With a mission to kick down the doors of the established order, East London collective Marbles & Ware are determined to get young artists the space and visibility they deserve in the art world. Their new event Bidders Bizarre is a challenge to the financially-motivated auction houses that lock out new talent and turn contemporary art into a commodity. In a twist on the well-know formula, they are injecting some much needed fun and imagination into the stale art auction to provide emerging talent with a platform to get their work seen and sold. See the gallery above for a selection of the artists featured. Huck spoke to co-creator Holly Webley-Naylor before Bidders Bizarre kicks off at a secret Hackney location, Tuesday April 1st 2014.
What exactly do you do?
We are a group of artists in the East End who create innovative arts projects by taking an existing form or structure – like an auction, in the case of Bidders Bizarre – and shaking it up to reflect the originality and vibrancy of the work on show.
Why did you start Marbles & Ware?
We all spent time in jobs that we knew weren’t right for us, that didn’t inspire us and gave us ‘the dread’ the night before. We had so many ideas about forming a company together and so many dreams and visions of where we wanted life to take us. Six months ago, we decided to stop talking about it and just do it. So Marbles & Ware was born and it has been so exciting as each new person who has become involved has bought something new to the rather colourful table.
Our first project, Bidders Bizarre, formed out of a frustration with the stuffy, elitist nature of auction houses. We believe that Saatchi has become the new arts establishment which is just as restrictive as the old art system. It’s a system that revolves around money and business deals, where the artists themselves are pushed to the sidelines. We know there is another way. We have a strong belief that art should be for everyone, so we have cut out the middle man and are doing it for ourselves.
Over the past six months we’ve forged connections with local artists, studios and art institutions to build relationships with a broad range of artists in preparation for our auction. There are 45 lots from emerging artists with very different practices- from aspiring designers, photographers, printmakers, painters, to upholsterers, furniture makers and silversmiths. The event will have a festival atmosphere where just about anything could happen and the vast majority of the money raised from each sale at the auction will go directly to the artists themselves.
How do you hope it will have an impact?
We hope to empower the young artists and nurture their talents and skills, ensuring they get the money that their piece makes at auction. We hope to make original artworks accessible for people who love art and inject some life back into the art world by allowing every piece to tell a story.
What’s the existing scene like for young artists to get their work out there?
It’s not easy. This is what one of our artists, Joseph Vass, who creates print work, told me the other day:
‘After the structure of art education, it’s up to you to make it on your own. You have to push yourself creatively to stand out and get noticed, which isn’t easy! There are so many brilliant artists, designer & illustrators out there doing exactly what you are doing, there’s more talent than there are jobs.
‘It’s great when you get a project that gives you creative freedom, although these are few and far between. I think the best work I create is when I am working on my own projects. The dream is to be able to create what I want and be able to make a living from it, which is something that Marbles & Ware are trying to facilitate.’
Who’s involved in Marbles & Ware and what does everyone do?
We are a collective that stems from many different practices and each person involved brings their specific skills together to collaborate on our large-scale art events. The core team consists of me and my partners Holly Meyrick and Tash Havelock. I have a background in performance, particularly immersive and street theatre. Tash has a background in media and more recently art department work for film and theatre. Holly has a background in both in theatre, film and art & design – particularly design and installation – and also works in music production. We work together on everything, but our roles reflect our skills, with me as performance director, Tash and Holly on artist liaison and art department. The rest of the collective is made up of creative people with lots of different skills, who each contribute accordingly.
How can people get involved/show support?
We are constantly expanding as a collective. We’re keen for any like-minded creative individuals who have skills in art, performance, photography, film making, costume design, make-up, music, dance or anything creative, get in touch with us and see how you can get involved at: info <at> marblesandware.com
In terms of showing support, just spread the word! We are a relatively new company working to establish ourselves within the art and performance world, so tell anyone you think might be interested in attending our events or supporting what we’re trying to do.
What have been the challenges in bringing Marbles & Ware to life?
The challenges of starting out as a new company are the uncertainties. It’s all new and there isn’t a manual that teaches you how to do it all, but having faith in our ideas is key to pushing things forward. Of course mistakes are made but it’s a constant journey of learning and understanding what works and what doesn’t.
What have been the major inspirations?
We are drawn to immersive events and companies such as Punch Drunk, Secret Cinema and the British festival scene as a whole. With Bidders Bizarre, we are taking the existing auction house form, shaking it up and spinning it on it’s head to create something new and current.
What’s the future for Marbles & Ware?
We plan to run four Bidders Bizarre events this year and we’ll also be taking on a number of creative projects. We’re helping with production design for Meadows in the Mountains – a music festival in the Bulgarian mountains – and will be taking a roaming play with music and spoken word to festivals around the UK this Summer.
Find out more about Bidders Bizarre.
The anarchic art auctioneers return for Bidders Bizarre II on Friday 26 September.