The closed doors of Art Institutions

Following on from the Art fund Museum of the year prize ,which saw Tate st Ives being granted £100,000, I am once again led to question the elitism, and overall inaccessibility of the “Art World.”

Tate st Ives is a gallery which had already received a massive 20 million pound extension. A large sum of money for a gallery already ingrained within a large institution. As the very name would suggest it harks from the grandiose Tate establishment and includes itself within the “Family of four” art galleries around the UK. Its very name has a worldwide reputation which brings in millions of tourists, globally, every year. And its a body which does not appear to be strapped for cash. 

Whilst an already wealthy and acclaimed institution with guaranteed following and visitors gained. Other smaller, intimate and beautiful museums such as the Glasgow Women’s’ Library were once again shoved under the bus. As the Art World said fuck off to those smaller keen institutions and individuals and praised and gifted one of its favourite children.

These small institutions are the very same which also buck the trend of inclusivity and diversity within galleries of today. Bar the odd individual exhibition of a minority artist; (race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender). It is more often than not that the larger art institutions fall back upon the canon of art history. As again and again we see white male artists (albeit brilliant ones) such as Turner , Liechtenstein and Warhol adorn the walls of the forefront galleries of today. With a continual merry-go-round round of “The Impressionists” and “The Surrealists” exhibitions hopping from gallery to gallery. Where the feck is the diversity. 

In contrast to this, smaller galleries such as that of Cartwright Hall in the city of Bradford can be seen to offer a collection well beyond the canon of western art. With an eclectic mix of pre-Raphaelite, monastic Indian portraits, Yinka Shonibare, and Hockney along side the like of Warhol. In fact this gallery is accredited for its broad diversity and inclusivity as all the works are curated together within the same chronology. A device which can only be seen to benefit the footfall of visitors to the gallery, within such a culturally diverse area of the UK. Whereas a large proportion of galleries champion a “need to be in the know” attitude illustrated by the fuck off tiny white plaques, full of lingo not everyone can understand. It is these small institutions that are championing the notion of Wilkommen. Along side the stupidly simple idea that art is for everyone, culture is for everyone and no one should feel excluded by the increasingly stuffy and stale air of galleries today.

But there is change in the air. This year saw the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy Summer exhibition. And once we move past the glitzy celeb filled preview party which might as well spell out exclusivity in diamanté. What Grayson Perry has put together is a beautiful amalgamation. A miss match of prominent artists from around the world. Not separate by country, chronology, or culture but under the slogan “Art made now ” they sit side by side, along with aspiring artists of today. As the royal Academy summer exhibition opens its doors to all, both artists and visitors alike. Maybe there is a glimmer of hope peeking out underneath the closed doors.