Save our Art shops!
THREE of my favourite art shops have closed down within the last year, two in West Kent and one in East London.
The loss of one was bad enough but the third was a crushing blow, that one had a huge selection.
Artists seem to be keeping very silent about the loss of their art shops. I think three is rather a lot to lose.
The only 'art shop' left in my town is a W H Smith which just sells dreary office basics or things for school children and toddlers. There is only a limited range of paper products, such as bright coloured card, again for small children, and shops just stock primary colours. You are lucky to find a sable paint brush in them but if you want a plastic one, you are spoilt for choice. There is virtually nothing for adults.
If people need oil or a special kind of paint, they have to go to another town. Ironically, there are plenty of DIY shops in most towns.
I've noticed that many small British towns are just not artist-friendly. I live near a 'commuter town', full of office-workers. They have clothes shops, numerous card and gift shops and supermarkets if but you are one of those people who prefer to actually 'make things', it is a real job, so you end up sticking to drawing on a 'child's drawing pad' from a pound shop as the shop doesn't supply much else.
Even when I was in East London the other day, as my favourite one had closed, I couldn't find an art shop for miles, all I saw were relentless Starbucks, cafes, bars and restaurants. It appears tha t the City of London has 'no artists at all', with the severe lack of artshops. I ended up finding one near Charing Cross after a hike.
Without art in the community, more and more of these commuter towns and villages become dull. I always thought artists were supposed to be part of the community but in some ways, I feel they are being ostracised.
Only once or twice a year does my town hold an art exhibition, perhaps because the artists spend a lot of time hunting for materials or because they're not very culturally minded. And in some towns, there are hardly any sculptures either.
With the lack of art shops, I had thought of being 'an aborigine' and use natural materials in dire necessity 'to create' something; artists just can't be stopped.However, it depends what project you want to do. I need to stock up on metallic paints and I don't exactly get the same effect using 'soil', and aborigine work in Kent, can look somewhat incongruous, though 'interesting'.
Going on Ebay isn't much help either as sometimes you want to browse and in an art shop you can meet other like-minded people, and you can browse the ads for 'studios, art classes and the like'. It also an uplifting and an inspiring place.
In order for me to stock up on some decent materials I have to trudge to Tunbridge Wells, which is nearly ten miles from where I am. Another shop, that has 'everything, is even further at 15 miles. I don't want to spend my valuable time travelling. Some of us only have weekends available.
Is it a way to turn artists into 'robotic office workers?'.