Sunday, 21 November 2021

Busy Busybody

I am stunned, nay, aghast that I haven't written a blog for almost 5 months. What have I been doing with this motor mouth, with all these words. Allow me to catch you up - you the other busy folk, and you, who read this blather - actually strike through on 'blather' I do try to write meaningful stuff as well as quip. Quipping is what has got me through some of the far too meaningful stuff in my life, and I'm afraid it's here to stay. But back to busy. We've all been busy haven't we? We lead busy lives. Busy is our excuse for everything: Why haven't we been in touch (busy); You have been busy haven't you? (if you have a few kids). Busy is a oneupmanship thing too, the 'I'm busier than you.' It's like the adult version of 'my dad's stronger than your dad.' We're all busier than can be because we have important things to do. We have statuses to feed, platforms to build, social media posts of us with other people that no one else is interested in to post; Facebook rants to have. Lately I've been so busy I barely have time to wee, I wait until I am in eagle pose (yes, I find time for yoga sometimes) before dashing off to empty the ignorant bladder that doesn't get how busy I am, and I will be chatting about that and looking forward to hearing more about your busy lives too, given I am a busybody. A busy busybody.

But how about not being busy? I am about to enter a very busy week in which I will be finishing off artworks for a group show on the 4 December; writing a book proposal as well as continuing work with two editing clients and decanting the middle floor of the house to the ground floor in preparation for building work. The upper floor of our house is also being built and we five are trying to live in the gaps. The thing about trying to live in the gaps is that they are not big or wide or high or deep enough. I've just come back from a run in the Conwy Valley - deep, wide, expansive, beautiful creation, during which I meditated on the general busyness and the gaps, the gaps that I am mindful of and determined to widen. I love being a home educating mother, wife, artist, writer. What I don't like is when I get too busy to enjoy just being. Not being 'a' whatever, just being. Just being the runner moving through the landscape; feeling the warm cup of tea in my hand and staring at the mountain outside my windows; just sitting in the countryside or reading a book; staring into the middle distance and dreaming. What does just being look like for you? Get busy thinking about it.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

A Comparative Doddle


It's the middle of what's turned out to be an eventful year. We finished our holiday apartment despite losing our builders during lockdown, sadly we can't coax them to return and tradesmen are now being paid such silly money that we're building the rest of our house ourselves. More affordable, albeit slower. In my experience, builders can't be relied upon to turn up when they say they will, or even call back, so it's he and me. We did have some lovely builders for the first stage of the build, which was fantastic, but all the stonework and woodwork and decorating was done by us. Many months of grafting. Old school repointing of ancient stone is fingertip-grinding stuff but the results have been worth it and the reviews have been exceptional.

Our kids are crazy for karate these days, having begun a month ago and now on to yellow belts, which are very pretty, but I don’t think that’s the point. They train three times a week. Our daughter had her first surfing lesson this last birthday and she is now sold. If we're to pay for any further lessons one of us will need to be sold too. Her recent birthday was more eventful than usual. We started out with our heart-exploding doughnuts and other treats from the local bakery who are single-handedly ruining the health of the town, then daughter and one son went off the local park while I cracked on with fashioning my three into surfers to place on top of the 3-tiered (and almost teared, when I thought the only thing that was going to rise was me) cake complete with surfboards, ocean and waves. I try to outdo myself every birthday with my cake sculpting mayhem but as it turned out this time I was only going to get 20 minutes for that cake accompli. I'd just finished the 3 surfboards when son 2 came back from the park with blood pouring from a gash atop his head. He'd leapt up and been accosted by a chunk of wood. Husband had to scoot him to the small local hospital who 'don't do head injuries' so it was off to one of the 2 larger hospitals in the area - the one that has a triage for kids, thank God - not a given round these parts and before long (as in, a few hours not the 9-12 it usually takes) he was home all glued back together again unlike Humpty Dumpty. As per my daughter’s request, we'd been due to have a particular lunch, so I made it in haste and packed it up for a now pre-surf picnic that became necessarily post-picnic. Then it was a scenic drive in Snowdonia and on to dinner after which I hastily fashioned the surfers for the cake. Their arrangement sums up the day. One of the kids is surfacing from the water, one is half on the board and one is flat out. We rounded off the evening with our usual family party with a playlist that included many family favourites, amongst them, AC/DC, Sia, ZZ Top, Michael Jackson, House of Pain (seemed appropriate) Beastie Boys and various other modern acts my daughter chose, some very good but I can't remember who they are.

