Artistic and personal growth part II


The Artist’s success lies in joining peer groups with a common artistic goal.

When I read Mervyn Peake’s fantasy works Titus Groan (1946), I was obsessed and almost shocked by his description of the Bright Carvers:

“whose only purpose is to carve elaborate objects out of wood and present them to the Earl..”,
“..three of which are chosen to be placed into the castle museum ‐ a place where hardly anyone ever goes apart from the curator, who sleeps through the days amid a thick layer of protective dust. All the rest of the carvings are burned.”

I was stunned back then some twenty odd years ago by the vanity; the efforts and the waist. Yet now I see that the Bright Carvers might have been quite content. They could carve elaborate objects as they desired, they have the prestige of being a Bright Carver, and they seem to have a support group and a creative environment from which they could tap
inspiration for personal and artistic growth. In 2015 the world of the artist is more sinister. Creative industry, ego driven art curators, needless to say the sham in the art market. All these keep me as an artist well away from my chosen vocation.

In part I of Artistic and personal growth, I have identified that my personal artistic growth can be greatly increased by making/joining a peer group with a common artistic goal. The common artist’s goal could be for example: the representation of technical and mechanical principles in the fine arts.
{personal note: Would this help me? Do other artists also feel they could gain from interacting with peers from their profession? And can I pin point its failure or success.}

A brief formulation

Using an adaptation from Hart, R. (1992) the ladder of participation, I want to see if it is possible to activate artists’ own participation from tokenism to full citizenship in
the art world and develop a peer group in the field of ‘the representation of technical and mechanical principles in the fine arts’ whereby there is a potential for
artistic growth.

 Hart's adapted ladder of participation


full citizenship

  1. We the artists initiate a project and invite curators to co-run it. [peer groups with a common artistic goal]
  2. We the artists organize and direct our own exhibitions and shows.
  3. The curator-initiates the exhibition and shares the decision with us the artists.
  4. I am informed and consulted by the curator about the exhibition or show.
  5. My artwork is sold as a product, I am not consulted, but receive my money.
  6. The curator shows my art work to decorate an event.
  7. My artwork is used for someone’s political, financial or social gain.


this pole was published in Dec 8, 2013

There are areas where [peer groups with a common artistic goal] are successful. Like the Bridges Organization (art and mathematics). They hold annual conferences, where practicing mathematicians, scientists and artists come together in mutual exchange and encouragement. What makes them successful participants?
Many questions will need to be addressed:
Is it possible in theory to set up a functioning artist peer group?
Why are visual artists especially reluctant with the idea of gaining full citizenship in their own field?
What are the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and are they found in an peer group?

In the part III, I will set out a 2 year plan to answer if an Artist’s success lies in joining peer groups with a common artistic goal.