The We Are All Artists free art project began on April 8th 2016, which by my reckoning, makes it three years old. I’d no idea what I was letting myself in for when I started, and I certainly didn’t look this far ahead when thinking about the possibilities.
Since the project started I’ve made and hidden art to reflect the weather, the local river, the community, seasonal events and more. Sometimes I make art to remember people no longer with us, sometimes the art has a musical theme, and sometimes I really struggle for inspiration – but I keep going.
The free art project has enabled me to run several community art workshops, and a pop up exhibition, bringing art to a wider audience. Art classes have developed, opportunities to live paint have revealed themselves. I’ve become a member of our local artists open studios, shown my work locally, and in Germany and France, and as my practice has developed, people have supported me by investing in my work.
Who knew that making and hiding art for others to find could be such a joyful pursuit, and lead to so many other interesting things?
Occasionally I play with an artistic theme called Passing Strangers – faces in profile intended to represent the briefest of relationships…we saw each other, if only for a moment. In a way – the free art project is a bit like that for me, as I’ve been introduced to many people through the art I hide. Sometimes I get caught hiding it, sometimes people drop me a kind note after they’ve found it. Sometimes I get a friendly wave from someone in town whose path has crossed with mine, as a finder, or someone who plays the game and has yet to find a piece.
This week’s free art drop is titled ‘Passing Strangers : Third Anniversary’. Each one of the three faces in profile represents a year of the project. As this is an anniversary piece, it is larger than usual. The canvas measures 30cm x 80cm, so hiding it may prove a little tricky…but I’ll find somewhere to stash it. Happy hunting and thanks for all your support and encouragement over the past three years.
It’s been a choppy week with more than its fair share of anxiety and stress. Fortunately, I’ve got better at spotting the signs, and learning to move with the flow, rather than resist. In turn, this has meant I’ve also been able to enjoy a lot of what is going on around here this week too. Things like…
On Monday I gave two career talks to local school kids. We talked about art, travel, hard work, ups and downs, and more. We shared lots of questions about what’s good, what’s not so good. I appreciate how younger minds, yet to be corporatised often seem more willing to just ask clear questions, getting straight to the point. And there’s a friendliness in the exchanges too.
On Tuesday I had some great business development conversations, and ran a community art class. Wednesday was also primarily about business development, and Thursday contained a lovely joyful moment of handing over a finished art work to its new custodians.
The week is drawing to a close, and the next opportunity approaches. This is the 150th consecutive week of the We Are All Artists free art project. Almost three years ago I started hiding art, and where this project has taken us since, never ceases to amaze me.
I’ve decided to hide this guardian to celebrate the milestone. I painted this a while back, and I’ve been waiting for the right moment to do something with it. ‘In The Fullness of Time’ will be hidden some time over the weekend. Thanks to everyone who supports the project, I appreciate it very much.
The Mayor of Sutton recently hosted a reception to bring together local artists and representatives from Sutton’s twin towns. The four towns that Sutton is twinned with are: Gagny, a suburb of Paris in France; Gladsaxe, a suburb of Copenhagen in Denmark; Minden in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany; and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin. Sutton town centre has a permanent artistic celebration of these twin town relationships, in the form of a mural.
I was fortunate to be invited to the reception, it was a lovely evening full of friendship and cooperation. As a way of strengthening the important cultural bonds between our towns, I offered to share some art prints with our guests, which they have kindly agreed to take back home and hide in their towns. Two copies of ‘Moon Over Telegraph Track’, and two copies of ‘Good Fortune’ will soon be making their way overseas. Both of the designs are connected to our local area, the first represents the river Wandle, and the second is a track which goes over some local smallholdings.
I’m very grateful to everyone for agreeing to take part in this European extension of the free art project, and if I receive any photographs and/or notes about the art works from their new locations, I’ll be sure to update this post.
Art is community : Community is art.
Update : March 2019. I received an email over the weekend. The art which travelled to Minden in Germany, was hidden and subsequently found a few days ago. There was an article written in the local Minden newspaper, so people knew the art would be out and about somewhere. I’ve had a lovely email from the person who found it and I am hoping to meet up with them when I travel to Minden later this month to take part in an art exhibition.