Life is generally not getting back to normal, as in we can hang with people, though there is no normal for us. Each week is different as it is for many homeschooling, freelancing and now freewheeling homeschooling families - Our cars were both scrapped just before lockdown and we've been hiking, biking and training (requires patience) it since then, but recently we bought a Mazda Bongo, and as such, we find we're automatically (in both senses) in something of a bonkers Bongo club. Other members wave maniacally at us as we drive down the A55. There are physical meet-ups too, which we won't be joining (we have so much in common! Our Bongos!), but I am sold on van life. Yesterday we went to visit friends on the Llyn peninsula and our new fridge (oh the fun to be had with van accessories!) kept the fizz and the lychee juice and all of us, all chilled, if you don’t count the country stop where I leapt out into mud or manure so that I could help our youngest could throw up in a bush. I've never been that into vehicles, but I'm sold on this one. There have been weekends in the sea in Anglesey, trips to Snowdonia where we can huddle over a table of freshly made coffee and admire the views rain or shine or rain again, and the usual biking to my studio to paint and work where the sea and mountain views are some of the best of God’s palette. I've been working on a couple of interesting books for clients and, having finished a book in March, am working on my first factual narrative - no research! I am the research. A comparative doddle. Happy mid year bears!


Tuesday, 1 June 2021

The Art of Seeing

Last week, in the full splendour of a rare Welsh sun, I sat with my three children in our little courtyard, taking them through a 40-minute drawing exercise that I did with them. As I drew a rosebud, stem and leaves, and later, part of the birdbath, I was captivated by how the more I looked to draw upon, the more details I saw.

This might sound obvious, but how often do we look at flowers or trees en masse and miss their individual and particular beauty as they blur into one? At first sight, here, above a vigorous stem were tight buttery petals pushing and birthing to come out of a divided cap - like an elve's, surrounded by green leaves, some small and a waxy lime colour, some deeper green with ridged edges - less sharp than they looked. 

On closer viewing, I saw tiny veins in the petals and mini thorns emerging like baby serpent's fangs. There was the beauty of discoloured blemishes and parts of the flower not usually seen without close examination. Seeing it so deeply, I fell in love with the rose as I drew - with its beauty and budding claw, its blemish and pecularity.

Should people not be seen in this way too? With their particular characteristics, however strange or offensive on the surface. (Oh yes, they do spring to mind, don't they, and when they do, I try to picture them as newborns, before life has hardened them and stolen their beauty leaving only thorns.) We all came forth as beautiful buds, before the trials of life caused blemish and dropped petals. Often a wounded surface is abrasive. A tortured soul is one who projects and anger is symptomatic of pain and should be seen as a cry in the dark. The laughter of a clown belies fear and anxiety. As I drew, I meditated on these things, the art of seeing gives rise to the truth of what lies beneath.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

