What did our ‘Art Expert in Residence’ Estelle Lovatt think of her first Mall Galleries residency day?
I was thrilled to be ‘Art Expert in Residence’ at the FBA Futures 2019 Exhibition. I also wasn’t sure what to expect, as total strangers were invited to join me at my table in the Mall Galleries café, to discuss any question about art, from the exhibition itself, through to ideas around art making, and art market insights.
As a freelance art critic, who has trained as a fine artist, I have the experience of being on both sides of the canvas, but not both sides of the table. Sitting at my designated table, I wondered whether I would feel like I was speed-dating for an art chat. Or be more like Marina Abramovic at her performance ‘The Artist Is Present’.
My table became a place for gallery-goers to rest their feet and eyes, whilst talking ‘art’ with me. I heard lovely comments from people who said how much they liked the exhibition: ‘it’s getting better and better…firing on all cylinders…interesting…impressive’! Several exchanges were very short – a few seconds, but still interesting, some chatted for minutes, others longer.
One of the exhibiting artists, Keron Beattie, who had impressed me with his lead and glass figures, came to chat with his friends. We talked with a primary school teacher about what scale is the right scale to make art, as Beattie’s settles at 6 cms. Another visitor dropped by my table for a chinwag, whilst waiting to go to the talk that was taking place alongside the exhibition. He thought the art ‘looked so vibrant’.
Me and my newly-made art-talking-table-friends created a ‘community’ in which to engage, schmooze and widen our understanding, appreciation and tolerance of our art world.
There were no boring conversations, and it was great to talk about art from the Renaissance to the YBAs – both giving guidance specifically on the individual’s career or work, or more generally the wider subject minus toffee-nosed art-world gobbledygook, often heard, talking about contemporary art and the role of the artist today.
Next time you see me at my table, please do come and join me.”