We're delighted to introduce the guest curator of our upcoming mini auction: Jack Trodd, founder of Brushes with Greatness! We sat down with Jack and asked him about his career in the arts so far, the artists he's most excited about, and what artwork he would buy if money was no object.
What prompted you to start Brushes with Greatness? Can you tell us about your career in the arts thus far?
First and foremost a desire to return to a passionate and fulfilling profession. Whilst BWG was in its conceptual infancy (at the end of 2020) I was a freelance marketing consultant. I started doing private commercial consultancy for artists and designers on a 'helping out friends' basis, whilst deciding the avenue that fit best for me in the arts. In doing so I witnessed too many of the artists I was supporting/speaking to being exploited and mistreated by galleries, commercial clients and collectors. I wanted to protect these creatives whilst also offering them opportunities. I love experiential exhibitions and felt there was a lack of curatorial commitment to EXPERIENCE on the commercial circuit. I wanted to see if I could create an artist first, commercial and experiential arts enterprise I don’t see in many places. The vision was to offer all artists and viewers something to enjoy, with conceptual curation - the deepest love discovered along the way - and high production exhibitions at the axis. Giving emerging artists commercial experience in a safe environment is essential to helping them know their value and how they should be treated. Hopefully helping accelerate their early career gallery and commercial opportunity navigation.
My career thus far? Fast, full on and fun as hell. The rate with which BWG has grown in 2 years, the responses, the community, the willingness of my idols, galleries and other industry’s leaders to collaborate and advise us on the journey - it’s all very empowering. Hopefully we can continue to progress the change that the industry needs to see around transparency and equal opportunities.
We're fascinated by the theme you chose for your mini auction, 'The Flesh and the Answer'; what inspired this?
I'd been reading poem after poem from different collections associated to my focal interests that would offer a broad yet centric focus for artists working in many styles to respond to. And when you know, you know. Muriel Rukeyser's poem is so positive, passionate and metaphorically naturalistic, despite the oppressed and downtrodden era, it couldn't have felt more right. There are abundant references in there merging the earth and inter human harmonious response. The title is an excerpt from the first line of the poem.
When approaching an exhibition idea, I always search for a spark which inspires positive connection with the self, the earth and compassion for each other (or the lot). This is often discovered in other exhibitions. I’m romanced by shows where the work is founded on poetry, books, excerpts from alluring literature etc - Elsa Rouy's exhibition ‘I Could Always Crack a Joke’ (GUTS Gallery, May 2022) and Ken Currie's solo exhibition ‘The Black Boat’ (Flowers Gallery, Nov 2022) were recent stand outs - and wanted to play with this conceptual approach for one of my curatorial group projects.
A poem inspired an artist, inspired an exhibition, inspired my curatorial desire. And so repeats the cycle.
At AOAP we always try to champion rising talent. What emerging artist are you most excited about in your auction?
Don’t ask me to choose between my 50 favourite children AOAP!! But hey, we’ve been lucky enough that some of my personal world favourites have agreed to contribute to the auction so we'll stick to my lifers for this hard question:
I’m lucky enough to be working towards a 2024 project with Hira Gedikoglu following the rave response to her Black Dog works on paper I exhibited in BWG Gallery’s Feb 2022 group exhibition Two by Two.
What artwork would you buy if money was no object?
The answer changes weekly!
Being true to my landscape-loving form however, it’d have to be View of Toledo by El Greco. I always loved what a front runner to the focal landscape movement this piece was, and how fantastical, grand and medieval it looks. I particularly like the odd perspectives, making the hills and mountains look like they’re shaped to the tight curvature of the earth. It’s steeped in art history whilst being totally original in its day. It makes one feel as though they’ve fallen into a high-fantasy epic as much as the Spanish Renaissance. I feel a few of the artists I work with - Joe Grieve, Raffael Bader, Suhaylah H. - have this kind of original flare in their approach to landscapes. Originating and adapting the movement with new eyes, new earthly passions and raw technical flare to take us on a journey.
What upcoming projects are you looking forward to in 2023?
This year we see the return of BWG stars like the aforementioned Joe Grieve and Suhaylah H. for their second solo exhibitions with BWG Gallery, following their 2022 sell out first solo exhibitions. Plus, some new faces like Ingram Prize Winner James Dearlove.
On the Agency side of BWG following a freshly confirmed collaboration, we will be hosting a group exhibition in the ridiculously grand rotunda room at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square, Tower Bridge later this year.
I also have the pleasure of co-running the Colstoun Artist Residency up in Scotland which we launched January 2022. In Nov/Dec we will be hosting a touring exhibition of this next generation of world class contemporary landscape painters, up there and here in London.