On the Shoulders of Giants


Soon after I wrote my last blog - 5 days later - I lost my dear father in law, John. In a way, we'd lost him a year before, as dementia took hold, to the extent that he forgot how to walk, and an operation left him in need of round the clock care. Dementia takes the mind and the body with it - it's a rapacious beast. We had just under a week of decline, a time that we were able to spend with him, holding his hands, cradling him talking to him, being there, present, with him. This past year of not being able to see him has been very hard, particularly for my husband, but small comfort has been taken in the fact that the stretches of time for him would not have had the significance for him as they did for us. His carers regaled me with stories, he was, and they said ‘a character.' Indeed he was, he was a man of great character, and of conviction. As a vicar in South Africa, he had to flee with his family in 1986, as he was on the wanted list of the South-African government. His crime? Praying with his black congregation against apartheid, As he later said, he wasn't trying to 'take a stand' he was just doing what he thought was right, what he felt convicted to do. But in South Africa, doing what was right could go very wrong for you indeed. But he would speak up if something needed to be said, and do something, if something needed doing - which didn't bode well for DIY projects - no one could actually screw up a screw like he could, but if something needed to be put right, he would do it. He also had a wicked sense of humour, and was an hilarious mimic - completely irreligious, and quite the mick taker. I used to call him the Irreverent (as opposed to Reverend for those unfamiliar with Anglican terms!) John Hillman. We had much in common, not least our political and social convictions - mine were also formed in South Africa, standing up to the police on behalf of black children - but our sense of the absurd was the same, and I will miss our robust theological debates.

Losing John has brought back memories of my own grandfather, also born in Liverpool, and similarly, a man of conviction. As a child he took me along to the children's homes where, as a lifelong member of TocH, he would show films. I remember his agonising over the political situation in the former Rhodesia, now #Zimbabwe. He had a strong social conscience and believed in majority rule, at a time when the minority were in power, and like John, and perhaps given their #workingclass upbringing, though Grandpa went to grammar school - the same one as John Lennon, another working class hero of mine - the same goonish sense of humour. I did not have my father in my life, but these 'fathers' of mine have left me an example of how to stand up and face situations, even when the majority are facing the other way. They both showed, in the examples of their own lives, that you didn't just ignore what was going on around you and live a comfortable life while others were suffering. You did something about it. Neither of these men had much cash to spare, but they were extraordinarily generous with what they had, and I think this generosity of spirit - this largesse - in every way, is what made their lives so meaningful, and so impacted the world around them. They left their mark, and I'm richer for them.


Sunday, 6 December 2020

Not Looking Out for Number One


This is a recent painting inspired by the 1c piece from Rhodesia, 1974 (now Zimbabwe) that I found in my studio recently. It’s a metre and a half tall and over half a metre wide and has the shades of bronze and copper that I am currently fixated with. I’m also preoccupied with value systems and what the numbers mean in our culture, and with what numbers, in this case, the number 1, can mean expressed in other ways; in and through individuals for instance. In our culture, people tend to look out for 'number one' or put themselves first - it's hard not to! - the pull of the culture is so strong. I like the expression of 1 as unity and oneness - the inscription states: We are one. 1 also expresses uniqueness, people are individual yet unique, but if we express love and empathy, we can still be one people, rather than peck at each other, which is out of order, as it were. My nana used to fondly call me number 2 as I was the second granddaughter. I didn't seem to mind. My sister was so desperate to be number 1 in all things that I was quite happy with my renegade 2ness. There is power in everyone and every number counts.

People always ask me what I'm reading. Currently, I have my nose in Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves, which is splendid, and I use that word deliberately. The book has helped me get the vernacular of the time, that I've needed to nail in my own soon to be released book, Big Men's Boots, The Truth, which is also set in the first world war. I'm also consuming the WW1 tomes in order to make my home in the trenches, if you catch my drift. I often find myself sobbing with indignation at the injustice of it all. It all seems so vivid still. I always read the bible - Paul's letters currently. And, gspel, I try to consume and exude the words of Jesus. I'm better at the consuming bit, but hoping some sort of transformation is taking place, in order to help the mankind that kindly exists alongside me. On that note, my home-educated kids are having a creative and thought-provoking and thought-airing lives. There is much creativity and debate that takes place in our house, as well as much silliness, and general comedy - all of us do comedic turns, and we are all daftly yet deftly entertained. I miss my number one (only as he was born first) son who is in London. Here he is as a fetching footman in Brigerton. It hardly bridges the gap but is better than not seeing him, albeit trussed up in a wig, pantaloons and tights. A far cry from his usual get up.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpIE4RnAkKU

