Saturday, July 30, 2016

National Trust: second open call for artisans and craft makers

Did you know that the retail arm of the National Trust collaborates with craftspeople and artisans to produce artisan products?
The National Trust and The Heritage Crafts Association and the Craft Council are excited to announce our second open call for artisans and craft makers.
They have just announced their second open call for people to develop a range of products inspired by places looked after by the National Trust and sold via the National Trust shops and websites.  The deadline for applications is 4pm on Monday 29th August, 2016.

It occurs to me that there are more than a few people who follow this blog who could probably deliver what they want.  Obviously those who work in ceramics but also those who create art and products based on natural history, wildlife and botanical subjects.

The National Trust also commissions people to produce work for them.

For information: 

  • This is a video about Mary Kaun-English who produces Pit-fire Ceramics and who won the last call. Despite her name she is actually a Californian by birth. You can see her NT artisan ceramics on their site.



  • This is a page of stoneware birds made by Elissa Palser
  • The NT also commissions people to make things for them - for example from trees which have fallen on estates. Last summer, the National Trust commissioned London based wood artist Eleanor Lakelin to create a collection of beautiful vessels crafted from a cedar tree that had been planted by the Duke of Wellington in 1827 - which led to this page. You can also see her work on Instagram.
Wood art by Eleanor Lakelin
I must confess I'm a bit of a wood nut and the thing I'm most likely to be drawn to are pieces made of wood. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

BP Sponsorship of the Arts - latest developments

Back in January this year I wrote about how Tate's BP funding figures revealed - less than expected.

The Guardian announced this morning that an Information Tribunal has now ordered the Tate to release more information. (see The Guardian | Tate Britain ordered to reveal how much BP paid for sponsorship)
This week, an information tribunal ordered that Tate must also disclose figures from 2007 to 2011 within 35 days. In a statement Tate said: “Tate has been notified of the tribunal’s decision, which we shall follow. We will respond within the time frame.”
The Guardian | Tate Britain ordered to reveal how much BP paid for sponsorship
I've not yet found the decision notice for this - it's certainly NOT on the Information Commissioner's website (as I write).

This is a summary of the hearing back in May when the Tribunal heard representations from all parties regarding the withholding of information by the Tate.

This 'decision' comes on top of



One might conclude - given the drop in profits - that arts companies could easily have been looking at a really big "black hole" in their finances had the change in BP's financial fortunes led to non-renewal of the sponsorship.

It's one thing to say BP is not the right sponsor for the arts. However it's quite another to make sure arts organisations are adequately funded in appropriate ways!

It's naive for protesters to think that any commercial sponsor will provide funding unless there is some sort of benefit for their product or brand. 

It is however entirely legitimate to ask how the relationship between the sponsor and  the sponsored organisation is managed - and whether this complies with all relevant legislation and conduct codes.


Protest at BP sponsorship of the arts


The Art Not Oil Coalition - who are part of the part of the international movement for #FossilFreeCulture - has been damning BP for a long time. It published a report in May 2016 - see BP’s cultural sponsorship: A corrupting influence.

Report by the Art not Oil Coalition (published May 2016)

This drew on information gleaned from a lot of emails released under the Freedom of Information Act.  I do wonder if all the staff at museums and art galleries got the training that government staff got when the Act Act came into force. I think maybe some of the HR people in museums and art galleries might like to think about some "refresher training".

An awful lot of the report relates to issues around the security response to their activities and asks questions like
Ethical questions raised Why are security personnel at publicly-funded cultural institutions discussing shared anti-protest measures with a corporate sponsor and oil company? In whose interests do security personnel act when responding to legitimate protest?
Given the tendency of protestors to hurl around oil and gain entrance to museums before they start their protest, I personally would have thought the answer to that question was self-evident.

In addition, large iconic buildings tend to be targeted by those wanting to cause mischief and  terror - and if a corporate sponsor wants to offer support in relation to security, I'm not sure why management would see fit to turn it away. After all, not all philanthropic support needs to be by way of funding.

