Travelling exhibitions of Dutch art have been hugely successful since the turn of the millennium, with an international following. As the exhibitions have developed and diversified, so has the methodology of their promotion. The exhibition catalogue and website are now much more interactive, incorporating the most up-to-date information and promotional tools and media.
This new thinking about travelling and exhibitions is apparent at the very beginning of this ongoing series, with a critical look at the role that travelling makes in an artist’s life and practice. (parts I & II) Travelling between destinations are the focus of this first article, exploring the reasons why American and Canadian travelling exhibitions have been successful, while European travelling exhibits have struggled. The essay concludes by considering the future of travelling exhibitions, considering travelling in America or Canada as a way of enriching art-making. A review of the Travelling Exhibitions Series reveals many common themes related to art-making, ranging from travelling to show locations to the marketing of art to the audience and beyond. I look at Travelling as part of my larger efforts to help artist engage communities, as well as the broader social aspects of culture, community building, education and awareness.
As a practicing artist, I believe that Travelling can be a powerful experience. One of my most fundamental beliefs is that, like walking through a new city or country, meeting new people and taking in the culture creates new opportunities and possibilities for creativity. There is a saying, “if you follow a new trail that leads straight to your heart, you’ll see the beauty of what you’ve been missing”. This is particularly true for artists working in the visual arts, such as painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, collage, performance art and film-making. By taking the time to develop a strong network of support, whether it be family, friends, local community agencies and organisations, art-makers have the ability to develop a new venue for their work and meet new people.
The Travelling exhibition series is an innovative way of allowing participants the chance to travel and experience art in its purest form – i.e. without all the hassles. With a simple website, participants register online, select a destination and then choose a participating artist to travel with. They pay a minimal entry fee to take advantage of this unique opportunity, which allows them to participate in one-on-one consultations, view and receive art samples and participate in photo shoots. Each artist offers a different level of service, with booking and transport arrangements usually being taken care of on behalf of the artist. The experience is exciting, varied and free-flowing, perfect for those just starting out, or those who are taking their first steps in traveling as an artist.
It’s also great for supporting a good cause. For instance, you can help fund a wonderful campaign for a child who is going to need international schooling. The campaign is called PERSEVERE and the mission statement says: “We believe that everyone has the power to shape his or her future… that no one should live in ignorance… and that every person has a right to know his or her birth date… his or her nationality… his or her heritage… his or her religion…” In addition to helping arrange travel and accommodation for the children, the campaign benefits local schools and teachers, by allowing them to promote literacy in developing countries through a reading drive and by producing quality books, reports and artwork featuring children from these countries. Travelling as an artist gives you the opportunity to give back.
So what do you say about British English vs. American English (or Australian English vs. British English)? Which is better, OO or EE? The solution may surprise you. In my opinion, while both variants of the spelling are common, the British English version is – thankfully – becoming less popular, especially in the United States.