Vogel Wakefield blog

Vogel Wakefield blog

June
29
2016

David Hockney at the Royal Academy

Hockney

 

David Hockney’s Royal Academy exhibition, 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, is a welcome respite from the bewilderment and despondency of Brexit-Britain.

The exhibition consists of a series of portraits that Hockney began on returning to Los Angeles after the untimely death of one of his studio assistants. In his grief, he lost his purpose and motivation. The series charts, therefore, his turning back to life and a gradual healing. The first portrait is of another of his studio staff, head down in anguish. He appears again towards the end of the series – two years later – more open, engaged and accepting. The series as a whole has a similar trajectory. Hockney begins with busyness and disharmony in the backgrounds but these give way to calmer backdrops, the better to study the people before him.

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March
07
2012

The purpose of an arts organisation

AMA Commons, the blog of the Arts Marketing Association, has published a piece by me on the relationship between the artistic purpose and the social purpose of arts organisations:

“People in the arts tend to have a strong sense of vocation and to take as self-evident that the arts are a good thing. But they are curiously embarrassed to articulate the benefits the arts create. It can be invigorating for arts professionals to inquire into that deeper sense of purpose and to communicate it to audiences and funders alike.”

Read the full piece on AMA Commons.

March
06
2012

The value of culture lies in its capacity to enrich lives

The National Gallery drew large crowds during the Second World War for recitals by Myra Hess

The National Gallery drew large crowds during the Second World War for recitals by Myra Hess

AMA Commons, the blog of the Arts Marketing Association, has published this piece on the relationship between the artistic purpose and the social purpose of arts organisations.

Organisations of all kinds face a new challenge: to demonstrate that they create value for society and not just for themselves.

A reckoning has been a long time coming after the financial collapse of 2008. But it’s arrival is unmistakable – not just in the mood music of the party leaders as they compete to compose the best tune on moral capitalism. It’s evident in the furore around the aborted bonus of the RBS chief executive, Stephen Hester, the broadly sympathetic hearing given to the Occupy protestors at St. Paul’s, and the public revulsion over the phone hacking scandal which brought about the Leveson Inquiry into the role of the press.

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December
22
2011

Art in the time of austerity

National Portrait Gallery

 

We’ve recently completed a project with the National Portrait Gallery, who engaged us to develop a draft social value model. We spoke to people at all levels of the National Portrait Gallery’s staff as well as external stakeholders such as corporate sponsors.

We found this a striking instance of the specifity of making a social value case. It’s tempting to think in generic terms about the social value of any given sector. But each institution is different. The National Portrait Gallery has unique characteristics which differentiate it from other galleries and museums. These are rooted in its founding purpose, which was to tell the story of Britain through portraits of men and women of achievement. Unusually for an art gallery, this means that the subject of the artworks is of greater importance than their artistic merit. Is the National Portrait Gallery, therefore, most similar to other galleries in their role as custodians of arts or to museums which curate artifacts of historic interest? To what extent should it stay true to its Victorian mission to tell a canonical story of Britain versus a contemporary, post-modern one to foster critique of hegemonic narratives and encourage a more inclusive portrayal of Britain?

The answer to these question are determined in part by the view one takes of the social value that the Gallery should deliver under different scenarios of how the economic crisis will play out.

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