Elsewhere in my life, I have begun teaching writing, which I haven't done - apart from a few workshops here and there - since I left the college I was teaching art (mainly drawing) and art and writing in a therapeutic context in, in 2009. I've had a delightful first group, and I'm thoroughly enjoying teaching. If you are interested in my courses or editing, publishing and marketing seminars please see subscription services at emilybarroso.co.uk 


Saturday, 7 November 2020

Reasons to #Write the #Times

I'm told that more people are taking up writing than ever before. This is not surprising given we are living through #unprecedented times. I write to make sense of the world and my place in it; to aid my mental health and as a way to #focus and meditate; and to take myself away from what I am going through and to put myself somewhere else, somewhere 'other.' Writing, I am convinced, makes one more empathetic, it is a way of imagining oneself as other, whatever form that #otherness might take. 

Writing steadies me and helps me keep charting my own course. Writing comes from the deep well of the imagination where our core selves reside, which is why it is sometimes hard to 'go there' but this is the place of authenticity and truth. Writing is a brave act, not a self-indulgent one, though I believe it leads to self-improvement.

As more of us take up writing, for reasons stemming from the personal to the professional, it can only have a positive effect and what is good for the individual, radiates good to the #community. Writing is also an act of gratitude. We write because we can because we are gloriously able to create. It's a life-affirming act in and of itself. We record our trials and tribulations, our sorrows, but also our #joys and our #triumphs. It's good to share.

Writing now will help you to take stock, manage your thoughts, and make sense of this strange world that we find ourselves inhabiting. You will also be keeping a record for the future: for the future you to look back on, and for your grandchildren or anyone else, who is going to be fortunate enough then, to look at the gems you scatter now.

Writing during these seasons of lockdown will help us feel less isolated, less alone, less of an enforced individual, and more of a group. Human beings are made for relationships. Writing gives us confidence and connection, and since we often write with an audience in mind, we will naturally seek one out. So seek out a reading, writing community to cheer you on.

Finally, writing is magical. You flick a switch and if you trust it, it's like turning on a tap. There is no muse required, just a childlike desire to explore and to build from there if you wish to. Just step out and see the rainbow, I encourage you to write during this time, even if this takes the form of #scribbling in a journal. You'll thank you for it. Now is the write time.


Starting to Write is a 4-week course for £37.50
14 November 2020 on Zoom at 11-12 pm
Subscription Courses www.emilybarroso.co.uk

Sunday, 25 October 2020

#Hansford&Sons #emergingartistplatform - Money for Nothing?

The online art market is exploding, and as it does so, individuals eager to part artists with their money are popping up quicker than you can say Eduardo Paolozzi – which most of them can’t. Like any artist who has only been painting with intent since 2018, apart from occasional painting bursts in the kitchen, I have been gratified by having been followed by art magazines and galleries via Instagram, and have had my work picked up for a Dutch website. I have also had a number of online organisations suggest I pay them to repost work on their websites, most of these are badly written, unprofessional and riddled with exclamation marks – a sure sign of what lies beneath, as it were; so when Lauren ‘S’, contacted me to say she loved my work and would I contact her, initially I was sceptical, but given I have not yet got round to getting my own website made,  the option of having my work up on a working website seemed an attractive option.

Hey Emily-Jane

I hope you’re ok!

I really loved your work on your page 😍 - so amazing!

I’d love to offer you a place on our Emerging Artist Platform 🎉

I work for Hansford and Sons Fine Art and I’d love you to be part of our team

If you’re interested let me know (I hope you are) and I can send more info! ☺️

Lauren

I looked at the Hansford & Sons Fine Art website, they did indeed appear to be art experts. I asked for more info…

Great! Here’s a little more info for you- It’s so exciting! ☺️What we do is create a page for you on our website (we have 20k unique visitors a month, not to mention our regular buyers) You can never have too much exposure, right? As well as this, we also offer artists the chance to exhibit at many of our exhibitions around the world and virtually. Also, coverage and promotions on all of our social media platforms! It’s really great at the moment ☺️ If you’re interested (which I hope you are) or would like anymore info then I can send you everything you need to know over email including how I can sign you up ☺️

