Monday, 20 February 2012

Axis update: public stand

Axis's new policy has resulted in a number of artists voicing their grievances after being refused membership renewal. As I said earlier, I have been with them since 1999. My complaints to the Charity Commission and a Trustee led to another letter from the Chief Executive at Axis, which said exactly what I expected, and of course justified their review of artists. What unsettled me was the implication that I was one of a few artists to be turned away, but in an article in the Guardian today it is clear that one third of artists were rejected, which is no small number.

I doubt that there will be any changes to the review. One of my grievances is that the criteria changed in 2005, yet it is only now that they decided to do a cull. I believe that art cannot be judged in this way, it can not be labelled and defined as a handful of this or that, like a box of pick and mix sweets.

The article should be in today's Guardian. It is can also be read at the Guardian online, at

(painting: 'Entrance.' Oil and acrylic on wood, 61cm x 41cm, 2012)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Axis artists database

If you Google Axis, you will find this description: 'Axis is at the forefront of presenting artists' practice on the web and connects with other organisations to run events, exhibitions and initiatives that benefit artists...'

I joined Axis in 1999. At the time it was neutral and the criteria were that you needed a formal art qualification and a CV showing exhibition history. I have been a member all these years. My subscription was due to expire on 31st January so I went to my account pages to renew it, and to my disbelief there was a message saying that I had been declined as a member as I had failed the new review process.

After clicking on the link to their revised list of criteria, I realised I had failed on the last of five - namely that I fitted the term 'modern' but not the term 'contemporary.' They made it clear that they had decided to review all artists who joined before 2005 (when certain extra criteria were introduced). Their new remit implied that they would still accept certain traditional or figurative based works. So where, in the end, was the dividing line? It seemed, in my opinion, that the organisation was no longer a neutral showcase for a diverse range of art, but had become a reflection of the selectors' tastes or ideas of what art should be. I had noticed that increasingly it showcased digital/photographic or video based media.

I put out a message on Facebook, and have had a large number of responses from other artists, and I am now pursuing the matter with letters to various art magazines. My complaint to Axis brought no positive result, so now I am fighting for the right of all kinds of art to be reinstated on this website that was started with public funding and still gets public funds. It is a fight for the individual's voice rather than collective opinion, and for the rights of the website's visitors to find a cross-section of art rather than a reflection of market place values or trends.

('Afiromeni.' oil and acrylic on board, 61cm x 31cm, 2012)