This article was first published in print in Sluice Magazine and then on their website in 2017. I've decided to publish it on my website because I hope its content still resonates in 2018. It addresses issues of instrumentalism in the arts, artwashing, living creatively and cultural democracy. As I wrote in 2017, I believe "it is still possible to conceive of art as part of living creatively, as part of everyday life, as local cultural democracy, as artistic autonomy." It's time to talk about how...Read More
I was kindly asked to talk alongside Labour MP Laura Pidcock, Jessie Jo Jacobs (Policy and Campaigns Officer, Northern TUC) and Ramona McCartney (National Officer for the People's Assembly) at the People's Assembly event, "In Place of Austerity", in Newcastle on 20th January 2018. It was an incredibly inspiring day! This is the transcript for my talk...Read More
Plans to redevelop Elephant and Castle shopping centre and the surrounding area by tax-avoiding, Tory-supporting property developer Delancey and London College of Communication/University of the Arts London where rejected (subject to confirmation on 30th January 2018) by Southwark Council’s planning committee. It is understandable that arch-capitalists Delancey (owned by the notorious father and son property development partnership, the Ritblats) aren’t interested in local people and local communities, but what’s with LCC/UAL? Why would a top arts and design institution behave so aggressively to existing community members? The connections between the Ritblats and the Vice Chancellor of UAL are interesting. They reveal how the corporate takeover of high education and the arts are intersecting with the corporate takeover of our communities and our land.Read More
This is a video recording of my lecture entitled Rethinking the role of artists in regeneration contexts. It was recorded at Northumbria University on 24th November 2017. Includes a short Q&A at the end.Read More
I was invited to lecture at Winchester School of Art on 3rd November 2017 as part of their Talking Heads series. This is a transcript of my lecture along with a link to my lecture slides (with notes) and a link to an edited recording of my discussion with Nick Stewart afterwards. The lecture covers a broad range of topics from my research including creative cities and the creative class, social capital, placemaking, artwashing, art and gentrification, anti-gentrification art, anti-art activism, the radical avant-garde, and examples of artists engaging with regeneration that do not result in artwashing or gentrification. It's quite long but perhaps gives an overall illustration of my work and a taste of my PhD thesis, Artwashing: The Art of Regeneration, Social Capital and Anti-Gentrification Activism.Read More
This is a transcript of my paper I presented at the Edge | Situated Practice conference at Here East on Saturday 7th October 2017. The conference was organised by the UCL Urban Laboratory and the Folkestone Triennial, with additional support from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Slade School of Fine Art. There's a link to my PowerPoint presentation too. It was a really interesting conference and I think my paper provoked some challenging debate.Read More
This is a response to Anna Francis’s article entitled ‘Artwashing’ gentrification is a problem – but vilifying the artists involved is not the answer. It includes comments from myself, Emily Jost, Rab Harling and Ewan Allinson.Read More
I received this letter from Richard Parry as a comment to my blog post entitled SHHH, BE QUIET! (Reflective prose about library closures, Arts Council England & middle-class asset stripping.) Richard has been researching the arts organisation V22 for some time (as have I). His letter which he has agreed to publish as a blog post here instead of a comment is the result of his research and relates to a number of Freedom of Information requests he has made to Arts Council England.Read More
This is my paper which I presented at the Northumbria-Sunderland AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training Art and Design Research Annual Conference at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead on 25th July 2017. Powerpoint and PDF versions can be downloaded here too...Read More
I did a talk at Diffusion 'Revolution' Festival Symposium at Cardiff University today. I've uploaded my presentation with notes here. Click the link below to read it and remember to turn notes on in bottom right hand corner of presentation when it loads... The talk is called Artwashing: From Mining Capital to Harvesting Social Capital.Read More
The first post in this series, Artwashing London, explored V22 and its alter-ego V220 in a little detail, linking its group of companies to its headquarters in the Isle of Man. It asked why would an arts organisation apparently interested in social impact want to register its activities in a tax haven?
This second post looks in more detail at some more of V22’s connections and compares its stated aims to its other directly or indirectly linked corporate interests. This is a trail from London to the Isle of Man to Africa and back again. I do not suggest that anything illegal has happened but there are several ethical questions that, in my opinion, should be answered.Read More
I recently wrote a blog post about Artwashing London. It looked at V22 and its connections to corporate interests and offshore company headquarters. I will write another shortly and more about different cases I think could be classed as artwashing after that.
It is important that I explain my rationale. This is not a conspiracy. This is global capitalism underpinned by neoliberal ideology. Nothing illegal but perhaps unethical?Read More
London is awash with ‘artist-led’ initiatives that use ‘meanwhile’ spaces as temporary galleries, studios and all the usual stuff. There are many bigger companies doing this too. Nothing new here. Sometimes, like in the case of Bow Arts and Balfron Tower, for example, they are rightly called out for artwashing. There are many more cases of artwashing now than ever before. More and more people are getting interested in its cynical misrepresentation of arts and culture as a ‘community good’ when really art is used as a front for big businesses, national and local government ‘regeneration’, property investors and a whole host of other people wanting to make a profit from, what is for many people, social cleansing. Even artists are getting in on the artwashing act.
But why would any arts organisation want to set up its primary base in a tax haven - particularly one who claim to be all about supporting local people and local economies? And, why would Arts Council England and the Mayor of London (amongst others) be happy giving funds to a company that’s ultimately based in the Isle of Man?
This is the tale of one such case – V22, an ‘artists-led’ and, indeed, ‘artists owned’ arts organisation with a few different incarnations. It’s a bit complex, but that seems to be how they like it. It is one part of a mammoth case of interrelated artwashing that’s going on in London right now.Read More
This is a reblog (with additions) of a post that was originally posted anonymously on LSE Sociology blog. I must explain a few things. I wasn't comfortable being anonymous because, as a fellow activist said, anonymity is the greatest dispossession. So here it is on my own site. I stand by my work but must explain that my issue is not with the ESRC research nor with anyone involved in the forthcoming research project. I am only interested in exploring The Idea - Platform-7 and what I consider to be an example of artwashing. It is also important to note that this work is personal and not connected to anything else I am involved with professionally. I consider this part of my ongoing activist work: an intervention; a performance; research as practice (praxis); art (or perhaps anti-art). It is an act of resistance and a critique. If this is problematic, I'm happy to explain more.Read More