Saturday, March 03, 2007

Gallery Space Talk: Fraser Kee Scott- A Gallery

I'm starting a new interview series for the blog. The series is called 'Gallery Space Talk'. My plan is to interview staff members from various galleries about the gallery they represent. Hopefully these interviews will be an insightful read. My first interview is with Fraser Kee Scott- proprietor of A Gallery.

According to January's edition of the Notting Hill Independent A Gallery is 'The Number One Predictor of Future Art Stars in Britain'! A Gallery has been open for over nine years showing new works by rising stars in contemporary art. You can read about the many accomplishments of A Gallery and the artists that Fraser represents here:

A Gallery currently represents Mila Judge-Furstova, Thomas Ostenberg, Chris Parks, Dormice, Diarmuid Byron O' Connor... any many others.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life? Why did you decide to be a gallery owner?

A. "Well, probably when it gave me an excuse not to do homework! haha! You know, I did most of my art while learning all the propaganda in history class or instead of falling asleep in French. I would draw and draw and draw and get A's in art and sent out of the other classes! But, really, I always knew I was an artist and that was all I was, that was my spirit and I knew I would be an artist. But funnily I became a gallery owner, and it is only recently through song writing I have become an artist again!"

(Mr. Scott protesting outside the Tate with The Stuckists and Peter Murphy and Emily Strange.)

Q. What kind of message do you want the art you exhibit at A Gallery to have?

A. "I want to show art that lifts society. I want to show art that lifts people spirits, that helps them to see deeper meaning in life and to question things and be happier. Society is in a lot of trouble. There is mass war, terrible illiteracy rates, people are being put on dangerous psychiatric drugs and American kids are now been screened for disorders and then put on drugs which mentally cripple them. There is lots of trouble. So I want to use art to reverse that. Art is hugely powerful, it can change the world, for better or worse, and I choose better. We have a choice, we can take the degraded easy route of cheap kicks and following the crowd down the path of worsening conditions in society, or we can use art to point out the basic good nature of man and to lift him by providing beauty."

(Isabella Blow, Fashion Editor of Tatler giving Mr. Scott 52 pence for the Stuckist joke fund.)

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "Art is the creation of dreams without which society could not survive. Imagine rush hour traffic day after day with no radio, looooonnnng train rides with no books, no movies on the weekend, etc. etc... no relief from stress, people would go mad and the world would not last. Art is the injection of life into society. I can't say it better than L Ron Hubbard, from his book 'Art, where he said:

"We instinctively revere the great artist, painter or musician and society as a whole looks upon them as not quite ordinary beings.

"And they are not. They are a cut above man... He who can truly communicate to others is a higher being who builds new worlds.""

(Mr. Scott loves how art can make people feel.)

Q. Have the artists you represent been published?

A. "Well, for example, two of A Gallery's' artists, the collaboration team DORMICE, have a 4 page feature in i-D magazines' next issue which I got them. And we recently got Mila Judge Furstova's work on the front cover of the biggest print magazine in the UK. Actually we do pretty good getting our artists published."

Q. What was the most important exhibition you've been involved with? Care to share that experience?

A. "Mila Judge Furstova's Czech Embassy show in Notting Hill in 2004 was great. There were hundreds of people lining up to buy her work and as always, her work was simply stunning. But also the recent Romantic View was good as we sold a lot of Thomas Ostenbergs' work, which is really becoming very very collectable, top American museum bosses are starting to collect his work, and you know when that happens his prices are about to go through the roof!"

(Mr. Scott selling art to Howard at the Czech Embassy.)

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who buy art from A Gallery, what would they be?

A. "People who buy art from A Gallery are clever and have great taste! haha! We have an exceptional record of picking future art stars and so many of our clients have done really really well with us which is always very pleasing, but also many of the collectors here have become my friends and I have good relationships with them, which is very pleasing. Actually collectors are so important, and rare. If you think of the percent of people who buy art, it is so low, probably 0.001% of the population. I admire the people who buy art from A Gallery because they have the confidence to know what they like and to go with it."

