Calling all fine artists, Q-Art London needs you!

London, 02 March 2009

Written by Chloe Stead

After leaving Amelia’s magazine HQ in Brick Lane I travel down to New Cross to see Sarah Rowles, director of Q-Art London, in her studio. That’s because not only has Sarah successfully arranged four cross college convenors, two group gallery visits and written and printed a book, but she’s also a second year Fine Art student at Goldsmiths University. Phew it makes me exhausted just thinking about it!

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Can you explain a little bit about Q-Art London?

It is a forum for student and graduates from across London art schools such as Wimbledon and Goldsmiths, all of them are on our website. We come together for people to be able to show work and critically discuss the work of other students. It means you can network across a group of people you wouldn’t necessarily hang around with.

So what the heck is a convenor?

Essentially six or seven artists from across the different art schools and levels each speak for about five minutes and then have about twenty minutes to discuss. The format is quite free.

What motivated you to set this whole thing up?

There has been a lot of course cuts in arts departments and it was wanting to have a bit more teaching time I guess. Another factor was that at the degree shows last year there were all these graduates saying “I don’t have anywhere to show” they were all a bit annoyed that now there was nowhere with them to talk about their work. I know when I leave I would like this platform set up for me to be able to show work.
Also when I was applying to art school there was all this myths that each of the art schools were really different and I wanted to dispel that.

Have you found that was a myth or do you think there are similarities in the work of students from the same institutions?

Different people have different views but you can see different trends emerging, they’re not rigid. It might be coincidence but so far Slade has been quite painterly and sculptural. I don’t think Q-Art London has been running long enough at the moment to make those judgements. I think people who come to the events draw there own conclusions.

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How can people get involved in Q-Art London?

Going on to our website is the easiest way, because you can subscribe and we will send you the events list. You can come to any of the events by emailing your name and the name of your college or former college. If you want to present then email me and say that you want to present and I will send you a form.

What kinds of people have been showing at the events?

Foundation to BA, MA, PHD and graduates so far. I’ve also had two none practice based people show things from their PHD, which was interesting. This year it has been on a first come first served basis, because the idea was that the group would critically discuss the artwork and that wasn’t for me to decide. But because the demand has been huge and I have a waiting list of people I think it might have to be selected to create more of a balance in the future.

Can you tell me about the book?

The book is called 12 Gallerists: 20 Questions. When I came to Goldsmiths in the syllabus it said that you had a make a challenge to contemporary art and I thought. What is contemporary art? I interned at different art galleries and Zoo Art Fair and I thought how are they evaluating any of this work? What’s all this stuff here? Who are all these people with money? What’s going on? I just didn’t understand any of the arts market so the idea was to try and find out. So I started to interview some people that I already knew and some other gallerists I was interested in. I started off by going to see Chris at MOT with this massive list of questions. Things like: How do you price work? How did you pick your artists? The questions were of all these important things that you have no idea about. Hopefully it comes through in the book that it starts by knowing nothing and then at the end you have quite a clear idea.

I know you’re a very busy lady so what’s next for Q-Art London?

So we have the Slade event on the 25th and the next event in April. This year what has happened is that everybody who has presented at one of the convenors is going to be in an exhibition at APT Gallery from 2nd – 4th of July. We’re trying to put criticality back into the market place so at the ATP event there is going to be a collectors forum which is going to work in the same way as the convenors. Collectors are going to be invited to ask the artists questions so there will be a lot more transparency about why the artist is being evaluated as a good artist.

Having accomplished so much in a year I don’t think this is the last time we’ll be talking to this busy lady! For more details on Q-Art London events, or to buy the book visit their website.

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