This week started with, amongst other things, a conversation on the news about media bartering. A grosso modo it referenced the way in which large organisations are cutting marketing costs through in-kind exchange.
Swapping goods and services for promotional opportunity or something similar is hardly a new concept, and it is certainly prevalent amongst many arts organisations. Indeed, it is at the heart of how many communities operate.
London Fine Art Studios is testament to this tradition. A Battersea-based, independent fine art school, the Studios is in essence an atelier offering classical art courses for aspiring and established artists. This encompasses drawing and oil painting, printmaking and sculpture, all from within a representational art lineage.
In keeping with the atelier methodology, much importance is placed on learning through exchange. We barter knowledge and experience, in exchange artists, teachers and students alike learn more, enjoy more and ultimately retain more. Small student groups work together, receiving focused and constructive critiques from their tutor-artist who draws and paints alongside them. They also gain from regular demonstrations as well as through observing their peers.
Underlying this process is a deep respect for the craft of drawing and painting. Again, there is a shared understanding that mastery comes through practice. It is the result of concrete instruction as opposed to conceptual or theoretical training, which, all too often, leaves students floundering, trying to run before they can walk.
This collaborative ethos runs through everything we do, and that is a lot! In a previous life one of our award-winning artists was also an award-winning barista (painted left), he now runs the Studios’ coffee bar supplementing his income whilst giving us (and our work) a welcome caffeine kick. We have yoga teachers and chefs, all of whom find a way of trading goods to everyone’s advantage!
It has also propelled LFAS and its artists well beyond the confines of the studios, working alongside a range of organisations across London. Projects with Poet in the City and Central School of Ballet have helped forge new working relationships between different art forms. In the case of Leighton House Museum and Dulwich Picture Gallery we have brought practical expertise to the seat of art history; and, different again, popping up at the Affordable Art Fair and Pintar Rapido we have brought classical principles into a contemporary context.
Whatever we choose to call it – bartering, collaboration, in-kind exchange – this age old tradition has enabled us all to gain at so many different levels. Evidently it brings with it exposure and so the opportunity of increased following and, more importantly, new creative adventures. More significantly, it allows the participants to grow professionally as they try their skills out in new arenas and push the boundaries of their craft.
Finally, in a world that is notoriously cash-strapped and solitary, it has consolidated ties between artists and individuals and meant that we all get more bang for our buck.