Lauren

I Googled Hansford & Sons and found a ‘gallery’ in Great Portland St. Quelle Impressive! I know the Gt Portland St area well. Gt Portland St tube was my local station for 30 years, and I didn’t know about virtual offices until I began to find out more about Hansford & Sons. I asked for a phone meeting with Lauren, and though I was unsure about how much experience of the art world she had, she was enthusiastic, and so, emojis with heart eyes and the exclamation marks aside, I signed up, and opted for the £49.99 option rather than the £29.99 one, though I realised afterwards that given the uncertainty around the exhibition opportunities for both, the only difference was that I had the opportunity for unlimited uploads, and the commission if I sold anything, would be less - 15% rather than 20%. Incidentally, the artists I’ve spoken to were only charged £29.99, not £49.99.  I have since been sent a screenshot from another artist who recently paid £29.99 for the same commission (15%), so as it turned out I'd had been better off, by £20.00. And I'd be feeling a little less ripped off.

From 

Lauren’s email to me:

There are 2 annual payment options for our services: 

Basic: £29.99 - This will include exhibition opportunities, 5 new uploads per month and 20% commission on artwork sales.

Premium: £49.99 - This will include solo, group and virtual exhibition opportunities, Unlimited uploads, 15% commission on artwork sales.

Before we paid, my husband suggested I contact two friends who buy fine art to look at the company, in particular, my friend who had worked for a fine art shipping company, but unfortunately, I did not get round to that. I should have asked for terms and conditions since none were apparent on the website and Lauren did not provide me with any. I have since asked them on more than one occasion for them, and have yet to receive any. My first warning bell came when I paid my money to an ‘accounts team’ and received no confirmation of payment. I then heard nothing until I contacted Lauren to find out what was happening, whereupon I received a message saying that she had received notification from ‘the accounts team’ that my payment had been made. My page went up just under two weeks later, which is a lot quicker than some of the artists I've spoken to have experienced. Several of them have waited months from payment to page being up. They only seem to action anything if you trigger them - more on triggers, of which there are plenty, later.

At first sight, I was pleased with the way my page looked on the EAP platform, though they had not included some of the information I’d sent: key information that singles you out from the many artists (100s? 1000s?) they are quite possibly signing up, such as my exhibitions and social media details, so that people could look into me off-site. Also one of my paintings was upside down and despite my requests, they did not correct it – or update my details. Further, they had left work I’d sent off with no explanation as to why. I did not hear back from Lauren S or Deeksha H as to why this was when I messaged them. Not responding was, I felt, unprofessional. Deeksha H who put up my work on the EAP website, and made some initial changes, informed me that I could not post unlimited work as they had said when they took my cash, but could submit 5 pieces a week. Despite this being different to what I was told, as outlined above, I was unlikely to submit more work than that, so I was prepared to let it go. As it turned out, I did not actually get to submit any more work, and the first, limited set of work that I initially sent to Lauren to send on to Deeksha H, remained partially there, as did the upside-down painting. I tried, over several weeks, after painstakingly photographing and adding the necessary text for the images, to get the work that was left off up, and the first set of work corrected. I was also told to get further work to 'uploads' before the Wednesday of each week, but I was unable, over a two week period to get an email response from uploads, and seemingly, neither was Lauren when she sent work on for me. The fact that I was unable over two consecutive Wednesdays to get any response from 'uploads' much less any further uploads up at all, didn't bode well for any future transactions.

