthy activity that we can all benefit from in some way, so much so that  I would like to use my degree ( if I’m successful in achieving it ) to offer this opportunity to vulnerable people so that they may benefit too. Outeside In is an organisation I have been aware of for a few years.  

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    I missed this exhibition sadly.

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    Full description & bibliography

    Exploring more than a dozen personal collections of contemporary artists, this unique and revealing book probes the aesthetic and psychological dimensions of collecting and shows how objects can influence and reflect their owners’ work. Throughout history artists have collected objects for professional and private reasons. Picasso, for example, collected African and Oceanic art; Walker Evans amassed a huge collection of postcards depicting ordinary Americans; and Matisse was an avid collector of exotic textiles and furniture. This book takes a look at the private collecting habits of contemporary artists including Arman, Peter Blake, Hanne Darboven, Edmund de Waal, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Dr Lakra, Sol LeWitt, Martin Parr, Jim Shaw, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Andy Warhol, Pae White, and Martin Wong/Danh Vo. Their holdings range from mass-produced memorabilia and popular collectibles, such as cookie jars and children’s toys owned by Warhol, to unique curiosities and specimens, like Blake’s collection of Walter Potter taxidermy, and other curios and rarefied artifacts, such as important examples of African art owned by Arman. Presented alongside key examples of their work, these objects provide insight into the inspirations, influences, motives, and obsessions of their owners. A lead essay examines the reasons why artists collect, attempting to understand the relationship between the objects artists amass and the works they make, and contributions by or on each of the artists reflect on the personal significance of collecting habits.

    Product details

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Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 22.43.30Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 23.51.31Peter Blake

In Conversation: Jim Shaw

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In an extract from the Magnificent Obsessions catalogue, artist Jim Shaw talks to curatorLydia Yee about this collecting habits from the first paintings he bought to the strange thrift store findings…

Lydia Yee: What sorts of things do you collect, and how long have you been collecting?

Jim Shaw: When I was a kid I collected comic books and monster magazines, and maybe some baseball cards. As a teenager I had friends who would go to the thrift stores in neighbouring towns and I started collecting weird stuff: old clothes, strange objects I’d find. It was the late 1960s or early 1970s, and you could still buy stuff from the 1930s and 1940s back then. And for me it was always a sort of archaeological or paleontological dig growing up. You know, when you’re going to somebody’s yard sale you’re imagining their life history as you look at the things they are selling. You’re spelunking through people’s subconscious.

The first painting I got was this four-by-six-foot painting on Masonite based on an ad for Breck shampoo, which was always a sort of an out-of-date looking blonde, really creamily painted, surprisingly out of touch with the present of the 1960s. And it was weird that this person did a clunky version of that already clunky thing, and did it so big. I don’t think they were intending it to be Pop art, or they would have painted it more precisely.

LY: When you’re at a flea market or thrift store and you’re faced with a selection of paintings, how do you choose – what draws you to the particular works?

JS: Well, the weirder the better. And that’s why there’s so many surrealist paintings in there. At a certain point you’ve got enough messed-up portraits – they have to be fucked up in a new way if you want any more portraits. There aren’t that many abstractions, because it’s quite hard to find an abstraction that’s interesting but, you know, amateur. I’ve found some, but they’re not loaded with the same psychosexual subtext that a painting of a little kid is, or a broken heart over a Dalíesque landscape.

LY: Do you set any criteria?

JS: I’m not interested in Grandma Moses kinds of things. I’m interested in things that point up the underbelly of America. Interestingly, there are some places in America where the thrift stores don’t seem to have any paintings, like in the real western areas, where everybody has hardscrabble lives. You need enough people with time on their hands… I found a lot of strange stuff in Utah. They have these wonderful Deseret Industries thrift stores that are just chock full of stuff because it’s part of their sort of non-governmental socialism to help families that have ten kids find a way to survive out in the boondocks.

‘All the unknown painters that painted the thrift store paintings are the actual painters of the paintings’

LY: How have some of the thrift store paintings come to influence your work?

JS: Well, the first one I bought, I did my own painting that was the same scale, of this weird ceramic rabbit that I had that kind of looked phallic and evil. And I did a series of ‘Oist’ thrift store paintings that were by me and other people who worked for me, and had to be done by a lot of different people in order to not look like the work of one person. Although I’m quite capable of doing crude drawings, I tend to just rework them until they look right. And I think that’s a subconscious influence on my own work, that because I’m known for having put together this collection of thrift store paintings, one of the hallmarks is that things aren’t right – you know, like the nose might be out of place or something like that – so then I have to be sure that things are right in my work.

LY: Do you have a role as an author in relation to the material you collect and exhibit?

JS: I just see myself as the curator or collector of the work. I’m not the author. All the unknown painters that painted the thrift store paintings are the actual painters of the paintings. It’s interesting to think about how they got there. One painting was of a beautiful blonde and there was this surrealist landscape underneath her, but in ballpoint pen there was a moustache drawn on her and it had been sort of graffitied and it had been curled up like it was thrown in a trashcan. So you wonder what the circumstances were: was this given to the beautiful girl and then she drew on it, or did she reject the guy and he did all this stuff in retaliation against her? I don’t know. There are a few canvases that looked like someone’s attacked them with a knife. That brings to mind all kinds of scenarios.

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Dr Lakras

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Pae White                        


It would appear I am in good company when it comes to collecting things. 


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