in conversation

May 20th, 2013 | Posted by david kefford in art | art education | discussion | event | gallery | research | venue - (Comments Off)

I will be in conversation with Judith Alder at the next Blue Monkey networking event on

Wednesday 29 May, 6 – 8pm

and offering 1-2-1 sessions with artists:

From the Towner website:

Introducing… David Kefford

We are pleased to welcome Cambridge-based artist, David Kefford, who will talk about his arts practice and projects he’s involved with including the artist run organisation, Aid & Abet which he co-founded in 2009. David is also a member of Market Project and a Trustee of Block 336, an artist run space in Brixton. He is currently a visiting lecturer at University of Hertfordshire.

Refreshments will be available (contributions welcome) or feel free to bring a bottle.

All welcome. FREE to Blue Monkey Network members; non-members £8.

We are pleased to offer artists the opportunity of a 1-2-1 session with David Kefford
to discuss aspects of their practice on Wednesday 29 / Thursday 30 May. Each
session will last around 45 minutes. To apply for a 1-2-1 please email
with the following information:
200 words about your work and what aspect of your practice you’d like to
discuss with David
a short cv (no more than 2 pages)
a link to your website if you have one

1-2-1s are FREE to Network members; £10 for non-members.
To book please e-mail:

Full of Eastern Promise

December 11th, 2012 | Posted by admin in art | discussion | notice | research - (6 Comments)

We’ve been quiet for a while because our official first programme of events and projects has ended, but we’re now thinking about what to do next. In January/February 2013 we’ll be publishing our first policy document, gathering some of our conclusions about what we’ve discovered over the past two years and sharing information we think all professional artists need to know, what best practice might look like in an ideal world, and who are the wrong ‘uns to always avoid (and why).

Two related possibilities are firstly the expansion of the group to include more professional East Anglian artists in the very successful learning, career development and peer support activities we’ve been doing on a small scale; secondly to facilitate mentoring by and for artists, not just on day-to-day career matters but on ethical, economic and personal matters (e.g. the gender pay gap, or managing a career as an artist when you have children) similar to some of the issues we’ve covered on this blog and at our live events. We know already that many artists are grappling with these issues on their own. We’d also like to bring artists together to address some of the failures, omissions and mis-steps of institutions in the region with regard to artist support. We already have some horror stories of our own– mentors who did it in a spirit of ego and competition instead of a spirit of generosity, so-called “experts” who provided totally basic (and sometimes wrong) information as if it was a great revelation, advisers who didn’t even bother to find out basic information about the person they were meant to be helping, lazy old handouts or Powerpoints about general matters, artist groups that are all talk and no action, and so on. We want to do this right, so help us by sharing how you think it should be done.

Some background information and research material:

Case studies from the Cultural Leadership Programme, including our Julie:

Julie Freeman

Helen Carnac

Members of Market Project will be discussing possibilities and experiences with mentoring and artist groups here, but everyone with an interest is encouraged to comment and contribute especially if you’re an artist who’d like to become part of an artist-led support network, or if you’d like to learn from or mentor other arts professionals. What knowledge or contacts do you think you need but don’t know how to get? If you’ve been mentored, critiqued or been critiqued, or worked with a group of artists or studio group, what were the good things about those things and what were the things you thought were wrong?

Between a stroke and a smack

November 16th, 2012 | Posted by david kefford in art education | discussion | interview | research - (Comments Off)

Extract from a conversation between Ronnie Simpson and Phyllida Barlow in a catalogue produced for her exhibition, STINT at the Mead Gallery, 2008;

RS:  one of the myths surrounding your work is your reluctance to have anything to do with the commercial art world?

PB:  I’m having a whole change of mind about this.  Also, I don’t know if that is accurate.  There’s nothing wrong with selling work.  I’ve never had a problem with that.  I think we don’t know how to resist capitalism – we’re not equipped to do it.  Where we’ve placed ourselves within an art world means we’ve signed up for capitalism whether we like it or not.  If we want to disenfranchise ourselves from capitalism, I think it means an absolutely radical shift in so many ways, where art and life perhaps have to be absolutely entwined – where art and life are one and the same thing.

I want to think more about this, but I’m suggesting that to exist without any relationship to the art world demands making your art outside of it – and what does that mean, in reality, and what does that entail?  Of course, it’s possible.  But the art world is voracious, and has the capacity to devour anything and everything.  An ‘outsider’ becomes just as devourable as an ‘insider’.  Such is the success of this capitalist art world we’re all having to live with.

I don’t think about my work in relation to any commercially driven incentives.  It has to be about the urge to do it, first and foremost.  And to reveal something, to be surprised, to let the work lead into uncharted waters, to let go.  Not for selling to be the prime motive.  However, fees and contracts for commissions etc. are becoming increasingly important.  They are an economic incentive, very much so.


“Great art doesn’t come cheap, and with this interactive graphic, you can see which ones took the highest price in auctions from 2008-2011. How do you fetch a high price? Be a man—and be dead.

French freelance journalist Jean Abbiateci created this chart that shows the 270 most expensive artworks sold at auction in those years based on data from ArtpriceMutualart, and Artvalue. The more expensive the art, the bigger the bubble is. (Get it?) The biggest bubble belongs to Pablo Picasso’s 1932 Nu au plateau de sculpteuror Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, at $95 million. (The prices don’t include the fee the buyer must pay to the auction house. With it, the painting pricetotaled $106.5 million, a recordsetting figure.)

