The artist and activist Margaret Harrison has announced her support for a-n/AIR’s Paying Artists campaign. She joins a growing list of high-profile artists, including Jeremy Deller and Yinka Shonibare MBE, who are supporting the campaign.
Harrison, who first came to prominence in the 1970s, was the winner of the 2013 Northern Art Prize. In 1970, she co-founded the London Women’s Liberation Art Group. She was also part of the Women’s Artists Group of the Artists Union, formed in 1972. She has exhibited internationally including at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and Tate Modern.
In her statement of support, Harrison said: “Art should not be the exclusive venture of the privileged elite. That is why I support the Paying Artists campaign.
“The increasing reliance on the art market means the squeezed middle and bottom of the pile, the mostly – but not exclusively – young artists, face an almost impossible struggle to generate, invent and produce vital and interesting art work, while a small number of art stars suck in all the spare cash as their prices are enamoured by an eager world market for often quite indifferent work.
“This situation doesn’t foster experimentation and leaps of the imagination but rather is designed to maintain the status quo of investment.
“The first item to be dropped from public exhibition programmes is artists’ fees, often on the grounds that the artist is being ‘offered showing space free of charge’. Inevitably, that means favouring artists from upper income families.
“It is not to say these privileged young people aren’t capable of producing good work, it is just that it sits in a bubble isolated from the rest of us and serves only their own income group.”
Image: Margaret Harrison, Common Reflections, Northern Art Prize 2013. Photo: Simon Warner