Tag Archives: Chad Swanson

Vikings Ahoy! The Nine Realms Update (April)

2 Apr

nine realms8

19 poets, 22 artists, 3 musicians and a Viking Boat

 Vikings Ahoy! 

Our Indiedgogo Campaign

The previous month or so has been filled with lots of preparation for the launch of our Indiegogo Campaign to raise funds for the commissioning costs of the 50 cm x 80 cm Carved Viking boat that woodcarver Mark Crowley is going to be LIVE CARVING for us from his studio in Newcastle.

We shall be launching our campaign on Monday 20th April!  I’ve been busy creating  our campaign video, and I am now putting the final touches to our Campaign Page and starting to show it to people. Over Easter I shall create a  special Campaign page for this site. So please do watch out for the launch, and consider supporting us and our boat!

It’s going to be very exciting to see the boat emerge from within the oak wood that Mark has chosen. The boat will act as the focal point of our poetry readings and realm tours.




This year we are also running 4 Twitter competitions attached to our campaign. Two poetry-led ones, one fiction, and one art. They will be run by Vikings : Shirley Golden, James Mackenzie, Kate Garrett (and myself) and Jim C. Mackintosh. We will release the competition dates and details after Easter. There will be some really original ‘The Nine Realms’ prizes attached.


Art work:

Although the deadline for all project art isn’t until the 30th April, three great pieces have already come in. From artists:  Ann Supan, Robert Fitzmaurice and  Chad Swanson.  Here they are:

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All three pictures have great impact and are going to compliment the realm poetry powerfully. For Ann, it will be her first ever exhibition experience, and for Chad his first UK exhibition. I’m so thrilled to have them both involved.  

As some of the artwork came in early we could also create our first poetry-art greetings card in readiness for the campaign.  A pack of three different cards will be one of our rewards.  Rob’s Nifelheim piece was chosen, and paired with a poem by Realm poet  Tom Murphy called ‘Nifelheim’. You can listen to Tom reading his poem below:


Please click on the image to enlarge.





Future Radio



The Nine Realms DVD

I went to  Future Radio last week, the community radio station we are working with in Norwich, and we have finalised two dates when we will begin to edit together the poetry mp3, paintings and music, and create an event DVD. This is something we will do steadily until the deadline at the end of June, which is when the master file has to be with the Disk Manufacturers.

Interviews with Poets and Artists

I have also been in contact with the arts programme producer at Future Radio and we are presently working out how we shall promote our campaign through their programmes, whilst also creating opportunities within which the Viking poets, artists and musicians  can be interviewed and talk about their work.

Some of our rewards will also include backer poems and songs and will be aired on Future Radio, which should be great! 

At the moment lots of the tiny threads of the project are being pulled together which is exciting, but also a little bit nerve wracking. The thought of the boat being carved, and how the crowdfunding pulls the collective together is an ongoing salve. And whenever I think about our collective, and the notion of collective endeavour, I am always pulled towards the beginning of a quote by Henry James which I have returned to again and again over the years:

‘Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind-of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads…’

Over the next few weeks up until the launch of our campaign those ‘finest threads’ are coming together and becoming an immense sensibility! And that all feels pretty wondrous, I have to say…

Thank you very much indeed for your interest,  and have a Happy Easter-all. There will be another update next week.


Viking Nicky

The Nine Realms HQ


More details about The Nine Realms

‘The Power of the Gallery’ by Chad Swanson

9 Jul



In 1917, Marcel Duchamp submitted a urinal for a gallery exhibition and in the process created what has sometimes be referred to as the most influential art piece of the 20th century. Specifically, Duchamp’s Fountain showed the power of the gallery to take something ordinary and use the sanctity of the gallery to validate it as high art.

Following in Duchamp’s footsteps were the like of Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Damien Hirst who built careers about using the gallery to change the context of creativity in order to make art out of things not usually considered to be art. In fact, the process of using the gallery to make art out of the ordinary inspired Sarah Thornton to write in her book Seven Days in the Art World:

 “In Britain , the press never tires of the question, “Is it art? “

 While the gallery may have been the temple of 20th century art, in the 21st century, it is in trouble. As stated by art critic Brian Sherwin, “In the past, galleries– specifically high profile mainstream galleries in large cities– were the only way for an artist to gain wide exposure. If you were not in a gallery you would not end up in art magazines or be talked about outside of your peer group. In other words, if you were not in a gallery you did not exist– you were not even a dot on the art world map. The Internet changed that.” http://theabundantartist.com/brian-sherwin/

The declining importance of the gallery not only has significant implications for the commerce surrounding art, it also has significant implications for what we define as art and the process by which art is validated. For example, critics of Damien Hirst used to point out that his work could be done by anyone. In response, Hirst would say, “But you didn’t did you?”

Hirst’s retort really wasn’t really fair considering that not everyone had someone like Charles Saatchi prepared to fund the creation of art and the connections to make it a success. In fact, just getting into a gallery and having work seen by powerful people was almost impossible for most artists.

Now that the internet gives the average artist a platform, they can make art like Damien Hirst and expose their art to others. Of course, when the art audience sees that everyone is able to make art like Hirst, and many in fact do, the likes of Hirst lose their lustre and ability to be seen as innovative.

Just as the gallery has lost much of its power to validate art due to the internet, so has the traditional art media. Where once it could set discussion over questions like “is it art” because it had a monopoly on the market, the internet is showing that perhaps many audiences are looking for more innovative discussions.