Beyond the bubble comparisons, Abbiateci allows you to see comparisons between dead artists versus living ones, male artists versus female, and more, by clicking in the bar to the left. Most striking: All but three of the most expensive artworks were created by male artists. Similarly, most of the sold works were by dead artists, proving the old saying that everybody will love you more when you’re dead. And while the big blue bubble for sculpture L’Homme qui marche I by Alberto Giacometti sold for an impressive $92.5 million, paintings—the orange bubbles—make up the majority of the most expensive artworks auctioned off.”

W.A.G.E – artist payment survey (NYC)

August 4th, 2012 | Posted by Julie in art | discussion | research - (Comments Off)

W.A.G.E. have published their survey findings in graphic format which makes for interesting reading. They highlight the differences between what large and small/medium organisations pay artists, broken down into transportation, fees, installation. It’s a great snap shot that could well be indicative of other major cities. Personally I’d like to see compared the rate of pay that the curators and management of the arts orgs receive, how many non-paid interns they use and so on. I think putting the data in context of others would be enlightening.

W.A.G.E. are also working on best practice docs and rates of pay for artists – I look forward to seeing how these will pan out in relation to a-n‘s models (that article is out of date, 2004, they may be a more recent one).

Check out their new website:

Cut Out the Middle Man

July 25th, 2012 | Posted by david kefford in art | discussion | event | gallery | research - (Comments Off)

Aid & Abet are about to launch their new Summer programme with a focus on: ‘Collaboration’ – to explore ideas around creative relationships, community building, knowledge sharing and peer exchange.

It kicks off this Thursday 26th from midday when the newly formed Associates ‘Take Over’ the space forming an open platform for diverse activities with a series of informal participatory events over the next two weekends – Thurs 26th July – Sat 4th August

On Thursday 2nd August 2012, Rosalind Davis, artist and co-founder of, has been invited to lead a discussion on the current rise of artist led activity across the UK and its potential to impact on the subscribed art world system.  With a focus on How artists can effect change in the current arts system through self initiated projects.  This is a FREE event with no Booking required.

Drinks 6.30.  Discussion starts 7pm – 8pm

More info here


The Art of Collecting Sculpture

June 29th, 2012 | Posted by david kefford in art | blog | discussion | event | interview | research | venue - (Comments Off)

Just read an interesting article on the ArtSpace blog: The Art of Collecting Sculpture – A Q&A With SculptureCenter Director Mary Ceruti.  Some of the questions she faces echo those that we were asking at our second public discussion event, Collecting the Uncollectable at Aid & Abet – issues such as size, longevity, location, taste, cost etc and the “challenges and opportunities for both artist and collectors, who make and buy work that doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional view of art works as unique and self-contained object”.

Read the whole blog post here

self-sustaining artist

June 25th, 2012 | Posted by david kefford in art | data | film | interview | R&D | research - (2 Comments)

Artist, Ben Rivers, talking about his studio practice and applying for an Arts Council grant to fund his research and how this has helped to further his career.

An interesting little article on the incredibly precise mathematics of buying ads with particular search terms to help sellers shift their merchandise on the craft site Etsy.

“When it comes to keywords in the handmade marketplace, Etsy, “penis” and “vagina” are not created equal. Based on Etsy’s keyword ad prices, vagina is worth $0.12 more.

On Etsy, only part of a successful sale relies on having a good product. With more than 10 million users, many sellers make use of Etsy’s internal search ads in order to make sure shoppers can find their goods. For example, a soap seller might buy the “soap” keyword ($0.31 per 1,000 impressions) in order to show up at the top of an Etsy search for “soap.”

And yes, Etsy provides prices for every keyword shoppers search. That includes penis ($0.70 this June, up from $0.60 in March) and vagina ($0.82 cents). Even the slang term “pussy” is permitted, though it costs just as much as an arm or a leg ($1.15 each). Boob is also worth $1.15, but breast is slightly more expensive at $1.20.”

Another line from the article, too good not to quote:

“In other words, people look up “penis” more often in summertime, causing its price as a search term to rise.”

Read the rest of the article at Mashable:

And check out the horrifying extent of genital-related Etsy crafts on the brilliant Regretsy site (“Where DIY meets WTF”).

Keeping the Faith

June 6th, 2012 | Posted by david kefford in art | discussion | interview | research - (3 Comments)

Nayland Blake’s response to a friends apparent loss of (art) faith is poignant, clear, direct and well worth reading:

hi Nayland, I hope you’re enjoying your travels. Can you answer me this? How do I keep the faith when everyone tells me my work is great and yet I can’t land a NY gallery? I know it’s the worst time in history, but it’s been years..(and my Boston gallery just closed) I met with my buddy J the other day and told her that my Armory experience left me thinking that the “art” of art these days lies in the facade that hides that fact that all art is a spectacle. The armory show just felt like a wave of junk for rich people and that all the art lost the importance of effecting cultural change or critically examining it. There just didn’t seem to be any impact, or discussion, or reflection.. I’m really losing it.

Take care,


Read his response here