How to 'Make it' in The Visual Arts

S Mark Gubb is an artist working across a range of media incorporating sculpture, video, sound, installation and performance.  Here he gives his top 5 tips for making it in the visual arts.  Particularly useful for recent graduates but invaluable, as a reminder, to those of you who are already established.

1, First, and most important, always focus on the art. I'm putting this first as it's actually the most difficult to maintain and I often find myself not heeding my own advice. There's admin to do, things to apply for, lack of money, and all that TV and tea won't watch or drink themselves. Try and find strategies that keep you engaged in making, even when you have little time or money – it may be sketching, collage, taking pictures/shooting videos on your phone – simple, quick, easy, satisfying ways of being creative every day, even when your situation doesn't seem to want you to be. A day with 5 minutes of making in it is always better than one with none.

2, Network, network, network. This word still has a lingering stench of the 80s, attached to power-dressing and cut-throat professional manoeuvring, but all it actually means is getting out and talking to like-minded people. You need to be part of your professional community. You can be the best artist in the world, but no-one is looking for you. Get out and about, see shows, have drinks, talk to other artists, talk to curators. Once someone has seen your face and spoken actual words to you, you exist. You're no longer just a set of pixels in a monthly mail-out or on an exhibition flyer. Building a peer and professional network runs a very close second to making work in terms of importance for any sort of future sustainability or sanity.

3, Always think of the wider context for your practice. Cultural lines are more blurred than ever. You may paint, you may sculpt, you may make videos, whatever, and whilst the creation and production of your work may seem like a solitary pursuit, it has a context in the world. It may be relevant to a particular subculture or group, it may have specific relevance to a geographic location or non-art-based activity. Think around your practice and who might be interested in it. Of course your primary focus should remain on getting your work seen within an art context, but this expanded field of vision will be very useful when you come to write funding applications, or develop projects or just fancy taking a sideways step for a short while.

4, Don't worry about the other things you're doing to make money. It doesn't matter if they're not directly involved in the arts. Everyone has to make money to live, so do it however you can. Great if you can get a job in your local arts centre but, if not, work in the local call centre instead. In many ways having a totally unrelated job can help you focus on what you really want to be doing with your life.

5, Be nice. This should probably be at the top of the list. No-one wants to be friends with, or give a show to, or give support to, or give funding to, someone who isn't nice. Nice is a really bad word, but you get what I mean. Be yourself, be helpful and be proactive. (But if someone crosses you, bear a grudge forever. Not really). Be nice.

Image: S Mark Gubb, Alight 2014.  Permanent work, Cardiff City Centre. Junction of Bridge Street & Barrack Lane. Image credit Jamie Woodley




  • Published in Advice

Turrell's Crater Open To Art Professionals For $6,500 Each!

The Roden Crater, artist James Turrell’s unfinished land art in the Arizona desert, will be open to a select group of people for a fundraising event–meant only for “serious patrons of the arts,” from May 14 to 17, reports Art News.

The artist acquired the land the crater rests on in 1977, and has since been working to transform the interior into a “naked eye observatory." Although very few people have seen the inside of Turrell's land art piece, but one of them is the artist's friend Chuck Close, as recounted in a New York Times Magazine profile of Turrell, who made the crater handicap-accessible for the wheelchair-bound his friend.

More details at:

  • Published in News

What is Digital Art?

You don't have to be alone anymore! 1


The term 'digital art' is a difficult one not least because 'digital' has become commonplace - the underpinning of our current system of communication.


What you are reading here is 'digital' - the text is constructed and transmitted using digital services and processes.  Facebook and Twitter are 'digital' - your phone and tablet are 'digital', the card you use to pay in shops and online is 'digital', so where do we draw a line?


There are many artists who have declared that their practice is 'digital', or they produce digital work/items/installations.  Their explorations are  now being taken more seriously by galleries and curators.


In the wake of the growing debate and critical examination of digital art, the British Council commissioned a short video, to ask: What is Digital Art? And why should we pay attention to it?


"Digital art is a term and a practice that has been prevalent in the museums and contemporary art sectors since the 1960s. As technological advances mean that digital innovations are now pervading many more areas of our lives, the arts industry is starting to take the work of artists working in the digital realm increasingly seriously." 2


It is a fascinating look at some of the main activists in the field and provides an overview of what 'digital' art might be.