Part 2 of the Report relates to BP-sponsored curators and directors (pages 16-19) and is more interesting. It includes comment on the on the extent to which BP influences the work of the Museums and raises some legitimate questions within the context of the The International Council of Museums: Code of Ethics, Article 1.1 which states
‘Regardless of funding source, museums should maintain control of the content and integrity of their programmes, exhibitions and activities.’
Interestingly the BP Portrait Award is the only competition I can think of where a representative of BP sits on the selection panel for the competition. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Imagine Georgia O'Keeffe on television

The latest episode in the current series of Imagine on BBC1 is a programme about Georgia O'Keeffe: By Myself. It's timed to coincide with the major exhibition of her work at Tate Modern - Georgia O'Keeffe.

I'm guessing as an artist she doesn't need much of an introduction to the people who read this blog (see Georgia O'Keeffe at Tate Modern - a review of the exhibition reviews which reference the many blog posts I've written about her)

This is how the BBC introduces her
On the brink of the Depression in 1929, Georgia O'Keeffe - America's first great modernist painter - headed west. In the bright light of the New Mexico desert, she forged an independent life and found the solitude she needed for her truly original art.

The photographs taken of her by her older lover scandalised the public. Her flower forms were seen as a shocking and vibrant display of femininity, her bones and skulls as surreal and disturbing. Now, 30 years after her death, to coincide with a major Tate Modern show, imagine... tells the story of Georgia O'Keeffe, one of the most inspiring artists ever.
It adds
Imagine tells her story, through film of her charting her own progress through life, through her outspoken letters, especially the many thousands to and from Alfred Stieglitz, through his photographs, her paintings, and interviews with her surviving relations and artists who have fallen under her influence.

We visit the farm where she was born, the New York college where she studied back in 1906, the skyscraper hotel where she lived with Stieglitz, Lake George where she often felt suffocated but did much of her most beautiful work and the legendary landscapes of New Mexico, with her two extraordinary houses there. We find an inspiring, honest and witty woman, and a truly original artist.
The film is fronted by Alan Yentob - who meets her biographer, surviving relatives, friends and acquaintances - and was produced and directed by Jill Nicholls.

You can view it on iPlayer for the next 29 days.

Alan Yentob with the famous
Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 - painted by Georgia O'Keeffe in 1932

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Plagiarism: Major corporates vs Indie Artists

I've spotted another case of what appears to be gross plagiarism of work by an indie artist.

This one has now made it to Bored Panda - see Zara Accused Of Stealing Designs From Independent Artists, And Here’s The Evidence so it'll be viral in no time at all (13k views in 22 hours!)
  • Do please share with any illustrators and designers you know who post their work online. 
  • They might also like to check out the Zara website for work which shares an amazing similarity to their own.
Below is the image featuring on the shoparttheft.com website page which highlights the various concerns. It invites designers to go to shoparttheft.tumblr.com to submit comparison photos and links so independent artists can be supported.
Image created to demonstrate the nature of alleged plagiarism
Once is a mistake. This many times is inexcusable. Global fashion retailer Zara appears to have stolen dozens of artworks from over 20 independent illustrators, designers, and brands including Tuesday Bassen (whose particularly awful case has gone viral) and Adam J. Kurtz (that's me). Help us hold the company accountable to directly address this glaring intellectual property infringement and fairly compensate these artists.Shoparttheft.com


The big mistake Zara made was implying that they are so big and have so many visitors that they can ignore a few complaints
The thing they forget is that

  • there are an awful lot of indie artists who have an awful lot of indie artists friends 
  • the internet is awfully good for highlighting matters of concern to indie artists around plagiarism 
.....and I'm pleased to highlight their concerns!


Who are these designers?

  • Tuesday Bassen is an award-winning Illustrator and the force behind Shop Tuesday. She creates designs for pins and patches, clothing and home goods. She lives in Los Angeles. Clients include The New Yorker.
  • Adam J. Kurtz is a Brooklyn-based artist and author whose first book, 1 Page at a Time: A Daily Creative Companion has been translated into fifteen languages. He says his design and illustration is rooted in honesty, humor and a little darkness.

More examples of plagiarism highlighted on this blog


Long time readers of this blog will recall I like to highlight blatant examples of plagiarism. Past cases and posts include the following

Luc Tuymans - the famous Belgian painter


The prominent Belgian painter Luc Tuymans was found guilty of plagiarism by a Belgian Court in 2015.

