Mar 12, 2009

What me worry? An article about pizza, dirty boots and the state of change in the Australian Aboriginal Art Market.

“When industry norms start to die, people panic. It's difficult to change when you think that you must change everything in order to succeed. Changing everything is too difficult.” Seth Godin.

The art industry like many other business models is in a state of change. We can see the change in the faces of gallery owners, Art Centre Managers and buyers, who are wide-eyed and have their jaws slightly leaning to the south-west. Change is healthy. Change is the only thing we can count on. Change can free us from the very things that have been plaguing our industry over the last decade. The tower can be built as high as the stars but will only reach them with the never failing support of the earth.

The Tower of Pisa “began leaning to the southeast soon after the onset of construction in 1173 due to a poorly laid foundation and loose substrate that has allowed the foundation to shift direction. The tower presently leans to the southwest.” Wikipedia.

People may want their art centre or gallery situated on the top floor of the tower. Best views in town, with no Artists there to see it. Have you ever asked an Aboriginal Artist from the desert if they like living in a high rise apartment, 20 floors up? I have, and I got the darndest looks! What makes the business world want to climb? Some of us have been climbing floors all our lives, some of us have built our own buildings and then caught the lift to the top. Some people in the industry like having BBQ’s on the ground floor by the pool. Paintings are painted on ground level. The floors are swept and bills are paid on the ground floor. Bush trips don’t make sense when picking from the window herb garden on the 12th floor. Sure there is a water-proof plasma screen on the roof watching over the designer zen floor boards and the Backyard Blitz ‘shrubs in a tub’ look, but where are the goannas? Can’t see no tracks on fancy white carpet, just the ones my dusty boots dragged in.

Substrate is a layer of earth compacted and composed with different consistencies as the other layers above and below it – So do we want our industry to be built upon loose substrate like the tower of Pisa? Substrate layers are the very essence of what makes an Art Centre, the community, the country and the values. As easy as it is to find fault with other aspects of the market and worry about the on sale of works, these directions of blame will fix itself if, core values are re-evaluated so that each layer of substrate supports the other firmly from below. Sounds easy, but, the building has to fall before we can rebuild the support structures underneath it. The top artists, they will do fine, they have already reached the stars and are calling out to the rest of the mob to catch up. As for the rest of us, we have to get our hands dirty again, muddy up our boots, and the rest of the industry, they are relocating to bomb shelters, battening down the hatches and having a peek every now and then, is it over yet?

Change is good, keep what works and re-work it. Advertise our community spirit, enjoy the country again, open our eyes to the reasons why we became art centre managers in some of the most remote regions of the planet. If we look closely, we will find that we do not have to change much at all, just be open to the process of making art. The process of building up our art centres strong again, waiting for the return of the market and with it the high flying buyers! Adopt a dog and buy 20 litres of tick juice for them to bath in. Find out what a witchetty grub really tastes like – chicken, fish? Buy a new sat phone just for the fun of it. Make a gallery space where ever there is a wall to hammer a nail in. Have an artist competition judged on the best painting, the most cultural, the most colourful. Have prizes and cups of tea. We are very luck and extremely privileged to be where we are and apart of such a unique existence, so lets celebrate the change of the industry and its market, and keep that frown upside-down. Three cheers! We will be fine in 09!
Anthony Spry

1 comment:

  1. Nice one old chap ...... I was wondering when you were going to turn your hand to writing!? I hope you continue this when the other websight is up! I enjoyed it. Cheers,
    the dude with the sube :)