I make large fragile charcoal drawings on paper. By large I mean these are 7ft by4ft. Fragile means it is just carefully arranged dust on paper. They will be hung in a public gallery with a footfall of over 10,000 people.
Protecting the artwork, preserving and presenting it professionally is essential. These will be box- float framed in white wood and picture glass, a crisp contemporary look that contrasts nicely with the dense chiaroscuro charcoals.
Have you done a crowd funder before? It is a great way to make things happen. It is like sponsoring but you get something unique back in return. You can simply donate or make a Pledge to buy one of the things on offer: a print, a T-shirt, an artwork, a studio visit or even a drawing lesson. Go straight to the Pledges now to see what is on offer.
Here is a studio shot of some the Naivety drawings in progress ( October 2017). Some are half this size. They are drawn freehand and there is little room for mistakes in charcoal. I work on several drawings at the same time. ( The one at the back has just been pre-selected for the Threadneedle Figurative Art Prize 2018, whilst still in progress.)
(Follow me on Instagram for regular studio shots like these and check the website for other news.)
The title is a play on the traditional Christmas 'Nativity' scene. This exhibition will be in December. The new work was inspired by the sketch 'Nativity 2016' (See image below). This was a personal response to the tragedy and horrors of Aleppo ( and other cities) that we consumed as the norm on our Christmas TV News last year.
It speaks for it self, I hope, but it inspired me to create many more artworks along this theme. The artworks are a mix of traditional, classical, mythological and surreal with a contemporary twist.
Each of these big drawings tackles a character from the traditional scene. Above we have the donkey and the cow in progress and Joseph as the 'father' and vice versa.
Perhaps you can help me, I am struggling to decide on the 'three wise men' ?
This has created enough work to have a major exhibition on this sadly recurring theme and I have been invited to exhibit these in a fantastic gallery space in Oxford.
This is my first big exhibition outside of Portsmouth and I hope to launch this new body of work into London and beyond in 2018.
Doing this properly is important and will make a big difference to how the artworks are received.
This is the right time to raise the game and aim high.
Detail from Nativity. 1.2m x 1.2m. Charcoal on Fabriano paper. 2016
This is an amazing opportunity to exhibit up to fifteen large drawings in The North Wall Gallery in Oxford.
Halos & Phone Glows. No1/3 in series 2016. 1.2m x 1.2m. Framing this professionally helped to get it shortlisted for 4 National art competitions this year: Royal Ulster, National Open, Royal West of England and The Threadneedle Figurative. Framing by Chris Williams Bespoke Framing. Portsmouth. ( For sale: £POA )
'Young Minotaur' is exhibited at Oxo Towers Barge House this November and Pallant House Gallery this December as part of The National Open Art Competition 2017. It came in the top Ten of the World Art Vote! ( For sale: £POA )
There is no advance funding available, no exhibition fee or help with costs for this. This is normal practice in the art world.... The artist must front and absorb all costs with the hope of a sale to balance it.
There will also be a gallery commission fee to pay on any sales ( see the Pledges and get in there early) and on top of that there are transport and installation costs, flyers posters and my own travels back and forth to Oxford during the exhibition.
On average each drawing will cost £500 just to frame professionally. This is for acid free, UV stable, mount materials, 3mm toughened picture glass or acrylic, wooden profiled and sealed frame with wall fixing details. There is lot of work but it does however get absorbed in the overall value to the artwork.
The biggest hurdle for me is the upfront cost of the professional archival framing. I have done this before and know what is involved. I have a brilliant Bespoke Framer ready to work with. But I have exhausted the traditional funding routes like the Arts Council grants and sponsors. So I turn to you, the crowd for help!
Sketch study for crowd in Naivety scene: Massacre of the Innocents ( for sale £POA )
Chicken and egg problems: Obviously if I sell a few pieces it does return but the best way to sell the art is for it to be ready to buy, to transport safely and to be ready to hang. Most art is bought spontaneously because they love the work otherwise the sale goes cold quickly, it needs to be ready to go.
So, I need to quickly sell lots of Rewards on here or find a major business angel/investor who wants to join me on this journey into the art world. Buy one or two of the drawings in advance of the exhibition and my problem is solved! You are the crowd.
What a difference the right frame makes!
Two large drawings and a set of giclee prints insitu. (for sale £POA)
Seagull & sailor series No5. Framed charcoal on show at The London Art Fair. Exhibited by Gray M.C.A. Gallery 2014. (Artwork sold after)
I work from my art studio 'Atelier' in Southsea Portsmouth. Pop in to see the artwork in progress (check this out in the Pledges). This is where I will make the work and then transport to Oxford.
The Gallery has invited me to exhibit at its busiest time of year. It is part of an Art Centre and Theatre and they will be hosting a professional production of Charles Dickens' 'Christmas Carol'.
I have promised them something definitely more 'Dickens than Disney'!
They are expecting a 10,000 footfall in this peak season. There are three large whitewalls and two smaller ones . The walls are up to 3.3m high and up to 10m long. Each wall will have 5 large 'framed' drawings.
This is an affluent location with good art connections into London. This a great opportunity to enter the market at the right level. Find out more here: https://www.thenorthwall.com/
What are the risks?
The risk is that with out all the funding+ the drawings will have to be hung, on the cheap, most likely behind thin acrylic sheet, to protect them. This method is a last option. A mid range compromise is a handmade wood and acrylic frame, made by myself.
Neither are the best way to preserve the artwork or present it to the high end of the art market. It shortens the life of the drawing and therefore the long term value as these large sheets of paper absorb moisture and shed charcoal under the static from the acrylic. Professional archival framing is the only serious approach to art at this collectors and museum/ gallery level.
The frustration obviously is that one good sale to the right collector can get all of the drawings framed and preserved for the future. Ideally a collector would be looking to buy the whole set of drawings as they have been composed together. Individual sales creates difficulties for ever seeing all of the artworks together in one show again. But I have tried to work on this series so that they work autonomously as well.
In the great tradition, I will die, they will all be worth a bomb and everyone who read this will cursing they should have bought up his early stuff! Or at least one of the affordable Pledges on offer...
Fingers crossed and thank you for your time to read all this and hopefully a moment more to make your Pledge of support. Every bit will help to make this Crowd funder work.
Best Wishes Pete.
Don't forget to come and see the exhibition! North Wall Gallery Oxford. 5th December -6th January. Private view Saturday 16th December.
Book your place on the 'Portsmouth -Oxford Art Bus' in the last Pledge :-)