Reflecting the new era, we have seen a change in the career pathways of many internationally renowned artists as well as the type of art they produce. For example, the work of Shepard Fairey and Takeshi Murakami seemed to have changed the framework of pop art. Instead of taking iconic imagery and using a gallery to tag with an artists name, Fairey and Murakami create iconic imagery and spread it through the population on clothing and fashion accessories. In another example, graffiti artist Banksy has used the streets and the internet to gain exposure and it was only after gaining exposure outside of the gallery that he chose to exhibit within it. Finally, Andy Goldsworthy has made the environment his gallery and shown his work via art books and documentaries.

Even though galleries are having difficulties, my experiences at the 798 gallery district in Beijing gives me confidence that they can survive if they change their business model and appreciate that the world has changed. Just like art can’t be stuck in the same old processes, neither can galleries, but how galleries needs to change is perhaps saved for another post.



You can find out more about Chad and his art here:


or follow Chad here:



The Thing You Cannot Explain

14 Jan

The Black Swan (2011)

“The life of an artist is a contradiction.  We are expected to be individualistic, yet the worth of our work is judged in shared collective values.  This can pose some problems when we produce something very avant-garde in the spirit of Picasso, Duchamp or Gauguin, but social defined notions of quality are often defined by whether something looks similar in style to Picasso, Duchamp or Gauguin. Spirit is irrelevant.  If we are too different, then our work sits outside the square of what is socially defined as ‘good.’  

We artists are subjected to expressions and sayings that advise us to disregard public tastes. For example, Vincent van Gogh said, “Painting is a faith, and it imposes the duty to disregard public opinion.” If we were to take heed, I suppose we could disregard all those who like van Gogh’s quotes, and even the quote itself, which could get us in a weird kind of circular argument about whether we are being individualistic and disregarding public opinion. Bit of a head spinner that one.

 Another way we could disregard public opinion is to cease caring about whether the public likes our work so that when we have exhibitions, we would not care if anyone came.  I have to say that that  would be odd. I can’t speak for all other artists here, but I must say that when I have exhibitions, I really don’t want to be the only one in attendance. As an exhibiting artist, I will just have to accept that I care about the public. Furthermore, even though I am not keeping with the spirit of van Gogh, I see promotional benefits in citing the media responses etc  in my artists resume. (Ok, I’ll contradict myself again here, I hate the idea of an artist resume that cites positive social reaction to one’s art, but I use them anyway.)


To Be Reconciled (2012)

We artists are told that we are socialists and vote for left-wing parties, yet we operate like little capitalists; selling our own work, keeping our profits for ourselves, competing for gallery openings, and competing for space in art magazines. Admittedly, we sometimes stage exhibitions together; however, the fact that these exhibitions are often marketed with clichéd words like ‘eclectic’, ‘diversity’, and ‘variety’ suggests that everyone is still doing their own thing. Furthermore, some works will find a little orange dot beside them after a sale, and a very happy artist will be smiling. Maybe they will be smiling because they now have money to buy a decent meal, but maybe they will be smiling because they are more successful than their fellow exhibitors.   


Schooling Fish (2012)

Considering that it is common to hear other artists complaining that the public is too sports focussed, it might be expected that we artists might be celebrating these sales as little signs that the public does in fact like art (even if we personally didn’t get a sale.) In reality, it is more likely that the knives will be sharpened and critical comments will be uttered behind the successful artist’s back. Sales in a group exhibition definitely reveal that while all artists are equal, some are more equal than others.

I should point out that I am mainly just referring to “western” art cultures here when I say “we operate like little capitalists”. After all, I’ve experienced artist communes in China where profits are shared amongst artists, but I am told Chinese artists are repressed because they don’t have government support and don’t have ‘freedom’. I’m obviously lucky to be in Australia where only 1% of government funding for the arts actually goes to artists while the other 99% goes to organisations that allocate that 1% of funding towards those artists that they have a good relationship with. (Hmmmm, this sounds a bit like how China operates outside of the arts. The government allocates money for the people, but needs a bureaucracy to “manage” that money, which naturally promote the fact that the people want this version of Communism.)



Tribute To Maths and the Opposable Thumb 1. V=1/3A0h; 2) The Invention of Zero; 3) E=MC2- (2011)


In art, we don’t think of art’s value in monetary terms.  It would be irrational if we did. For example, I once personally spent upwards of $500 to make and exhibit a sculpture involving dead fish that offended public opinion and I knew it had almost no chance of being sold. For me, the value was in the idea and I gained great satisfaction out of seeing reactions to the idea. That said, if a gallery had come along and bought it for $50,000, I can’t tell a lie, I’d be telling everyone how much the work sold for, and increasing my prices for everything else. What can I say? I like money as much as the next artist.

I suppose this is the stage in the article where I am meant to say something profound, or give the answers to these contradictions but I am not going to do that. I am not even sure if there are any answers. Perhaps I will demonstrate my individuality here by quoting the great Georges Braque:

  “ Art is made to disturb. Science reassures. There is only one valuable thing in art: the thing you cannot explain.”

If you want to see more of Chad’s work you can visit his website Lonely Colours Here.

N.B The opinions reflected in this post are those of the guest blogger and not necessarily of ArtiPeeps. 



  • Watch Out For Frenzy’s Flash Feature this Thursday (17th January) with Greg MacKie– your fortnightly photo-poetry combination.
  • Classic Friday with Nisha Moodley kicks off again this Friday (18th January). Another great review of a classic author or work of literature.
  • New Abstract artist Lili Morgan will be taking up residence on the Visitor Peep Page next week, so watch out for her.
  • There will be also be our first Transformations Post on Monday 21st January which will focus on Book 1 of Metamorphoses in readiness for our Collaborative Poetry Project starting in February. See Transformations Page. There’s still time to join….Let me know @ArtiPeep or via the reply box.
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