Portfolio Visit with Wendy J. Levy
Wendy J Levy's contemporary art gallery has, in a way, influenced my interest in art for quite a long time now; having been opened in 2000, very close to where I live, it's been somewhere that I've passed frequently and regularly looked in. When it first opened it seemed incredibly exciting to ten year old me, to have an art gallery so near by, especially as art was my favourite subject. Back then I suppose my awareness of the art world went as far as thinking that if you made images, then you were simply an artist; the borders between fine artist, illustrator, designer etc hadn't solidified yet, nor had I come close to deciding what on earth it was I wanted to draw / paint / create.
With this in mind, and my current state of limbo concerning my ability to actually illustrate, I thought that I'd contact the gallery owner and curator, Wendy Levy, to see if she'd have a look at my portfolio, despite her dealings being mainly within the contemporary art scene. Considering the way of illustration at the moment, I've noticed, while stalking other illustrators on the big wide web, that many do initiate or get offered the experience of exhibiting their work, and it's a good way to generate exposure for their work, as well as an opportunity to make sales. It seemed then, that it'd be worth getting a gallery curator's opinion of my work, so that I may consider how best to edit my portfolio to fit this context.
Ms Levy kindly offered her time and I met her and her gallery assistant, Molly, in the gallery space. I was early, which left me the chance to have a look at the current work on display, while Ms. Levy finished a meeting with two very American Americans, who sounded like they had cash to splash (a look on the gallery's website before my visit and I found a landscape painting going for £14,000. Eep). The work on display, while beautiful, was, as anticipated, very different to what I had to show in my portfolio (and much better), but the idea was to get the opinion from someone well established within the art world, not to compare fine art vs. illustration, so I tried not to worry too much.
The FMP's still not quite at the stage where I have anything that I'm particularly confident enough to include in my portfolio, so my A3 portfolio was as it was at the end of the last module, though I'd made a point of putting my paper-cuttings from the Insect brief, at the forefront, emphasising that this was where I'm heading.
Wendy was really welcoming and looked back and forth through my portfolio, pointing out aspects of work that she liked. While she had nothing bad to say, I appreciated her honesty in regard to the weakness of my watercolour and gouache paintings; even more so, I appreciated her enthusiasm when she came across the paper-cuttings. She remarked that while many people could produce paintings of the same quality as mine, there were far fewer people producing quality paper-cutting. Though Ms. Levy evidently preferred the cuttings, she did mention she liked my use of pattern within my paintings, something which I am attempting to incorporate into my new way of working.
She mentioned briefly that she was one of the judges for Mr. Thomas' Chophouse competition, something that has been mentioned in passing to us at uni, and that i've been aware some people from last year entered, though I'm not entirely sure whether they entered independently or with uni. Nevertheless Ms. Levy suggested that I should submit my paper-cutting work, as she felt it would stand out!
We then discussed the possibility of work experience as an assistant at the gallery, for one or two days a week for an extended period! I said that I was definitely interested but needed to consider it, as I'm already juggling uni work and my part-time job. The meeting ended on a high and I came away feeling like I'm on the right track, and should once again, bow down to the wisdom of the tutors, and stop being so bloody stubborn, because I'm obviously doing something right with the cuttings. Sadly, considering the difficulties of timing and logistics, I can't accept the offer of gallery experience, though I really wish it was possible, as I think I'd really enjoy it, as well as it looking quite swish on my c.v. Oh well, these things come and go. Overall, I really appreciated Wendy Levy's input and the fact that she made time to meet with me.