Claudia Kennaugh is the final judge we have to welcome to the panel for the Jackson’s Painting Prize 2022. Claudia is the founder of Art & People, a Bristol-based art advisory service offering guidance to artists and collectors. Here she tells us how she became an Art Advisor and shares her advice to those entering the competition this year.
Above image: Question – is Painter a Scalable Profession, 2021, Chiara Sorgato, Oil on canvas, 125 x 160 cm | 49 x 63 in
Clare: Can you tell us about how you founded Art & People and what drives you to support artists in this way?
Claudia: I was co-running my family’s gallery in London, where I offered art advisory for our collectors. The service started to take off and I was preparing to fly solo when it dawned on me that I was really going to miss the nurturing of artists. During my years at the gallery, artists would always come in for advice about their professional practice and it made me realise how much of a lack of practical information there is available. It felt key to offer a service that helped artists as much as collectors, so I expanded the venture to support both.
Clare: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing artists today?
Claudia: Having to wear so many different hats other than the beret! What I mean is most artists just want to immerse themselves in their practice. They don’t all feel comfortable sorting their finances or becoming an instagram sensation. So much is expected of artists, even when they have gallery representation so it can be a lot to juggle. There is an art to being self-employed, finding the balance is key.
Clare: Which four artists, dead or alive, would you invite to a dinner party and why?
Claudia: I like the idea of the dynamic between Picasso, Wilfredo Lam, Leonora Carrington and Rufino Tamayo. Picasso started it all for me so he will always be on the list. Then the Paris scene introduced me to many artists I love, particularly the more spiritual work of Wilfredo Lam. I feel an innate affinity to Latin American art, likely because my grandfather and mother were brought up in Argentina. And for many years my Mum and I have been collaborating with South American artists in the gallery. In 2019 I went on a solo sourcing trip to Mexico and discovered the spellbinding work of Rufino Tamayo. The ancestral undercurrent of his work, like many artists in Oaxaca, really spoke to me. It brought me back around to Leonora Carrington who’s otherworldly paintings feel limitless and I’m only just starting to scratch the surface of. I think the conversations, shared common ground and potential debate would be fascinating!
Clare: What have been your exhibition highlights of 2021, either online or in real life? Who are the artists you are most inspired by this past year?
Claudia: The Lucy Stein show at Spike Island really moved me – it’s full of mythology and feminine archetypal wonder and it had me thinking for days. I also really enjoyed This is the Night Mail, an artist-curated collection by Ida Ekblad at Whitechapel Gallery. The room was painted full on gallery red and the heavy hang, over-the-top frames and mix of periods was sensational. In terms of individual artists, I’m spoiled in Bristol! There is such a strong community of amazing people like Pauline Scott-Garrett, Ben Risk and Adam Hedley. They continue to push the boundaries of their practices and explore innovative ways of exhibiting their work.
Clare: How important do you think awards and competitions are for artists today?
Claudia: They are a useful avenue but not the only route. They can be expensive and disheartening so it’s important for artists to choose ones that are relevant to them and their journey.
Clare: What will you be looking for in the entries submitted to the competition this year?
Claudia: I want to be able to feel the artist’s essence – their vision, their voice.
Clare: Do you have any advice for artists out there thinking about entering Jackson’s Painting Prize this year?
Claudia: Don’t let a lack of experience hold you back. Be yourself, wholeheartedly!
Clare: What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
Claudia: I’m very excited to be launching a series of coaching tutorials for artists. They offer an introduction to topics like: ‘Writing & Talking About Your Work’, ‘Presentation, Framing & Editions’ and ‘Pricing Your Artwork’. The videos will be available to stream from our website at the end of January. Sessions are £12 each and you can login to re-watch anytime. I’m also running my first webinar next month for Visual Artists Ireland, which feels like a really wonderful opportunity to connect to more artists and invite them into the community.