Tag Archives: Exhibitions

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.

Kobo Art

26 Nov

Hi everyone, I’m back and feel amazingly privileged to have been appointed the English-Art correspondent for Artipeeps! Better make this a good one…..

In my last blog I gave you an insight into my excruciating lack of Twitter knowledge and how I have stumbled through (so far) with my grand plans to reach out to the world and share my artwork to inspire generations to come!!!

Pure luck combined with random persistence meant I somehow managed to get my paintings noticed by ‘Show Us Your Art’ and it was their exhibition in Middlesborough and the feedback and contacts made since then, that led to me moving up the Twitter ladder, from ’Twitter Virgin’ to ‘Twitter Novice’ I suppose, which is a title I am very proud of. A title which, in itself, is an improvement from that of the ‘Twitter Ignoramus’, who basically smashes his fists on the keyboard and gently weeps.

I am now finding Twitter to be an amazing tool for making new contacts and for meeting potential new patrons and have managed to accumulate close to 2000 ‘followers’ basically, I think, by just being myself, trying to be helpful with the limited knowledge I have on the subject, and not going on about myself all the time.

It seems to me that spending about 80% of my ‘Twittertime’ offering advice, and commenting on others’ posts and 20% talking about my own accomplishments (limited though they are to date) seems about right.

I have even found out what ‘hashttag’ means. As in hashtag “EPIC”…..from that annoying TV/Radio advert. I always wondered what the shouty guy was going on about and now I know. Basically you place the ‘#’ in front of a word in one of your tweets and this might be one of the key words that people search for…..so your tweet could come up countless times from people entering keywords which you have ‘hashtagged’.

Wow I didn’t think I would go on about ‘hashtags’ for quite so long as a few days ago, when I didn’t know what they were. Blimey must stop now. Oh ‘hashtags’….right that’s it. Also everyone reading this probably knows exactly what they are and I’m back to being a Twitter ignoramus; oh well, I’m cool with that.

Right, I’d better start talking about the actual topic of this blog now – Kobo Art:


A friend of mine, Tahir Shah, who now lives and works in Dubai, happened to ‘like’ some of my paintings, which I had uploaded onto Twitter and this lead to the founders of Kobo Art, Shan and Tiya Fazelbhoy, who are associates of Tahir, taking an interest in my work.

I had an email from them asking if I would mind if they uploaded some of my paintings onto their site and collaborate with them in the promotion of my artwork.

Naturally I was overjoyed. Tahir is something of an entrepreneur and one of his new ventures is ‘Moto Roti’, a brand new approach to Pakistani take away in the style of a Subway restaurant. – high quality, healthy, Pakistani food on the go.  Cooking can be as equally creative as composing a piece of artwork or painting a picture. Since University I have been in regular contact with Tahir and below is his last message to me.

“James, I’m trying to make that bread that my mum made, when we were at Uni, famous. If Mexico have their burrito, and Turkey its pitta bread why can’t roti be used as wraps? Imagine my mum’s food that you used to eat, as the filings, healthy and delicious!”

Tahir is clearly trying to produce food formed from not only his own personal history,  but also his own culinary imagination and creativity, and it is transparent that this passion has fed into his other ventures. I could go on about how delicious the food produced at Moti Roti is, but that is for another time…but here is a link!  http://www.motiroti.me/

“Dubai-based entrepreneur has comfort food all wrapped up”

And you can read an article here:


Ok, so Kobo Art is an online art gallery launched in May 2012. Kobo provides a platform for showcasing upcoming UAE (United Arab Emirates) based artists and their aim is to make art accessible and affordable.

As you need to be based in the UAE to have your artwork advertised on the Kobo art site, they also have a range of international artists on their very popular Facebook site. http://www.facebook.com/KoboArt

This is linked to the main site and a page has been very kindly dedicated to my artwork:


The premise of the company is to provide art lovers with a platform and opportunity to sell and buy high quality original art that is accessible and affordable, and they say that they are committed to providing a platform for upcoming artists to showcase their work and for art enthusiasts to be able to start a collection or add to an existing one.

Through their website, and also very popular private viewings Kobo aim to build a community for artists and art lovers and hope to enhance the visibility of art via an online presence, where quality art work is easily available.

“Art is about what appeals to your senses and adds beauty to your life, whether in your home or work place or given as a gift through our Kobo vouchers.”

“The idea to set-up this business literally just popped into my head one evening about a year back. It sounded like an idea worth pursuing and ever since, it has been a question of working towards making it a reality.” Shan Fazelbhoy

We started Kobo to provide a platform for UAE based artists to exhibit their art and the positive response has been overwhelming”  Tiya Fazelbhoy

Shan also says that during this process, it would obviously be difficult to identify any one thing as a challenge; they had to stay focused, working systematically, one step at a time towards their goal. Of course, (they say) they have encountered frustrations along the way but none of these have been insurmountable. Their motivating factor has and continues to be the opportunity to be involved in something that they love while providing a space for artists, building a community and creating awareness that art can and is for everybody.

“The positive response from people, especially artists, here in the U.A.E. and internationally has been immense and is a huge help in reinforcing the fact that we are providing a much needed service which in turn is an impetus to constantly work towards and build on what we have set out to do.” Tiya Fazelbhoy


James Mackenzie Chilling in Dubai!


Those of you who read my previous blog, may see a theme  emerging here.

I sincerely believe that there should be simple ways to allow previously unrecognised artists and their work to seen by the general public. The intervention of new technology such as Twitter and Facebook and other social media means that, at last, Art can be seen by all and new talents enjoyed by anyone.