Had I received a generic message stating they were experiencing delays or some such communication, I would have perhaps been fine, instead I was told by Lauren that they were experiencing 'internet troubles' in ‘their area’- in London?  I’d also looked at some of the work being put up at the actual gallery in Stoney Stratford, Milton-Keynes and at some of the virtual exhibitions that they were putting up. I formed the opinion that some of the work was not really ready to be exhibited. I’d already had enough of EAP’s unprofessionalism and, after talking to another artist, who'd had a worse experience than me, I asked for a refund. Unsurprisingly, nothing much happened. Lauren stated she was ‘on vacation,’ though she seemed to be busy ‘putting up exhibitions’ and so on.  I was told that my refund request would be sent to the director, Jazz Jade and to contact her myself as well. Then the work I had sent went up (though my painting remained upside down and the key information about me remained off) despite my request to cancel my association with them. If this was how they handled my work, how would they handle any potential sales were my work ever be found on their website, amongst the many hundreds of works, unless I directed traffic there? I searched for 10 minutes the one day and found nothing.

During my brief association with them, I was unhappy with the whole Hansford & Sons operation. I would question their art expertise; they do not have an actual gallery in London but Stony the crows, there is a physical gallery Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes that features rolling exhibitions as well as solo virtual exhibitions. These seem to be run on a pot-luck basis. An artist who has shown there told me her work looked fine, though the prices were put up incorrectly. There is a virtual office with a messaging service and phone numbers that were never answered when I rang them. Another artist who exhibited at the Stony Stratford gallery had, as we say in Zimbabwe, one hell of a job trying to get his artwork back. After having difficulty making contact with them, he eventually managed to arrange a courier to go to the gallery to collect his work. In the message stream, I have seen between him and EAP he is advised that if “he needs help finding a cheap courier to let them know.” He duly arranged his own courier, but then spent a protracted period of time trying to engage them in sending his work. He did not hear from them until eventually, Jazz Jade told him that she wasn’t ignoring him, she’d had her bag stolen and that she had “only that day managed to get a new iPhone with a sim card in order to contact him.” I would have thought that any arts business would have a database of clients and not be reliant on one mobile phone's sim card? When his work arrived it was battered and torn, having only been wrapped thinly in bubble wrap with no cardboard. He took several photographs of the damage to his work and also the inadequate packing materials the gallery had used and I include them below.


When he complained, asking why his work had been sent as it was, he was told that he ‘had not paid for cardboard,' and that it was the courier’s fault and to contact them. They also showed him a contract that he says he had never seen nor signed, that they say they gave him at his exhibition. He is currently pursuing a claim through Trading Standards. Unsurprisingly, the artist is very upset and said that galleries usually have plenty of wrapping materials and that it was basic common sense not to send anything valuable with such poor protection. In my last communication with him, he told me that he remains disappointed, and cannot believe they are trying to get away with what they have done.


Hansford & Sons claim to be able to restore artwork, but they haven't offered to help him in any way shape or form. His paintings are now in very bad shape as you can see. He is still trying to get the company to respond to his messages and his requests for compensation. 

Meanwhile, after weeks of failing to contact Jazz Jade, regarding my refund request, I warned her that I was going to take action if they would not communicate with me regarding my refund. At the deadline I had given before I began action against them, I reported them and began contacting other artists to tell them of my disappointment. I also added the links to the howsmydealing website https://howsmydealing.com/2020/07/20/the-emerging-artist-platform/ (a website that catalogues the experiences that some artists have had with galleries and art businesses, including EAP) and to the professional bodies that deal with any possible illegal activities. Jazz Jade then became much more communicative than she had been previously. She sent me 3 lengthy provocative audio messages making comments about my children, my age, my work, and how she speculated I spent my time and what she was going to do. She said I would be hearing from her lawyers, for, what she claimed was, ‘defamation of character,’ if I did not stop telling other people about my experiences with EAP. I told Jazz Jade that I would not be silenced and repeated my request for a refund. The audio messages were deleted before I could play them to my husband that evening, but I have quite a few written messages in a similar vein in my possession. Take this one for example regarding the money I’d paid them to be on their site for the ten days I was up before I requested a refund. 

Wed, 7 Oct, 15:56  

 to me

“Darling your £50 wouldn’t even pay for my dog food... let alone my petrol. I have made great things happen for many artists and I’m so Jolly because despite your claims I will continue to do so! 

