The Passion Behind My Latest Project

My reading pile featuring works about naive art and British and Naive artists in particular

Reading around the subject for my upcoming exhibition project

Working title: "Asking the Moon"

 

Easter has come and gone, bluebells are in bloom and I've planted out the strawberries. So despite the occasional chill wind off the North Sea here in England, I am hopeful that warmer temperatures are on their way.

In the meantime, I am busy laying the groundwork for a major naïve art exhibition to feature work by approximately 40 contemporary naïve artists (20 from the UK and 20 from Croatia) across a range of media and intended to tour across the UK and Croatia, possibly further if we can. Through this exhibition I want to raise the awareness of naïve art; introduce the best of contemporary naïve artist practices to international audiences at both national and local levels; and invite a new generation of artists, curators, gallerists, and collectors to appreciate and engage with the naïve traditions in both countries.

My passion for this project comes from my own experiences of working in a naïve style and with other naïve artists. I have found it both easy and empowering to forget formal lessons in perspective and realism in order to freely obsess about those things which please me most when I am painting, from spiralling stars to paisley trees and flower moons. And I have benefitted from the generosity of established naïve artists who have shown me how I might develop my practice around my daily life and adapt it to my caring responsibilities,* strengthening my emotional resilience and benefitting my mental health. And I have been inspired by the flexibility and simplicity with which naïve art can portray both the mundanity of daily life and celebrate the imaginative experiences which colour it.

And I want to share all those things with you when presenting this exhibition. I want to show you the wide range of things naïve artists are doing in the quiet of their studio and amidst the chaos of their kitchen table. I want to show you how you don't need to have a university degree or take expensive courses in order to make interesting, meaningful art that resonates with others. And I want to invite you, encourage you, and inspire you to try making something yourself. No judging of good or bad allowed, only the satisfaction of doing something with your hands and for yourself.

To realise this exhibition I am working with Elizabeta Wagner, a Croatian curator who worked at the Mirko Virius Gallery in Zagreb during my last two years in the city and in conversation with both the Association of British Naïve Artists and the Croatian Association of Naïve Artists. Together we are asking everyone we know to consider how they might support our project and in June we will be holding a launch event in Zagreb to raise awareness of the exhibition, introduce ourselves to possible partners (individuals and/or organizations), and connect with potential funders going forward. I am hoping to do a similar event in the UK in the fall, but until then we are gathering interest online and via our shared networks - because the truth is that while we aim to tour the exhibition in 2019-2020, this will only happen if we start bringing partners and funders together now in order to make that timing possible.

So, if this project interests you - as an artist, art historian, curator, gallerist, museum coordinator, or potential funder, or it might interest someone you know - we could use your help.

We are looking for:

  • the very best British and Croatian naïve artists working today to consider for inclusion in the exhibition (criteria for consideration will include originality of their work and technical achievement within their media),
  • galleries and museums who might be interested in partnering with us on this project and/or hosting the exhibition as it tours,
  • individuals, organizations, and/or businesses interested in sponsoring and/or helping to fundraise for this exhibition, thereby enabling us to promote the best of contemporary naive art to international audiences,
  • and individuals, organizations, and/or businesses who work within their communities to promote mental and emotional well-being through the arts and may have alternative venues and outreach programmes we might partner with.

Yes, it's a big project and yes it's nearly an impossible dream. But if you know me at all, you'll know that my favourite magic lies in asking for the moon and seeing where the trail of spiralling stars takes me.

  • Still not sure if you can help with any of this? How about sharing this blog post with your network and be sure to sign up to my mailing list so you can follow our progress. You never know, you could be the link that makes it happen!


With love from the far side of the glass,
Melanie

 

*For those new to me, I am a parent carer for my teenage son who has significant social-communication difficulties related to autism and my daughter who has asthma, and finding a way of balancing their needs against my own has been (and remains) an ongoing process.

     

    Click here to see the project page also available as a pdf (A4, single sided)

    Note this article was first published in my studio newsletter, May 2017, along with upcoming events and work in progress. Click here to see the newsletter in full.

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