I used to believe the only way to progress my art career and get noticed was to enter competitions, however the cost each year was about £500 to cover relatively small admission fees, framing, packaging and transport.

The hidden and biggest cost is taking an artwork to a selection process, then collecting if it is successful or not - those journeys are not on days when the exhibition is open and would cost about £120 for each submission that was long listed. 

It is very disappointing to pay so much and to jump through so many hoops that benefit large instituations giving them a 'free' exhibition of contemporary artists work. I was successful in some applications and not in others - this portrait reflected the latter.  I definitely felt defensive and upset and defiant.

I create because I am an artist so I observe, think, create, develop talking points and contribute to cultural conversations. I work and try earn an income - this is incredibly difficult, most artists have second jobs or have financially supportive families. I am often surprised when artists are asked to contribute their work for free (excluding volunteering their skills for a good cause) - it is a funny notion that doesn't apply to other job roles.

It is brilliant to encourage a wider appreciation of the arts but as a society we should be aware of barriers and perpetuating the notion that acknowledgement at a competition might help your career or we will end up with public art exhibitions displaying a monoculture. I feel that painting for a competition invariably puts bias into the art and works to reach to a perceived audience - that's not the best way to shape an authentic artistsic and cultural voice.

Defensive
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Alexandra Gould

Defensive

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