Make sure you fill out that form, that’s what you need to do try and get that £50 quid.” 

Good Luck! 

Here is the refund page to which she refers, which I filled out in detail, I included details of all the audio and written abuse I had received.www.emergingartistplatform.com/account-actions 

After giving my reasons for requesting a refund, I was told this by Jazz Jade: 

“Thank you for your comments but I do not need to take advise (her Misspelling) for a clearly begrudging individual. Your evidently desirous of the opportunities other artists on the platform have and this envy is causing you to be deliberately uncooperative.”

Of course, were I desirous of these ‘opportunities,’ I would have stuck around for longer than 10 days (not taking into account time between paying and actually being up on the platform). 

Jazz Jade

Apart from her interesting approach to business, Jazz Jade seems to have several personas. She advertises herself by turns as ‘the CEO’ ‘CHAIRWOMAN’, ‘ART APPRAISALS’ & ‘HEAD OF EMERGING ARTIST PLATFORM.’ She is also known as The Director of Hansford & Sons. Those capital letters are from the Hansford&Sons site, but the addresses given for Hansford & Sons in the capital of the UK appear to be postal or 'virtual offices, and, as I mentioned, any London gallery does not seem to exist. The Great Portland Street address looks to be a postal address. Her style of communicating to artists that EAP scout and whose work they appear to enthuse over and advertise that they want to help is unusual: “Did you think I was going to make you Pickarso,” she said to me on one of the audio messages. On her Instagram page (Missartcurator) Jazz Jade posts photograph after photograph of fine art, with comments such as:

missartcurator

“Stunning artwork unique piece from” #rogerhilton 

“This #sculpture is beautiful unique piece by” #albertogiacometti

“Astonishing piece of artwork from the great artist of all time #pablopicasso 

“Fantastic work from” #sandrabotticelli 

Botticelli might turn in his 510-year-old grave. May I suggest the nom de plume, Missrepresentor?



Hansford & Sons Website

I took a closer look at Hansford & Sons, the people they say work for them and their social media sites. The text on the H&S site is inconsistent, and some of it is identical to that on other art sites. The badly and error-ridden text littered with exclamation marks appears to be theirs. The rest gives a misleading impression, for example, if you click on ‘artists’ you will see people like Peter Blake, Barbara Hepworth and John Hoyland advertised to look as though they represent these artists, or at least, that they are in fact, bona fide, experts. But anyone would be bonkers to imagine the young women that work for Jazz Jade represent these world-class, famous artists. Their 'headquarters in Bloomsbury Way,' is shared with 820 other companies, given they are virtual offices that anyone can inexpensively hire. Here is what they claim about themselves:

They do have an extensive history of identifying emerging art pieces that appears to be getting more and more extensive and widespread as the volume of artists who have their details on their Instagram pages reveals. It is the manner of the identification procedure that I would question. They claim to have an ethos too, that in my opinion and experience, exceeds any realm of possibility.


They do indeed keep abreast of things, in terms of having identical wording to other Fine Art websites, that they attribute to themselves. Take this for instance, a page with identical wording to one on Momart’s website: 

And from Momart's website page: https://www.momart.com/services/art-storage I contacted Momart, who thanked me and said that they will be taking action.

Though they cannot manage any form of communication, they claim to be able to manage and catalogue art collections.


The video of the team (as in accounts, finance etc.,) could, I suspect, have been taken from stock photos. A number of people search the internet for new subscribers, apparently from their bedrooms. I researched all the staff there, and the only one that can be actualised is Jazz Jade. Matt exists, though he does not appear to work for the company anymore. Lauren, Misha, Ginny and Sarah et al, do not appear as members of ‘the team,’ though they apparently are, and have appeared at Hansford & Sons’ gallery in Middleton Stoney. Photographs on the Hansford & Sons website also look to having been taken from a stock photo library or other websites. I found the 'framing' section, to be particularly interesting. 

