Monday, February 28, 2011

speed dating...

For the past two days (not ALL day, both days, mind you) I've been brushing up and then letting loose in 'speed dating for artists'

(here is my portfolio - an ordinary A3 folder that I customised with a quirky felt covering)

For those not familiar - 'speed-dating' aims to bring artists and galleries together - it's supposed to be a fast, furious, fun way for both sides to meet..... and given the tyranny of distance that we non-urban arteests often experience, it's a valuable opportunity to meet and press the flesh with lots of arty folk from far far away. The outcome (so the industry gods watching over and helping with the funding of the event are hoping) is that the meet-and-greet might lead to ever-lasting loooove between artist and gallery

'Speed dating' kicked off in Australia in the Northern Rivers arts region (northern NSW) a couple of years ago - and we had the original project's co-ordinator (the delightful Merinda... gosh I hope I got that name right.... I'm DREADFUL with remembering names) and her head-honcho (Tony) down these past couple of days to oversee and assist. The South East Arts Region (SEAR) is the third region to have a 'speed-dating' event (Orange recently had a version - again this was overseen by Northern Rivers speed-dating gurus)

Now this story actually began a couple of months ago - with a call to artists on the coast and hinterland (ie - the  Eurobodalla, Bega Valley, Cooma-Monaro, Bombala and Snowy River Shires) to participate.... 24 artists from the extended region were then selected (and as you've gathered - yes I was one).

Fast forward to yesterday - when we artists came together in the Dolphin Room, Club Sapphire, Merimbula ....

(most of the arteests are in this shot... there are a few lurking in the right hand corner...
I've got to say - I didn't see any dolphins in the 'Dolphin' room)

First - We had to LEARN how to speed date. To give you an idea of the process try this - in under 2 mins introduce yourself and explain what you do.... (you can do this irrespective of whether or not you're an artist)  oh and remember to assume you are talking to a stranger

ready... set.... GO!

(tick tick tick tick TIME'S UP!)

not easy eh!

well THAT we soon learned, is the nasty reality of speed dating

(some of us found it more fast and furious than others...
here's the totally unflappable tim and tanja enjoying a nice cuppa on practice afternoon)

We also got to enjoy an illuminating chat from Randi at King Street Gallery (Sydney) who told us all about the realities of running a commercial gallery - from the percentage and pricing structures, (and how some commercial galleries ask for 50% or more commission..... or ask for a percentage of prize monies earned... corrr!)  to expenses (who pays for what - from opening night eats and drinks, to catalogues, advertising, and the very scary 'incidentals')

I've got to say, for a commercial gallery virgin (that's me!) it was a REAL eye-opener. I think what most of us found seriously illuminating was how few new artists each commercial gallery takes on (eg...... one or none..... in years and years)... hmmmmmmm I think it made more than just a few of us go 'well what are we all here for then?!' (whilst the very self- assured I suspect were thinking 'yep that's me.... I'm the ONE!')

I had no such delusions

and no expectations whatsoever for the coming day - other than hope to learn even more about the inner machinations of the commercial art beast

NOW IT'S TODAY (oooh the power of bloggy time travel)

up early - wet drive back to Merimbula (this time to the far more attractive Merimbula Aquarium.... setting for the real speedy speed dating for artists

(this is just part of the view from the verandah.... 
now how on earth did the organisers think artists or gallery folk are going to concentrate with such a stunning setting!)

artists and gallery directors and the 'art police' were gathering

At 9.10am the first round of dating began. There were 12 galleries (6 local, 6 from afar) in attendance. Each artist was set to date 6 directors (3 local, 3 away galleries) in rapid succession (we had a total 5mins face-to-face time with each one.... and that is no time at all is it?!). The 'art police' (aka SEAR director Andrew Gray and cohort) made sure that time was STRICTLY adhered to..... a soft whistle was given at the 4min mark, and we were meant to then be wrapping up.... so that by the unrelenting whistle blast at 5min we should be standing up, ready to move on!

(never mess with the boys and girls in blue...)

I'm sure that aussie arty folk are simply DYING to know what galleries attended..... on the home team we had: Bega Valley Regional Gallery, Spiral Gallery, Narek, Ivy Hill, Bilyara and The Crossing (I got to meet with Narek, BVRG and Bilyara) And on the away team (wait for this....drum roll please): King Street Gallery, Barry Keldoulis Gallery, Rex Irwin Gallery, Iain Dawson Gallery all from Sydney, Beaver Gallery from Canberra and Anita Traverso Gallery from Melbourne (I met BKG, Anita Traverso and Beaver - all lovely peeps I must say)

After the formal 'date' time, there was a less formal opportunity for artists to meet and press the flesh with some of the directors they didn't get to met via dating

OK its late here at the creek - and I should wrap up this VERY long post - I'll give you my quick verdict (and hang off on the more philosophical one - where I question the whole commercial art scene - for another day) 

The whole thing was less nerve-wracking than I expected (there's no time to get nervous really..... before you know it, you've moved to the next person). I was intrigued by the various responses to my work (isn't it always interesting to see the same pieces of work garnering all the attention....), I had some nice suggestions of things to think about (all put into the smush of my brain.... who knows what will come of the advice) and had a GREAT time meeting arty folk who I have only known as names (and here I'm mostly talking about local artists). THAT was the highlight of things for me (oh but I've got to say - it was fascinating watching how some artists worked the room in the free time session..... oh boy some people are real GO-GETTERS! me - I mostly hung waaaaaay back and soaked up the scene... I sat and chatted with Tony from Northern Rivers.... which proved to be a VERY interesting talk indeedy)

did I find looooove?

well maybe ..... I loved the look of that wharf!

so I released one of my books to feel the moment....

(ps I also made some other work - but it's too late and I'm too tired... it will have to wait)


  1. Congrats for being selected for that, Ronnie, and well done for getting through! It sounds very arduous. I have seen an article about speed-dating for artists only recently and thought it sounded a) wildly exciting and b) bloody terrifying all at the same time. I'd love to give it a go but have little hope I'd get gallery representation as a result, and it's pretty two-edged, as you say: even if you DO find a gallery to represent you AND you can afford the associated costs, who is to say they'll actually do any real work to promote you? Hmmm. I look forward to your philosophical discourse on the subject later... Meanwhile, go to bed!!! Sara x

  2. Fantastic Ronnie! knew you'd breeze through it - sounds like an exhausting, enthralling, exciting, and interesting day...keeping everything crossed for you (impressive group of galleries there) xx

  3. Ronnie this is a fabulous and informative post and it has me very excited by the thought of the process. Great opportunity and great learning. Me I'd be the corner observer as well - never could work a room. Really looking forward to the philosophical discussion (I'm still on my phone in alice so will write properly once home) go well and thanks for all the kind comments! F


thanks for all your lovely comments - your words are greatly appreciated xx