Art Matters with Norman Holmes of @KayaGallery

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Artist: Rosie Cunningham

Well that’s another Christmas over and we approach another new year with re-newed optimism and a set of resolutions. Yet, I will honestly say, that my optimism may just simply be a veil for my real fear that many independent businesses, including art galleries are once again going to struggle.

Christmas did not bring in the kind of sales that would support small shops through the lean months before Easter, and then in premises with rateable values above £12,000 look out for significantly increased business rates from April. Many are struggling now to pay these rates and their rents let alone pay themselves any meaningful wages, so be prepared to see more coffee shops and charity shops on your High street as the independents close.

To be fair in offering a counter argument it may well be those galleries who have moved with the times in our Amazon led world and achieve their success by selling printed art in mass produced frames for very low prices that have got it right and achieve a commendable turnover. For myself I’m not sure it’s beneficial for an artist and as a customer these formulaic galleries lack the warmth and love you feel in places where both established and new artists are given space to sell their work at a price that allows them to make a living.

Mind you, talking of new work I took a day off just before Christmas to do some shopping whilst also taking the chance to visit the Tate Gallery to view the latest entries for this year’s Turner Prize, that in memory of the great artist sets out to celebrate brilliant contemporary artists.

Well it was certainly popular and there were a number of folk wandering around taking photos on their mobiles treating the exhibits immensely seriously, but I do struggle with concept art. The winning piece was from artist Helen Marten who makes sculptures from junk and bric a brac. The judges called it, and I quote ‘the way her installation uses found objects and works with ideas, images and forms is almost like a poet.

We were intrigued by the loose endedness of the work with multiple threads of meaning, metaphor and narrative, which reflect a fast paced social media world’ Oh really! There are of course many more such examples of modern art there that I find rather depressing when more traditional art forms are replaced with installations so cryptic that most of us are just baffled by them.

At a time when artists and art galleries are struggling on the High street and there seems to be so much angst in the world I look for art to be uplifting. Please show me something that is ‘beautiful’, even shock me, but give me art that will inspire and move me or simply make me feel better.

In this light do check out the excellent diverse Christmas show on till 14th Jan at the Art Mill gallery in Hyde Park, off Mutley as well as Rosie Cunningham’s latest work on throughout January and February at the Devonport Guildhall.


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