06 February 2006

Art tours of london

I think this is a great idea and something that we should definitely be backing. The cost of tours ranges between £45 and £190. See the exhibit K website for more details.

Unlocking the Hidden Secrets of London's Art Scene
The words “art tour” have long been associated with highbrow culture vultures and tick-that-one-off-the-list tourist types wending their well-trodden way around Europe’s illustrious museums and churches. But if new kids on the art block, Exhibit-K have anything to do with it, all that’s about to change.

The brainchild of Sarah Douglas, Mimei Thompson (both of whom are graduates of the Royal College of Art) and Tim Duncan, Exhibit-K offers tailor-made insider’s tours of the London art world, which, they promise, “will revolutionise the way we view and have access to contemporary art.”

Modern art is increasingly sought after and collected by both investors and art lovers alike and right now London, with an estimated 10,000 artists living and working in the city, offers the world’s highest concentration of artists in any one place. But as the market opens up (according to its official website, £26m was spent at the 2004 Frieze Art Fair alone), what goes on behind the scenes remains a mystery to a public whose experience of contemporary art remains limited to large, sponsored events and well-known public art galleries. Which is where Exhibit-K comes in.

Both Sarah Douglas and Mimei Thompson are practicing artists (Douglas was named in Art Review’s selection of top 25 “emerging artists” in 2005). As such, they have, according to Professor Graham Crowley, RCA’s Head of Painting, “The respect and esteem of the wider artistic community,” giving them an insider’s knowledge and access to London’s art community.

A typical Exhibit-K art tour will include visits to galleries and project spaces that are usually inaccessible to the general public, combined with trips to artists’ studios. They offer clients the chance to meet the artists and learn about their work first hand and, because they’re tailored according to clients’ interests, can focus on any aspect of the visual arts, from photography or painting to video and instillation art. Crucially, each tour is led by a practicing artist and RCA graduate, who is able to offer informed, professional insight into the contemporary art scene.

Along with individual and small group tours, Exhibit-K will be staging art-related events – from artist-led discussions and presentations to one-off performance events – all designed to allow, according to Exhibit-K’s marketing director Tim Duncan, art lovers to “see the real birthplace of up and coming art, to experience the grass roots of the whole scene.” It’s a formula that’s already proven to be popular with a variety of well-heeled corporate and private clients. Hardly surprising when you consider part of the appeal of such a scheme must surely be the chance to bring out a little of the Charles Saatchi in us all.

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