Exhibiting at the RBSA for the first time: a young artist’s perspective

The public rarely gets to see the behind-the-scenes process by which artworks end up in a gallery. ALFIE HANCOX gives an insider’s point of view, taking us through his experience of exhibiting in the RBSA Open Exhibition.

Alfie writes regularly for ART BLOG, and has just shown himself to be an artist to watch, following his recent selection…

I’ve been really enjoying volunteering for the RBSA blog the past several months, so it’s particularly exciting to have one of my artworks shown in the gallery. It’s also my first time entering into an exhibition, so that has been an interesting learning process for me.

The application process

The process for applying to the Open was nicely straightforward – it involves sending a digital image of your artwork – or artworks – for approval.

What I did find challenging was trying to come up with a price. Artists are notoriously lacking in business sense, and pricing a commodity with what is instrinsically subjective value isn’t exactly easy. In the end it was a compromise. I took into account the exhibitors’ commission, the man-hours and material costs while trying to remain reasonable. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for people who pursue art as a career.

I was also clueless when it comes to the displaying of artwork, but thankfully my Grandpa is an experienced artist and pointed me in the right direction. While at the framers’ I was shown the effect framing has on different artworks. I was surprised how much it can add by keeping the viewer immersed in the artwork, and helping you see the picture as a whole.

A great thing about showing in the Open Exhibition is that there’s also a private view, where you can meet and chat with lots of brilliant artists. Overall the Open is a really good opportunity for newcomers to get their art into the public, and check out great works by other artists in the region.

My painting

Alfie Hancox ‘I will not be the victim’ – Acrylic, £350

Painting for me is something I enjoy as a distraction from my university studies, when I can find the free time. I don’t have any formal art training, but thankfully living in the digital age makes it possible to learn new skills from the comfort of the home by diving into the world of YouTube tutorials.

I use acrylic paint because it’s cheaper and less messy than oils, but can achieve a similar vibrancy of colour – especially if you finish with a varnish.

While the kind of art I really love to look at is loose and expressive, I have an annoying tendency when painting to get caught up in details. For this painting I tried to maintain some abstract brushwork in and around the figures that is hopefully more interesting to look at.

The subject of the painting is deliberately political. It is a representation of Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager who was arrested for slapping an Israeli soldier after her cousin had been shot during the military occupation of her family’s land.

The quote used in the title is taken from an interview with Tamimi that I recommend reading in full. Without getting into the complexities of the Palestine-Israel issue, I will say it’s very important that Palestinians are given a voice, because this is what is almost entirely lacking in popular British representation and discourse surrounding the occupation.

While care should be taken not to put individuals on a pedestal, it’s also undeniable there have always been iconic figures who inspire activists globally – Che Guevara and Angela Davis are two well-known examples. Today, images of Tamimi with her recognisable long curly hair have been taken up by many pro-Palestine activists.

While some of the better socialist art transcends this kind of individualism – the mural paintings of Diego Rivera, for example – the honest truth is I lack the skills to attempt more complex compositions!

By Alfie Hancox, RBSA Blog Volunteer

The Open Exhibition is running now until 13 April – be sure to come check it out!

#artexhibitioninBirmingham #artforsale #Birminghamartgallery #ContemporaryBritishart

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