The Real World

Past Project 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

A series of talks held over four years that looked at the practical, political and philosophical considerations of an artists career, and how responsibilities and a career can be balanced

Over forty talks took place as part of The Real World, and all were audio recorded to form resources on this website. Audio is collected here, and is embedded across the site.

Talks were on subjects as diverse as:

  • the reception and difference between crafts v artistic practices (Helen Carnac and Shane Waltener)
  • how artists working outside of galleries comment on the political and social climate (Emma Smith and Jordan McKenzie)
  • how the accessibility of emerging technologies opens up potential new creative practices (Ju Row Farr from Blast Theory and Yael Gilks of Second Front)
  • how the work of female artists is undervalued by the media, and how this is challenged within their work (Cherry Smyth and Rebecca Fortnum)
  • whether it is possible for art organisations today to remain genuinely artist-centred while confronting a lack of space, time and money (Jonathan Harvey, co-founder of Acme Studios)
  • the survival strategies that artists can adopt in ‘hostile’ residency circumstances found in non-arts organisations and businesses and what the role of such potential conflict in a productive residency model might be (Richard Layzell and Lucy Cash)
  • the central role the studio can play in careers and the full potential of studios as everything from exhibition space to office (Duncan Smith, artist and director of ACAVA and Laura Eldret)
  • if artists need galleries, how can they operate without them and how the role and relationship between artist and gallery is changing (Kate Cooper, Auto Italia South East and Louise Shelley, The Showroom)
  • the creative, innovative and surprising ways that professional visual artists make a living: the relationships between parallel work and artistic practice (Charlotte Ginsborg and Edith Marie Pasquier)
  • looking at the financial, philosophical and practical altruism in the context of the biggest reductions of public funding in a generation (Paul Hobson, Director of Contemporary Art Society and Cecilia Wee, artist, writer, anti-cuts activist and curator)
  • alternative art ecologies and how artists might situate their work, and critically develop their practice outside of the conventional art system (writer, publisher and curator Mark Pilkington and artist Cathy Ward)


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