CONNECTING with Sigrid Kirk

Sigrid Kirk is Co-founder of Association of Women in the Arts and a cultural strategist and art adviser. She is a Trustee of the Drawing Room, is on Glasgow International’s advisory board and the IKON Gallery London Advisory Board. She is currently studying for an Executive Masters in Cultural Leadership at the University of Maastricht/Royal Academy.⠀

1. How has spending more time at home during the lockdown changed your relationship with or understanding of your collection?⠀

With 5 people in our house, it's important to carve out our own spaces and places but also to treat the physical environment as a larger landscape. I tend to sit in different places for different calls, as I separate work from social from family, and so have been looking at my works more closely and thinking about how I have hung them. Inevitably, I am thinking about issues around isolation, big tech and data, fragility, relationships and family - some works have become imbued with much more meaning. ⠀

I’m thinking particularly of our Gillian Wearing photograph, 'My Grip on Life is Rather Loose’ from her 'Signs that Say What you Want Them to Say and Not’, where she asked people on the street to write whatever they were thinking on a card and hold it up. Many days this reflects my inner dialogue. But I also think about the next time we will be able to hang out like this on a street corner, and the dynamic between public and private.⠀

Also, Langland & Bells 'Icon (Mark Zuckerberg)' from a series of digital portraits from their 'Master of the Universe 'show at IKON Gallery 2018 that explored the increasingly profound influence the leaders of the huge global technology companies have on our lives in the age of ‘Big Data’. In the current stampede to digital and virtual communication and exchange, it's important to be cognisant and constantly test, discuss and think about the profound way they are reshaping the cultures, politics and economies of societies all over the world.⠀

2. Where are you looking to find new artists/artwork? ⠀

Instagram continues to be a rich source. I have been buying smaller works that support artist communities and ecosystems most notably Matt Burroughs' #artistsupportpledge, #trusselltrust and #artisttechnicianemergencyfund which have introduced me to artists I didn't know, and am looking more closely at different studio practices. I'm also purchasing editions from great non-profit organisations including Glasgow International and Eastside Projects. The Eye of the Collector Viewing room is a great resource for design and thinking about cross disciplinary collecting.⠀

3. What artists are you most excited about right now?⠀

I’ve spent a bit more time looking at Alberta Whittle and Tai Shani in the past few days. I wrote a research essay recently about Sonia Boyce and am incredibly excited about her presentation at Venice (delayed to 2022) and am also rediscovering John Latham and the Boyle family. ⠀

4. Has this period impacted on the way you might collect in the future?⠀

Lockdown is allowing me to roam eclectically across time and discipline without the artificial urgency of the art fair buying mechanism.⠀

5. What do you feel needs to happen now for the visual arts to weather this storm? ⠀

It keeps being said that we are all in this together, and it has been wonderful to see the community-led approach across the visual arts sector. I think there needs to be some major restructuring, even re-trenching, and that to protect the cultural sector we need to collaborate and consolidate - in practical and fiscal ways - as well as sharing ideas. I feel we need to think locally but act globally, and the act of joining communities within our art ecology isn't just about supportive frameworks but an imperative. ⠀

Image 1: 'My Grip on Life is Rather Loose’ from 'Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say’, Gillian Wearing 1992-93⠀

Image 2: 'Icon (Mark Zuckerberg)', Langlands and Bell, 2018⠀

Image 3: Sonia Boyce, Six Acts, 2018, performance at Manchester Art Gallery. Performer Lasana Shabazz; Photo Andrew Brooks

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