1, Conrad Bodman, curator and writer (from the What is Digital Art? video, British Council Feb 2015)

2, British Council YouTube channel








  • Published in Finds

Bobby Sayers

One to watch, Bobby Sayers forces us to question the value, function and beauty of our everyday environment. Sayers uses sculpture, photography, curation and participatory performance as a means of translating his ideas. Though elements of his practice seem disparate, they are all connected through his philosophy of highlighting beauty within the ‘now’.

Sayers is best known for his site-specific sculpture and photography, such as Nottingham Colours, where he draws our attention to the simple beauty of the urban landscape, asking the viewer to reconsider the images taken around each gallery he exhibits. Using sculptural pins to highlight certain elements within each of the images, he then extracts forms and shapes, transforming them into large, colourful, shiny and textural objects that abstract the original form; this allows the viewer to reinvent their function as they are removed from their original context.

During a recent residency in Czech Republic, Sayers produced a one-on-one spoken performance, Krásné Svět (Beautiful World), during which he gave away small sculptures that functioned simultaneously as viewing portals and decorative necklaces, allowing each participant to see ‘beauty’ as they look through them.

Sayers seems to hunt for function and beauty not only within landscapes but also within his position as an artist and the systems of art he is involved in. A recent project that questions these concepts is Weather Gallery, a small portable pop-up gallery that fits into a trolley bag, in which the artist acts as director, curator and invigilator. Speaking to us, Sayers described how he has been experimenting with this alternative gallery, “Weather Gallery focuses on an informal, highly connected and formative experience for the audience, as the invigilator I perform the task of relating and engaging with both the works and the audience.”

Bobby Sayers is an artist and curator based in London. He graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a BA in Fine Art. Recently completed a residency as part of the Wild Project in Czech Republic, which has 3 shows to follow in 2014; these will take place in Motorcade/Flash Parade in Bristol, Primary in Nottingham and Xero, Kline & Coma in London. Currently he is touring Czech Republic working on a series of artist workshops.

For more info visit

Krásné Svět (Beautiful World)

Nottingham Colours

Fitzrovia Colours

Weather Gallery

Weather Gallery:
The Wild Project:
Xero Kline Coma:
  • Published in Artists

Emily Speed

Emily Speed is an artist based at The Royal Standard in Liverpool where she works in performance, installation, sculpture, drawing and artists’ books.

Emily explores the temporary and the transient through reference to architecture and the body. Examining buildings, both literally and metaphorically, as physical shelters and as containers for memory, her work explores how built space is bound with the history of its occupiers.Often creating precarious forms in her work, Speed is interested in how architecture represents an especially poignant example of transience; man’s attempt to create permanence and legacy through building.

Recent works are  based around the psychology of space, which has resulted in a number of performative sculptures that are a kind of temporary architectural furniture.   The idea of shelter and the inhabitant is at the core of much of her work; how a person is shaped by the buildings they have occupied and how a person occupies their own psychological space. The word inhabitant contains the root habit (dress) and implies a habitat (dwelling) and Emily's sculptures often have this double function of being both shelter and clothing or masquerade. Works like Mattdress & Drawers and Inhabitant are worn and performed, using somewhat absurd spaces constructed specifically to fit the artist's body. These constructions protect and make her vulnerable in equal measure.

Emily will present a newly commissioned work at the Bluecoat, Liverpool for Topophobia, open 3rd March - 22nd April.


Body-Building (Santa Maria della Pieve) - Polaroid


For more details of her current and past projects visit:


  • Published in Artists

Robin Tarbet

Robin Tarbet graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2006 and is an artist based in East London. He was awarded The Stanley Picker Fellowship in Fine Art Print at Kingston University in 2006/07, where he continues to work as a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, whilst also being a regular Visiting Lecturer at Norwich University College of Art. Tarbet’s work combines two–dimensional media, photography, printmaking and live film with three-dimensional sculptural assemblages.

Whilst showing in many group exhibitions ranging from the Hayward Gallery to the London Underground network, his work has featured in Blueprint Magazine, and in 2007 he had his first solo show at Outpost Gallery Norwich. Tarbet's ongoing series of live installations entitled 'Monitored Landscape Series' was exhibited as part of EAST International in 2009, and then toured in 2010 to be his first International Solo exhibition at Trafo Gallery in Budapest. Current projects in 2012 include ‘Tomorrow’s World’ residency and exhibition at Manchester Rogue Studios, and a forthcoming solo show as part of the ‘Monitored Landscape Series’ at Black Swan Project Space in Frome.

Robin's practice is concerned with the physical materiality of everyday technology.  He approaches familiar consumer products from a wondrous and inquiring perspective. Tarbet assumes the role of a curious folk scientific explorer, which leads him to dismantle, dissect, and distort everyday technologies and appliances.

