Ive been invited alongside my wife, (the painter Sarah R Key) to exhibit at the Southwell Artists Weekend in October. I am extremely pleased to have been asked to do this as I have long admired the artists community in this small Notts town and especially been a fan of Peter Cartwright‘s paintings since I first saw one in an Arts Council touring exhibition in the late 1960’s. but I’m also a little daunted by the prospect of being in any proximity to artists of his quality and the potential for unfavourable comparison!
It got me to thinking about the way in which superb artists rarely get recognition within their own communities here in the UK. On the continent its almost invariably the case that the best of the artists in any locality are displayed within their museums and galleries alongside the ‘names’ from elsewhere. It was the case in Dresden a week or so back when we were there for Ostrale 012. In the fabulous Albertinum alongside important pictures from established twentieth century figures there were a smattering of the recognised (but hardly household names) from the locality. This is not a plea for parochialism – I’d expect only the very best to be included. However it is a sadness that Peter is not (as far as I’m aware) either represented in the Nottingham museums collection nor on regular display in the long gallery at the Castle Museum. Nor for that matter is John Newling and in Derby (though they do have a Michael Porter) there are no photographs by John Blakemore. If you ‘google’ these guys you will certainly begin to understand that they have unimpeachable international reputations that warrant their inclusion in any consideration of quality within the fields they work.
If they were domiciled in Ghent, Malmo, Dresden or Nantes I can pretty much guarantee they would be represented in the contemporary museum collections alongside the holdings of Richter’s, Warhol’s and Beuys. And I reckon they would stand the comparison pretty well.
Its such a pity that here we are in thrall to the ‘tastemakers’ in London whose narrow view (as parochial in its own way as any small museum ‘in the sticks’) dominates the thinking of regional curators (especially of the Arts Council supported venues) who are more conscious of their career development than of quality or audience. There are exceptions of course but, by and large, this is the agenda that wins out and we are all the poorer for it.
Enough of the ranting…I’m thinking I shall show a small selection of the watercolours that are coming along as part of the Deadly Delicious series.