(Private View of 'The Romantic View' with sculpture by Beth Cater and paintings by Giuseppi Belli)

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist and gallery owner? A. "No, I don't have a degree, I started the gallery on my 19th birthday. I do not intend to go to art school either. Actually art school can be quite destructive to artists these days, many are very discouraged from painting. One of our best painters had to fight daily to stay painting instead of doing the 'cool' thing and making collapsible tents that 'obviously signify universal belly button fluff man!' I mean, if you go to one of the best art schools in the world, The Royal College of Art and take an MA in photography, you have to do hours and hours of learning about psychotherapy, thats enough to send anyone mad! And what has it got to do with art? Nothing! So at present its a pretty tough environment for anyone who wants to be a painter or a sculptor and actually I find it is the smaller independent schools where you have any hope in hell of coming out with any integrity."

(A Gallery's back room with art by Beth Carter and Graham Milton)

Q. Do you have a website for your gallery?

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "Well, there are trends in the artworld that the public as a whole are presented and there are the real trends in the artworld. Basically the world media is completely insane! The media likes to tell as much bad news as it can. One of the main reasons for this is that bad news sells. People are basically good so if they see something bad they feel bad if they don't look so they can see if they can help or so they can sympathise at least, and the media knows this, they know that when a huge disaster happens they sell the most news papers, so they concentrate on bad news.
Also the main media networks are quite suppressive in other ways and tend to be quite destructive to society as a whole. So they give art a very bad name. The papers love to talk about art in terms of the mad artists and their crazy ideas that don't mean anything to anyone. The papers love to portray Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin and all their stupid ideas and the whole time what they are doing is alienating the public from art, which actually the public needs, just the same as they need food.

You know, you survey people on the street about what they think about art and the main answer you will get is 'Oh, what a load of rubbish, a pickled shark, a pile of old bricks, I could do better!' and they are right! But the truth is there are millions of dedicated honest artists who daily are doing better, much better, creating beautiful work of integrity that people would love, but which is hidden from them by the 'Art of the day' which actually is not the art of the day at all but a smokescreen."

(The end of the private view for 'The Romantic View')

Q. Any tips for emerging artists or artists who would like to exhibit at A Gallery?

A. "See my Top Ten Tips to Sell Your Art in my blog at: "

Q. Have the artists you represent ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "Yes, it was the best publicity we EVER had. BBC news no less! This is how to deal with it!:

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as a gallery owner?

A. "Toughest point was after we made an error and so sales were low for months. But then, you just persist, admit your error, put it right and you come back stronger than ever. That's how to do it, never give up!"

(A recent newspaper article)

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "London's' art scene is HUGE. It is the second most important art market in the world after New York. More artists graduate in art than in science. There is art all over the place and artists all over the place. Thanks God for that and long may it continue and increase! The more art the world has the better it survives."

Q. What do you think about artists who focus on politics?

A. "I am not against the use of art for political means. I love what Bono is doing. Look at what the artists did in Vietnam. Artists have such a huge and powerful voice. It can be used to give out degraded messages like the recent No.1 by Akorn in America or the recent disgusting show of orgies at Larry Gagosian's New York gallery, or it can be used for better purposes like a movie such as 'In Pursuit of Happyness' with Will Smith etc. etc. So, well, what is politics? It is the running of a group of people, so God yes, please lets use art to create positive change!"

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "In my personal art I am constantly inspired by Scientology, it is impossible not to be, as it is SO helpful and interesting, like as I have been writing this I have also been finishing off a song I wrote with a guy who wrote Charlotte Church's 'Brave New World' - a No.3 hit in the UK and the song was inspired by a quote from L Ron Hubbard which basically says that on the day we can fully trust each other there will be peace on earth. As for in the gallery, yes, I am always inspired by Scientology. Basically L Ron Hubbard knew the importance of artists to society and he pointed out how art has the power to lift moods and change the world and I strive to achieve this goal, a new renaissance!"

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about A Gallery or the 'art world'?

A. "Well, I would just like to say that people who buy art are actually doing something much more important than they may realise. Supporting artists is hugely important. It creates a culture that has independent thought, and the creativity that the buyer is supporting seeps though into the society as a whole and has a positive effect. So while I have talked much about the importance of the artist, I would just like to say that in Britain we are lucky because so many people support the arts and it is growing all the time and those people do a great service in their investment to all of our futures."

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Fraser Kee Scott about A Gallery. Check out the gallery!

Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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