Aesthetically he examines the architectural and conceptual similarities of the built environment to the increasingly technological yet mysterious worlds within. His work questions the stuff that is concealed on the inside of a computer, or whether there is anything to find behind the façade of the television screen.

As far as searching for answers or technical understanding his approach deliberately adopts the material function of failure, inefficiency, and he utilizes the resistance of the objects in providing any new knowledge that can be applied. Tarbet's aim is not to reveal any secrets, but his curiosity is with uncovering an often eclectic and mysterious collection of real bits and pieces that with few visible moving parts or automated actions, work together to create the products desired function. It is with this real stuff that his own fascination with perceived reality, illusion and the unusual effects of scale and perspective combine. As an artist he substitutes his precise lack of mundane understanding with the notion of play, imagination and the potential for what could be, rather than what is.

Landscape No. 2 - Photographic digital print, 2006
Edition of 5

For mor details about Robin's work visit his website: and his blog: 
He is currently showing in "Tomorrow's World", Rogue Project Space, Manchester.


  • Published in Artists

Rachel Welford

Based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, Rachel Welford works to commission creating bespoke architectural glass artwork, including window, door and wall panels, screens and installations for any architectural application. Rachel also produces artwork in glass and paper based media following her own independent creative ideas making artworks and installations for gallery, domestic interior or exterior environments.

Image: Branches, 2011. Window panel, 2m x 1m, Sandblasted and water-jet cut glass and mirror in painted beech frame.
In the background is: ‘Surface’, 2011, Drawing, 1m x 1m, Graphite powder and black powder pigment on paper.

Creating work that plays with light, reflection, and translucency, Rachel’s recent artwork interacts with its environment. The position or movement of the viewer, along with transitory conditions such as variations in natural light or weather create shadows and reflections within the artwork that come and go. These constantly changing artworks allow new detail and discoveries each time the works are viewed.

Rachel’s imagery is often taken from an artwork’s surroundings, adding an extra layer of reflection or repetition, inviting the viewer to examine closely which images are coming from where, what is reflection, what is real, what is shadow.

Inspired primarily by light and it’s interaction with reflective surfaces, Rachel mixes reflective and matt, transparent or translucent surfaces, layering them to create visually delicate works with complex spatial relationships. Light could actually be seen as the raw material here, which, through interaction with the glass and its various surfaces becomes transformed to create the artwork. It is not the glass itself, but what the glass does that matters.

Techniques include silvering, layering, sandblasting, water-jet cutting, fusing, painting and enamelling as well as traditional stained glass.

Branches, 2011. Detail showing shadows that appear when sunlight falls on the artwork.

Branches, 2011. Detail showing how the artwork changes in different lighting. In this shot there is strong daylight behind the artwork, with light passing through sandblasted mirror. The square water-jet cut hole allows a glimpse of the sharp image behind the front layer of frosted glass.

More details about Rachel's work can be found on her website:
Via her Facebook page:
or on Twitter:

  • Published in Artists

Amy Youngs

We first came across Amy Youngs' work about 3 years ago while working on another project dealing with eco art. 

Amy had produced a digestive table which contains a digestive system using composting worms, sowbugs and bacteria.

Farm Fountain, illustrated here, is a collaborative project by artists Ken Rinaldo and presents a system for growing edible and ornamental fish and plants in a constructed, indoor ecosystem. Based on the concept of aquaponics, this hanging garden fountain uses a simple pond pump, along with gravity to flow the nutrients from fish waste through the plant roots. The plants and bacteria in the system serve to cleanse and purify the water for the fish.

She has recently been working on Exquisite Bodies, a large-scale collaborative video 'mobile' based on the concept of the “exquisite corpse”, which takes the form of an integrated whole, made from many parts.

In this case the form is a large-scale, hanging mobile of projected video, playing on multiple screens. Viewers can interact via two live video feeds, which intermingle with videos captured from the natural and urban body of central Ohio.

Amy has just installed a new work at the RedLine Gallery in Denver, USA.  River Construct, is an indoor composting and plant growing unit that attempts to reproduce a natural system.  There are more details and images on Amy's Flickr page.

Exquisite Bodies 2008

For other details about Amy's work, including links to extensive images in her Flickr stream and videos of many of her previous installations, visit:



  • Published in Artists
Subscribe to this RSS feed


Nottingham - UK - where we are made!

Mostly Cloudy

Humidity: 93%

Wind: 27.36 km/h

  • 24 Mar 2016 9°C 4°C
  • 25 Mar 2016 14°C 6°C