Un/Learning Space is a newly initiated project by Open Space to support and mentor emerging art creatives. By both learning and unlearning, the workshops that will be available between April-September 2021 will aim to question the classical institutional teaching.
UN/LEARNING SPACE: The Unlearned Workshop with Guts Gallery & Jen O’Farrell
27th May 2021 (Thursday) , 6-8 pm
“Together, we want to support and promote artists predominantly excluded from the traditional art market and who we feel have something to say”. — Jen O’Farrell & Ellie Pennick
For this workshop Ellie Pennick, Director of Guts Gallery and Jen O’Farrell, artist and curator will discuss how to navigate setbacks and the current vital shift in the art world. The two art professionals, who also collaborate together, will focus on a structure of dialogue and action.
Ellie will discuss the general lack of funding, struggles in the current global pandemic and inequality within the arts, whilst Jen will discuss creating opportunities without institutional leverage and working as a self-taught artist/curator. Collectively they will discuss the benefits and challenges of curating online, new innovative ways to view, interact and collect art and their outlook for the future of a new art world.
The first part of the workshop will take the format of an interview, discussion between Ellie and Jen. The second part will take the format of a Q&A and advisory panel.
Note: While these workshops are free we do rely on donations in order to support our workshop leaders financially.
The traditional art business model reflects socio-political austerity. A system that disproportionately benefits people who do not experience racial oppression, gender or class discriminations. Acting as a platform and support system emerging artists are often denied, Guts works to challenge and revise this model, that leaves artists and staff undervalued and underpaid. In doing so, Guts exhibits established artists alongside emerging artists and facilitates genuine relationships between artists and collectors. Connecting artists who reflect their lived experiences in their work with those who are eager to support them.
Guts applies adaptive business practices to position itself at the forefront of the art world’s next generation of contemporary voices. It forgoes the burdensome overhead that accompanies a permanent location. Guts operates on a nomadic basis, leveraging communal trust and initiative to exhibit in technologically innovative ways, providing larger sales percentages to artists and living wages to staff. Guts flips the traditional power dynamics between gallerist and artist, creating safe spaces, accessibility, constructive dialogue and collective shouldering. In an art world scared to speak out about inequality for fear of jeopardizing their positions, Guts Gallery refuses to be silenced.
Director and Founder of Guts Gallery, Ellie Pennick is one of the youngest gallerists navigating the art world today. As a working-class, queer Northerner with no art background, Pennick’s footing in the art world came through her frustrations at the politics of the arts education system, and lack of opportunities available.
After receiving a place at a renowned institution in London, but unable to accept her place due to her financial status, Pennick began to question the wider, social austerity within the arts. Pennick launched Guts to generate a fair art-business model “worth far more importance to me than a piece of paper with a Masters grade on it”, and to champion emerging artists, helping artists to demand respect – and ownership – they deserve.
Jen O’Farrell is a self-taught curator born in Liverpool, UK. With a focus on outsider art practices, queer and poetical ideologies, Jen shapes her curation around these core values, as well as a desire to see more art by artists who aren’t afraid to disrupt or experiment.
Uniting the visual traditions of urban and street art with the naturalised imagery of rugged, desert terrains and personal memories, Jen works within the media of painting, sculpture, drawing and poetry, as part of a larger investigation of the natural world. In doing so, Jen seeks to represent the many altered states of being, merging earthly and bodily identities to reveal the surfaces, communications and temporality of our world.
Jen’s working-class upbringing, queer identity and non-traditional arts education, placing a primacy on “outsider” methodologies, figures heavily in her practice. Additionally, she uses art as an escape from her unrooted past and the realities of temporally dislocated labor – the experiences garnered in various locations, day and night, are central to her work. Dripping, staining, dyeing and overlaying colours to mirror the abstract and elemental indentations of weathering and vandalised marks on the environment provide both a means of release, and the opportunity for review and revelation.