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Platform Alumni Network Gallery Tour Round-up by Cally Shadbolt

14th May 2019

On Saturday 11 May, the Platform Alumni met for a walking tour of London’s East End galleries with Paul Hobson, Director of Modern Art Oxford. It was enjoyable to connect with other alumni and be able to talk and ask questions, informally, with gallery staff. Paul’s introduction demystified the way commercial, public and hybrid spaces operate and enlightened us on how galleries take on artists. One of the main questions we all had was how to start a relationship with a gallery.

We looked at how commercial galleries, who operate within the primary art market, are always looking for new ways to promote their artists. It is in their interest not only to sell artists’ work but also to work alongside artists, cultivating and supporting their development over the long term. It is through promotion by galleries that artists progress towards acceptance by public and private institutions or collections.

What clearly emerged from the spaces we visited was that making personal connections with a gallery, as well as being familiar with their ethos, was paramount in terms of gaining acceptance and representation. Artists are unlikely to be taken on via unsolicited approaches. Greater success as likely to come from recommendations and introductions, mostly through other artists already known to or represented by the gallery. Paul emphasised the importance of networking such as attending openings of exhibitions, as well as maintaining a website and Instagram account.

Not only was it interesting to hear about the links between some commercial and non-commercial galleries but the tour also introduced us to both the positive and the less than positive aspects of the art market. We came away better informed about the opportunities and pitfalls but, most significantly, about the importance of building a personal relationship with a gallery before any chance of representation can be achieved.

C. Shadbolt, 2019.

Image: Platform Alumni in front of Reclaiming the Inner Space, 2017, installation view, NS Harsha, Victoria Miro.

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