I have always had a passion for art and was encouraged by teachers, family and friends who told me that I had a talent. As a result I have always created, whether it was for an exhibition or just for personal pleasure.

For me there is nothing as exciting as a blank canvas. I love to completely immerse myself in my art without even the distraction of music. I can work for hours in an almost educed state just creating a purely original piece of artwork containing my own thoughts and visions.

I have accumulated a mass of artwork over the years that has just been stored away all over the house, for no one other than me to see and keep locked away in the back of my mind.

The internet has been an amazing tool to allow me to unveil this work to whoever cares to see it. I have generally been overwhelmed by the response to my artwork and this has inspired me to produce more and as a result one of our bedrooms has now been converted into an art studio!

I take so much pleasure in creating art. For decades I have been disillusioned by the whole art scene. Now I can instantly upload my latest paintings to my website and get an instant response! Truly amazing.

The internet and the injection of social media has made such a difference to my life and, no doubt that of countless other previously undiscovered and similarly disenchanted artists.


You can follow Jamie via Twitter:


or look at his artwork on his website:

http://www.mackenzieart.co.uk _________________________________________________________________________________________________________


  • If you haven’t already found it you can  find your  second dose of flash fiction with Laura Besley -Here:  ‘Flash Fortnightly’ 
  • A new recurring strands starts this week : ‘Classic Friday’. Watch out for the first instalment on Friday 30th, Stimulating Classic Literature reviews with NISHA MOODLEY
  • Also there’s our FabFiction And Poetry Page featuring KATE GARRETTTIFFANY COFFMAN & KARIN HEYER. Please do get in contact with me if you’d like to contribute to this page- Either via the comment box or Twitter @ArtiPeeps
  • Oh yes, and I’m pleased to say we’re going to be shortly adding some Music orientated blogs with our latest new contributor TANIA HALBAN

Show Us Your Art – Middlesborough Exhibition

15 Oct

Just before I take you through a journey of dicovery a few words about who I am and why I am writing this blog. My name is James Mackenzie, I am an artist/teacher and art lover. I have recently put my work out there on the world wide web and am starting to get noticed. My website address is www.mackenzieart.co.uk. I really don’t want to go on about myself so that’s it. Oh and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/JMackenzieArt?ref=hltwitter and of course Twitter https://twitter.com/jmackenzieart. That really is it! Here we go……

I am relatively new to Twitter and when this exhibition was advertised I was a complete novice. Early on I ‘Followed’ basically every major Art related page and also top art critiques……I quickly found that I was not getting quite as many ‘Follow’s back’ as I would have liked, actually none!

One of the Art pages I was following was ‘Show Us Your Art’, they were holding a large scale exhibition supported by the award winning Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima). They had commented on my artwork and said I should enter the exhibition. This was the opportunity I was waiting for but had no idea of the magnitude of the exhibition at this point.

These are the compositions that were chosen, Desolate Blue 1 and Desolate Blue 2

All works were judged by a panel of local experts, but unlike other art festivals, entry is free and the judges don’t get to see the name of the artist whose work they’re looking at.

I was lucky enough to have two of my compositions selected by the panel to be in the ‘Show Us Your Art’ exhibition in Middlesborough from Friday, September 21 to Sunday, September 23.

The Works were exhibited in locations including the BBC Open Centre, The Cleveland Centre, mima itself and in shops along Linthorpe Road, such as Psyche, Red Square and Triads.

The aim of the exhibition was to get art out and on display and not hidden away. A chance for unknown artists to have their work seen.

Unbelievably in the UK eighty per cent of the country’s art is in storage. This is Artwork owned by the people and paid for using their taxes. A real shame.

The ‘Show Us Your Art’ website has really opened my eyes to the art world. I discovered that investment groups often buy up the works of promising young artists and lock them away in containers, knowing that only one of them has to become successful for them to make a fortune.

In the meantime, this economic trap sees years and years’ worth of artists’ hard work, meant to be seen, to provoke debate, to inspire, never see the light of day and the artists who toiled so long to create them remain unseen.

Show Us Your Art wanted to change this and get the artwork into the public arena where it can be seen and appreciated. I began to realise how lucky I was to be a part in this.

Virtual Gallery

An additional 34 excellent works were viewed on the ‘virtual gallery’. There were posters in windows all around Middlesborough town center carrying QR codes. That is the image above…….a QR code. It is an ingenious way to gain extra exposure of the artwork there just wasn’t the room for. The QR code was a way for people to see the artwork by simply scanning with their phone.


The exhibition had no funding no sponsorship and no entrance fee. It was purely the art loving community getting together to make it possible for artwork to be seen and artists discovered.

Curator Emily Petyt said, “The response has been amazing. People look down at places like Middlesbrough, because they think there’s no culture here”.

“But we asked local artists to send in their work. There are no prizes, no money, but we still got nearly 300 entries in three weeks”.

“We put out a shout for volunteers and said, ‘meet us in a café’; they filled the place. There’s some real talent and a real passion for art in this area and people from outside should really come and check it out.”

Senior curator at mima, James Beighton said, “mima is always interested in engaging with people in the area who are wanting to do something with art and that’s very important.

“So it was a bit of a no brainer to be honest, when a group of people come to us and say, ‘We want to provide exposure to a greater number of artists.’ Of course you’re going to want to support that.”

Show Us Your Art’s founder, Graeme Thomson said: “This is about people, more than anything. There’s a lot of real talent around here and all we’re doing is letting Teesside shout about its artists, and letting artists shout about Teesside.”

The exhibition was a huge success, just take a look at the review on the BBC website:


%d bloggers like this: