This week marks the sixth month anniversary since the launch of the Artist Support Pledge, one of the biggest cultural success stories – and feel good initiatives in general – to emerge during lockdown.
Inviting artists to list work for sale via Instagram, for no more than £200, the Pledge has generated 390k posts and seen over £60m worth of art sold. Driven by an egalitarian, supportive spirit, artists who sell work ‘pledge’ to buy £200 worth of work by other artists every time they achieve £1000 in sales.
The Net Gallery recently had the opportunity to interview Pledge founder Matthew Burrows, to learn about the inspiration behind his own art, and the way it intersects with the values that gave rise to the initiative. As a companion piece to the interview, we asked Matthew to select some of his favourite pieces that have been posted by participating artists. In this article, the six artists selected tell us about the artworks, as well as how the Pledge has helped provided solace and support during a difficult and turbulent year.
“I created this piece in 2018 in South West Wales in response to the way that snow and ice cover the landscape and create linear juxtapositions that flatten space. I really love the way that everything is wiped clean by the snow and only the real structure and form can be seen.
“The piece is created using gesso, made traditionally with French Chalk and Size over a very low heat using a double boiler; a bit like a Bain Marie. Marks were then scratched into the surface when the gesso wasn’t quite dry using a very sharp blade. When set, the work was then sanded gently to reveal inherent marks within the medium. Building up and stripping back the surface is an important part of my practice. I also love the melancholy quality of the traditional ground and often use it in my paintings.
“The Artist Support Pledge has been an incredible initiative and it has given me the finance to continue to make work during the COVID-19 Pandemic. I’ve purchased some really inspiring works as part of the pledge from artists who are both established and emerging, and it feels so good to be part of such a liberating enterprise. Meeting new artists and collectors through the hashtag has been phenomenal and I am so grateful to Matthew for being so generous with his idea.” Helen Booth
“I made a decision four years ago to stop exhibiting my work. I continued to paint daily and struggled with what to do with my work and how to become self sufficient and make a living. The Artist Support Pledge has given me an opportunity to continue to paint daily and make a living from my paintings. The work I make does not follow formulas or trends. I make the paintings in a very intuitive manner and constantly move from one thing to another. My painting practice is a bit like channel hopping, I don’t like the idea of setting anywhere.
“I make my paintings in my house, I live with them and as a result we are in continuous dialogue. I make paintings daily and try to paint in the same way that I might sweep the floor or shop for groceries, as natural as possible. I am interested in the human hand, in all its qualities and frailties, and how it can communicate in a world dominated by technology.” Paul Doran
“At the beginning of lockdown, I could feel perturbations, the societal tipping points that were signalling a new and uncertain state of being. This all consuming sense of instability became embodied in the ‘Unsettled’ series. The works explore beauty in an uncertain state, through the infinite potential held within the energy of line.
“In a time where we have all been physically isolated, the Artist Support Pledge has offered more than just a financial lifeline. It has also provided a sense of camaraderie and morale for artists all over the world – for which I am very grateful!” Kayleigh Harris
“What with Covid-19, the Trump presidency, fascism, police brutality, extreme heat, fires and bad air, 2020 has been awful!
“Necessity Enclosed Them is a Covid-19 inspired work. Embedded in this painting are two figures protected, or imprisoned, by a web of rope, or iron. I think the watercolour is so much about the psychological state of these times.
“I have been living near Los Angeles for the last thirteen years. I have been making small idiosyncratic drawings on paper for nearly 40 years. They become an ever-increasing resource of images for my paintings on canvas. It is important that they are small, to remain intimate.
“Matthew Burrows’ Artist Support Pledge has been a wonderful thing for me and many artists. I am a member of Durden and Ray; an artist collective based in LA with a gallery at the Bendix Building, in Downtown LA. The ethos of Durden and Ray and the Artist Support Pledge are closely related. The ASP has created opportunity for me to find new supporter/collectors and the work is affordable for artists to buy. The Pledge means that I have been able to purchase work from my favourite artists. ASP is more than selling work, it is a new community of support and appreciation: a shining light of positivity during these very difficult times. I am so excited about the future possibilities of the ASP.” David Leapman
“Snow Painting II is a piece from 2019 made at my studio in Bromley-by-Bow. It marks the beginning of using wax and encaustic in some of the works, in part to push the speed and urgency of my drawings and collages into a different medium, but also to fuck up how I work. It’s an offspring of an ongoing series of paintings and works on paper titled Crop Rotation.
“Artist Support Pledge shook off any stigma around Instagram/online as an arena to sell work. It’s been a real lifeline to a lot of artists, myself and many friends included. I’ve met (virtually, if not in person) a lot of new artists and collectors through it too. Matthew’s thoughtfulness and ambition in setting up the Artist Support Pledge has shifted the whole dynamic of seeing, selling, and sharing art. Long may it continue.” Daniel Pettitt
“The piece was made as part of a series of figurative sculptures exploring how a sculpture can have anthropomorphic qualities, whilst not having any anatomical features. It has been assembled from sections of wheel-thrown clay and coloured with metal oxides and slips. The Artist Support Pledge is a great initiative, which helped many artists/makers during a very difficult time. Personally, the Pledge helped me massively during a time where I was unable to teach and exhibit due to COVID-19.” Adam Ross
Article by Richard Unwin.
Artists can participate in Artist Support Pledge by posting images of their work on Instagram to sell for NO MORE (can be less) than $200 (£200, €200, A$300, C$300, ¥20000) each (not including shipping.) Anyone can then buy the work. Every time an artist reaches $1000 (A$1500, C$1500, ¥100,000) of sales, they pledge to buy another artist/s work for $200. (A$300, C$300, ¥20000)
So make a pledge and post your work using #artistsupportpledge and follow the #. Keep updated on news and further opportunities @artistsupportpledge and www.artistsupportpledge.com
The artwork shown at the top of the page is: ‘Necessity Enclosed Them’ (2020) by David Leapman.
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