Artwise – trailblazers channelling art for good
Working with the most sought after names in the international artworld, Artwise see themselves as collaborators, and curators with a small ‘c’, preferring to keep the spotlight on the artists and causes that they represent. Artwise, founded by Susie Allen and run with partner Laura Culpan, have galvanised the art community to highlight issues facing our planet; they have devised Art For Your World, a call to action for the cultural sector to say that climate change matters and we must act now. Christopher Farr are proud to have collaborated with Artwise for Tomorrow’s Tigers, raising funds for WWF UK’s work to save the wild tiger and protect their habitat.
Since 1996, they have curated works by over 350 artists, completed over 300 artist commissions, delivered art projects in 20 countries worldwide and generates over £4 million for charity projects.
For each of your projects, how do you go about choosing the artists?
At Artwise we don’t represent any artists, which means we can approach each project afresh and seek out the artists who we think will be interested in the concept and the cause and who are most relevant and appropriate for the project. We keep up to date with the international art market, follow art fairs, galleries, post graduate degree shows and often visit artists in their studios. It is important for us to know what is going on and who is doing what!
You’ve clocked up an impressive number of projects and clients. How have you seen your work develop across the years?
We try to challenge ourselves with each new project which means an organic development in our practice as well. Our track record is great and our reputation as professional curators and producers of art exhibitions means that we can grow in scale and ambition with each new project. We like to keep track of new developments in the art world whether its new technologies, or indeed spot new trends such as use of textile as a growing medium, so we try to keep ahead of the curve, introducing new artists to the scene and working with established artists in new and unique ways.
Can you tell us about Art for Your World, using your curatorial practice to help tackle the climate crisis?
AFYW was a major campaign that Artwise devised and implemented on behalf of WWF, in the run up to COP26 (in Glasgow). Our intention was to try and unite the art world in the fight against climate change. We did this in various ways allowing artists, galleries and institutions to join independently. For example we launched a campaign on instagram #ARTFORYOURWORLD where we invited galleries to post their green initiatives in solidarity and institutions such as Tate Modern, Guggenheim Bilbao and The Natural History Museum all lit their buildings green at the same time on the same day. We joined forces with Artist Support Pledge to allow a huge network of artists to align, sell and donate to the cause and we commissioned Jenny Holzer to do a major new climate change public projection work called HURT EARTH that travelled from Tate Modern, to Edinburgh Castle and on to the COP26 headquarters in Glasgow. We also raised significant money through commissioning artists to do limited edition prints and a donating specially commissioned works to an auction hosted by Sotheby’s. It was important to raise money, however it was more important that our sector became aware and could unite to try and amplify the messages.
AFYW has remained as a platform (website and instagram) for WWF to engage with contemporary art and Tomorrow’s Tigers was the feature project in 2022.
For any budding curators, what would be your best advice?
The role of the curator in contemporary art actually varies immensely depending on where you are working – whether it is with a gallery, a museum, private collection or freelance so it is hard to impart one piece of advice. At Artwise we curate but actually we also do a lot of production of projects and project management: we are very hands on and manage every aspect of our art projects. Every project we do is different so we are constantly learning and gaining new skills and knowledge, so we have to be nimble and creative and work well as a team.
To answer your question though, to someone starting out in curating, apart from studying the academic side of things, trying to get as much practical experience in the sector is so important. It is a saturated landscape and is very competitive so our advice would be to try and find a specialisation within the field where there is a possibility to become an expert, an authority and a voice in that particular area.
To find out more about Artwise and their services including strategy for art campaigns, curating and delivering contemporary exhibitions, or working with them to build or manage a private art collection, go to artwisecurators.com
And, see the latest from Art for Your World
Far right image: Tate Modern turned virtually green and posted on social media in support of Art For your World on the 5thNovember 2021. Courtesy Tate Modern. Image: Peter Landers