Jerwoodite or not?

October 29, 2008 - 16 Responses

Disclaimer: Any comments stated here which are not correct are due to the misinformation I have received and is a symptom of this. Since there is little to no information about Jerwood, I’m absolved of responsibility.

(Note: Hover the mouse over the pics for captions, if needed)

Who am I?

A typical bloke, wife, three kids (4, 9, 11) and live/strive in Hastings. Born in the old and long forgotten Buchanan Hospital in St. Leonards on Sea nearly 40 years ago, my kids attend their local state school, I work in various places in and around the town as a sole trader in the digital media sector and we all work hard to do the best we can as a family.

What is Jerwood?

An art gallery. The Jerwood Foundation is a charity which is responsible for over £100million worth of art, some of which is to be shown in the new Hastings Jerwood gallery should it materialise.

What’s all the kerfuffle about?

Whether having a Jerwood Art Gallery in Hastings will actually be of benefit to Hastings as a town, the people of Hastings in general and both the business and art community (note the separation) surrounding the proposed development.

The artists perspective:

Of course it’s important, it’s vital to the regeneration of Hastings. It will enrich all our lives with culture, children will learn more about creativity and visual art and it will attract many hundreds of high-spending tourists who will shower the surrounding businesses with cash. We’ll also be able to put our own works in the gallery as it’s part of a community project (citation needed) as well as an internationally recognised gallery. It will inspire us to produce great works too.

The business perspective:

The art gallery proposal is welcome as it attracts more people into the town, particularly high(er) spenders who will need to traverse the retail areas to get to the road and rail links. The direct beneficiaries will be the shops and services which support the tourism sector. It’s the towns biggest industry so this is a good thing.

Removing the coach park which can bring hundreds of people in big swoops isn’t a good thing though. The town is stitched up ‘parking-wise’ as it is and relocation will prove difficult if not impossible.

There’s also the debate about the target market demographic. If ‘high-society’ art connoisseur types with London salaries come to Hastings to visit Jerwood, are they going to get their chips from the Dolphin then nip in the Nelson for a couple of pints and a piss?

The ‘typical bloke’ perspective:

It costs money to get in so that’s me and the kids out. Maybe there’s some concession for locals, but it still costs so that’s me out. They prefer to go to swimming and karate anyway, not that we can really afford that either. In order to spend money I need to earn money and this new gallery doesn’t serve me financially in any way. I’m not cultured, I’m not creative and the only pictures on my walls are of the kids and the dog.

OK, so it doesn’t do anything for me, that doesn’t mean I oppose it, but from posts in various discussion groups (<cough>HCMC</cough>), it does. It appears you’re either ‘for’ Jerwood, or ‘against’ it.

Given that I ‘have’ to fall into one camp or another I’d say I’m ‘for’ it, purely because more money is being invested in Hastings and while aimless money spending serves little purpose, it does reverberate throughout the community and give everyone a feel-good factor.

When SeaSpace developed all these new office space buildings, technically, there was no, 0, zero demand to fill the space, not what’s happening though is it?. As far as I know, capacity is brimming. With investment comes ambition and this is the sole reason I’m ‘for’ Jerwood in Hastings.

If someone says to me, “poxy artists getting a gallery, where’s the money in that?”, I’ll find it hard to answer with a positive. After all, most artists I know are skint and rely on benefits, state grants and/or funding for social projects to cling to, others are part-time something else because visual art just doesn’t contribute to the economy on a local scale. Bohemian in every sense of the word. If I am to aspire to the typical working class family man which I simplistically believe to be ‘me, wife, kids, dog, estate car, a seaside holiday each year and a mortgage on a 3 bed terrace’, I need more than art to sustain me.

A major issue with this new gallery is the lack of information. This forces people to fill in the gaps and already I’ve heard people say, ‘fucking artists give nothing and get everything’. Well, I’m not so sure this is completely true but if the art community is serious about this then they want to be a little less self-serving in their opinions of people who oppose and perhaps give constructive opinion on how ‘Joe six-pack and his kids’ benefit instead. After all, it’s ‘Joe six-pack’ who works his arse off, shoves his taxes into the coffers which ultimately gets spent on art projects such as these, with little to nothing in direct return.

Since ‘Joe six-pack’ represents 40% of the Hastings community in that we’re economically positive to the town, our feelings matter. The other 60% who are remunerated via public sector, charity, grants, funding or other central Government funded projects do have a voice, but please do remember who’s paying for this and have a little more respect for their opinions.

A bloody Tesco Express in the Stade would generate more jobs and bring more people to the Old Town.

Typical Pro-Jerwood Quotes:

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** Quotes removed as requested by those whom authored them **

In response:

I have been asked by the HCMC author to respect the privacy of members statements.

Everyone bangs on about open debate but when it really comes down to it, they want to hide behind closed doors. If they had any sort of conviction for their words, they’d stand by them, private list or not.

I have removed them, but here’s the caveat: If you’ve got something to say of point, SAY IT. Don’t double back because in hindsight it was a childish remark or had no value; that’s your problem. Else, zip it.

I’m fed up with the double standards of people, including the vocal minority on the HCMC list too. I’m ‘for’ Jerwood, my blog says as much, however I’m against, name-calling, snide-remarks, elitism and hypocrisy. I stopped that when I was 12. When will you?

Publishing these quotes fairly reflected the information I received and was not cherry-picked to make the pro-Jerwood crowd look elitist, they were cherry-picked to make the authors look childish.

If there’s a fundamental lack of respect when discussing the pros and cons of Jerwood then it’s a discussion not worth having. I am very disappointed in the opinions of seemingly intelligent people and since these remarks were made, respect was duly altered.

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This doesn’t help the business case for Jerwood and is actually a symptom of the lack of information the Council, the Jerwood and the Art community are providing. To most people I ask about it, it’s a poncy place for ponces to ponce about in, and it’s going to cost a few million at our expense too. Again, when there’s no information, people are filling in the gaps.

With a looming recession, now more than ever, people are more interested in economy than culture, it’s a fact so get used to it. My problem with this is it seems the Jerwood gallery is an ‘art community’ offering when actually it’s a ‘Hastings’ offering so why the surprise when it doesn’t actually do a lot of good for an awful lot of people? As workers, due to the recession, we’re all heading towards the bread-line, as artists, most are already on the bread-line. With people financially going in different directions, it’s no wonder there’s polarised opinion.

Bring Jerwood to Hastings, but for gods sake, justify it, PLEASE.
(Or can’t you?)

– Thadius Harding