Plagiarise at your peril - the Luc Tuymans case (Jan 25, 2015) examines:
  • the facts and reporting of the case
  • the copying of photographs by artists; and 
  • the use of 'parody' as an exception from the law on copyright in the European Union
  • the importance of country in relation to copyright
  • a key issue relating to freedom of expression and appropriation art
There are a number of examples of major artists thinking that the law on copyright does not apply to them. Tuymans is just one of them.

This post earlier in 2016 highlights Copyright infringement - recent lawsuits involving artists which includes
  • Litigant Mitchel Gray vs Jeff Koons
  • Litigant Donald Graham vs Richard Prince and the Gagosian Gallery
  • Litigant Ally Burguieres vs Taylor Swift
  • Litigant: The FBI (re. Kungfu Panda and Dreamworks) vs Jayme Gordon
  • PLUS Associations of lawyers specialising in intellectual property
This week I came across a different approach to copyright infringement on an artist's website. The message on the website didn't look to dissimilar to those you see on many websites with respect to who to contact if you want to reproduce the art. What was different was that the link went straight to a firm of lawyers in the USA who specialised in copyright and trademark infringement. Suddenly one knew that this particular artist meant business - in the literal sense.

The American Watercolour Society Controversy


One that should be read by all art societies and organisers of art competitions awarding prizes to hyper-realistic paintings!

The posts included:
I think it's a very great shame that Mark E Mehaffey AWS doesn't get to include AWS 'Gold Medal Winner' in his resume.

Is copyright infringement always clear cut? Lisa Congdon vs Cody Foster and various photographers


Are stories of copyright infringement as clear cut as they appear? This episode had two stages.

Plagiarism online - more posts

Plagiarism comes up on a regular basis on this blog. Here are some key posts I've written.
  • Plagiarism or 'passing off' - it's got to stop - this is a very long post which relates essentially to principles relating to plagiarism and derivatives. The post has been revised since first published for the reasons stated in the introduction to the revised post. The original post - and the revised version - were prompted by the daily painting movement and "Duane Derivatives". This post got a lot of visitors and an awful lot of comments. It includes definitions of both plagiarism and derivative art.It invites readers to have a discussion - with an educational intent - about what is and is not OK in relation to copying, plagiarism, imitation and derivative art.
  • Make your own art! - This followed on from the above. It focuses on why original art is best and why every artist has it in them to be a complete original. 
  • If you don't want your artwork stolen..... - Artists can learn a lot about how to handle copyright issues from photographers.
  • Plagiarism on Facebook - This is about people who claim other people's artwork as their own - and highlights a case study of an example on Facebook. This is not uncommon. It's an issue which every Moderator of a Facebook Group needs to be aware of - and MUST take prompt action when it is highlighted with proof.  This post focuses on:
    • Why do people copy other people's images?
    • How can you tell if somebody is copying?
    • What should you do if you see somebody copying?

More about Copyright for Artists


I recently had an article published in the June edition of The Artist magazine in the UK about How to protect your art online.

Extract from my Article about How to protect your art online

I don't profess to be an expert however I have been following cases and looking for expert information and advice online for the last decade or so.

My website Art Business Info. for Artists has a section all about Copyright for Artists which provides a reference of information available online about copyright, trademarks and brands for artists. Specifically:
Other blogs posts include

Copyright & Pinterest


Plus a major initiative on my part when Pinterest created the functionality for blatant copyright infringements

Monday, July 25, 2016

Top Tips for the Travelling Artist

It's summer and artists are travelling with their art media - after they've had a good long hard think about what to take and how to pack it. Then - very often - they have another think!

Facebook is awash at present with photos of the complete sketching kits - prior to packing - being taken by urban sketchers to Manchester for the 2016 International Symposium of Urban Sketchers

I thought I'd remind people of two posts I've published on this blog in 2011

Charvin Oil Paints photographed in Green and Stone on the Kings Road Chelsea.

I did mean to do two more posts about top tips about travelling with watercolours and coloured pencils - and must get round to finishing this short series five years later!

Do you have any top tips for travelling with art media?

Revisiting top posts


I was away last week and am planning on having a quiet week (drawing) this week so may well revisit more blog posts of merit from the past in the near future
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