After identifying a need for setting aside time to talk about ideas, artists Matthew Stone and Nicola Lane initiated the ART SALON as an extension of Stone’s Interconnected Echoes project and his interest in curated social networks. So in April 2008, artists, writers, art students, performers and thinkers were invited to meet every Saturday at 3pm in Covent Garden’s Hospital Club.
In Stone's 2008 interview with Ana Fingal Horniman he describes the initial ideas behind the Art Salon:
"...It (the Salon) began as a way to continue the conversations I started in nightclubs. Now we talk about the future and what we should be doing as artists...I am keen to stress the importance of an acceptance of failure combined with a willingness to keep trying. It is a key condition for all my working methods and for the Salon's ability to generate different thought and contexts...
AFH: Are you more concerned with the community-oriented process rather than the actual products your endeavours produce?
MS: No, I see them as one and the same.
AFH: On your blog you discuss having baked a yummy looking chocolate cake to commemorate the death of post-modernism. Why do you think it died and how do you think your work differs from PO-MO?
MS: Oh I didn't bake the cake! I just ate it. I don't really worry about whether post-modernism is dead. I just feel that there are disadvantages in becoming overly self-conscious. I associate this with post-modernism. The implications of the sense of powerlessness I discussed earlier are truly frightening and if this is deemed to be a product of post-modernism then I think that we must find pathways out of it..."
Stone’s Interconnected Echoes project functioned as a basis for a series of interviews asking people he admired big questions. Everybody questioned adds a question, and these become the basis of future interviews.
To explore the Art Salon concept of conversation & participation as part of her studio practice, Nicola invited visitors to her studio to be filmed answering big questions selected from Interconnected Echoes:
The Salon evolved into a collective base with the potential for new creative ventures, including participation in the ICA’s Nightclub event, 7 Reasons Why the Future Is Still Possible at the Royal Academy’s GSK Contemporary, and Bold Tendencies II for Hannah Barry Gallery. The Salon was also filmed for BBC4’s documentary series State of the Arts.
In 2009 The Art Salon left the Hospital Club to become nomadic, engaging with different voices in different locations. When Nicola became involved in mentoring for Kingsgate Workshop’s Emerging Artists, she invited the Art Salon to participate in a series of group discussions for the emerging artists. These included exploring the challenges of surviving as an artist, and continuing the Art Salon's playful tradition of 'Didactic cakes' by sharing a chocolate cake inscribed with PUBLIC FUNDING in pink icing.
In 2011 Nicola created the Ideas Collection Box to encourage visitors to her studio to generously donate an idea - the collected ideas subsequently published in her artist's book 39 Ideas.
In 2011 Camden Arts Centre initiated their Test-Bed programme in partnership with Kingsgate Workshops to support over 30 young artists from their Front of House volunteers to create and run a pop-up exhibition. The volunteers were invited to attend a series of events led by Nicola as an extension of the Art Salon.
In 2012's Test-Bed, Nicola again used The Ideas Collection Box to kickstart the process of sharing and discovering ideas, which evolved into The Kilburn Grand Tour project. Nicola scanned the collected ideas to create her 22 Ideas artist's book, with a foreword written by Test-Bed participant Helene Latey:
"Looking through this collection of ideas from our first meeting we’ve all been intrigued to see how strongly the exhibition has retained so many of these ideas at its core. Scribbled on slips of paper, surreptitiously folded and placed in the ideas box, this was our original brainstorm and it was from these ideas that we began to understand what we all wanted from the exhibition: namely, a community focused site-specific study of the Kilburn area. These initial thoughts evolved into our aims and motivation and have been running through the various processes that have gone into realising The Kilburn Grand Tour...We hope that we’ve created an exhibition that will allow people to see Kilburn in new or interesting ways, and that through the various workshops, panel discussions and events, people will contribute their own ideas and artworks about this diverse and vibrant area. It all started with these twenty-two ideas..."
In her text for the Kilburn Grand Tour exhibition catalogue, Nicola wrote:
"Beuy’s concept of ‘Social Sculpture’ and curated social networks are influential in Contemporary art practice; but at the same time, Art that engages with community and participation is often dismissed as ‘worthy’ or as social engineering. The Kilburn Grand Tour with its rich creative responses to a community is a great opportunity for us to explore these differing points of view. What can the practice and the making of art offer the participants or community? And what do the community and the participants offer contemporary art practice?"
September 16th 2012
For more information see the Artist Books section in the menu.