Apart from the title Semi Formal Discussion Network which sounds all a bit too dry, matter-of-fact (maybe too formal…) for my liking, this little pamphlet formulated by R J Hinrichsen and Mark Wilsher in its essence, what it is setting out to create in the way of ‘artists talking about art, credibly and meaningfully with other artists’ along with its simplicity in its instructions of ‘how to do so’, sounds like a great idea! The web-link doesn’t seem to work but don’t let that stop you!
One of my reasons for joining Prospectus was to develop more ways in which artists where I live, my networks, can develop, talk/learn/discuss art and even when I first graduated from my degree this was exactly the sort of activity (peer-led discussion) that I missed the most and also the one I was the most fearful at growing stagnant in my knowledge and ability to critically engage with art that wasn’t my own. My solution was a solitary one, upon leaving art school starting my own attempts at critically writing about art exhibitions I’d seen and books I had read which I started for Somerset Art Works in 2010. I did that until 2012 when I set up my own blog, A Spanner in the Workz (shameless plug) which I still post on today. I felt then as I do now that it is important to think, understand, occasionally challenge and look outwards at other artist’s work both locally, nationally and internationally. Why? Because reading art is hard but the more I write about it the more I begin to understand it better and enjoy it. Regrettably I probably now do this more committedly than I do at developing and pushing my own practice but undoubtedly they do also feed into one another. The crucial difference proposed here in the pamphlet below is that artists are open-minded about the art that we see and attempt to understand rather than dismissing art which, at first glance, does not seem to relate directly or share aspects of our own practice. An important distinction!
Anyway, I am thinking of setting up or trialling something similar to the model below for four to five people initially in the area I live. I already host a book group, why not give this a try?! Please feel free to do the same! I’ll let you know how it goes.