As for the #emergingartistwebsite, this is what they say about themselves: 



I believe that anyone who is prepared to pay the subscription fee can sign up. There is no handpicking. I believe the reason EAP ‘take care of promotion and sales’ is so that potential clients do not make contact with artists, for reasons that some artists are discovering.


An artist on the howsmydealingwebsite https://howsmydealing.com/2020/07/20/the-emerging-artist-platform/#comment-27801 wrote how they only discovered they had sold work when the person who said they had bought their art from EAP/H&S tracked them down to ask where the work they bought was. I’ve spoken to an artist who is many hundreds of pounds out of pocket. There are no testimonials on their website from happy customers, nor artists who have actually sold work, only subscribers who perhaps hope to be featured in the Stony Stratford gallery and notably, not one of them speaks of having actually sold any work. None of the many artists I have spoken to in connection with the platform have sold work and been paid for it. I know two of the artists on that Testimonial page. One is taking action against them. Another has expressed dismay at what he has since found out. Another artist friend was asked for a testimonial, she has since asked for her page to be taken down. These appear to have gone up since I joined; a system of damage control? 

Lucian Hector

Another person linked to Hansford & Sons according to information registered to at Companies House, is Lucian Hector, who is named as company director. Lucian Hector appears to have been involved with a number of companies. The bank I paid my subscription to is in Luxembourg. They also claim to know insurers in Switzerland. Why Switzerland? There are lots of ‘Independent Partners.’


Two of Lucian Hector’s former companies have been dissolved. Did the companies owe money? There was a business called Trust No One, which was registered to an address in Chiswick High Road. Another is called Power to Art, registered to an address in Woking which seems to be the only actual address - to a flat in Woking. On LinkedIn, Lucian Hector says he was educated in the Virgin Islands and has a Minor in Fine Art. This quote is also from his Linked In page: ‘'Others Have Seen What It Is And Asked Why. I Have Seen What It Could Be And Asked Why Not” - Pablo Picasso. He also happens to have the same name as the famous artist, Lucian Hector Jonas. Apparently, he also had links with a company called Mr Reem in Montpelier St in London. I wonder if the gallery in Stoney Stratford is in good financial order?



My hunch is that Lucian Hector, Jazz Jade and no surnames and co. are trying to get as many artists as possible to pay subscription fees. I wonder about the emergingartisplatform's "20k unique visitors a month, not to mention our regular buyers," that Lauren told me about. There is a section on their website for Middle Eastern Investors. “We Believe Opening Up This Side of The Art Market and Making Middle Eastern Cultures Aware That There Is Money To Be Made By Investing Into Post War Modern British Art.” But there is money there, and they want some of it, though I doubt they’ll be seeing much of it despite their 'deep understanding they has carved out,' (sic.) People with the kind of cash they hope for would go straight to Christie’s, for example, unless they’re daft, which I think not. But then I don’t claim to be an expert despite having actually studied art

Hansford & Sons don't, in my opinion, live up to their claim to be experts. I’ve been in touch with multiple artists who have grievances with EAP. There are artists whose clients did not receive work they paid for and artists who were not paid for work sold. I did finally discover an artist who lives near the Milton Keynes gallery, who has sold work after exhibiting there, and been paid for work sold. I asked her if she has proof as to whether the clients actually received her work. She did not reply. It’s easier for unscrupulous businesses to take advantage of artists living abroad or further away. When artists have tried to get recompense they are likely to get the same reaction I did. Indeed an artist that is owed money was also told, as I was, that she would be done 'for defamation of character,' after a number of false accusations were made about them (the artist). An artist I know has been left suffering from anxiety and stress and another wept when they saw the condition of returned work. Given the £30/£50 per subscription, not many would take their cases to court. Others are in a far worse boat than me as I think I have illustrated. It seems immoral to me, and quite possibly illegal. Hansford & Sons (who the deuce are the ‘sons’? Answer: There are none; daughters would have been a better noun,) are canny in that they have a small gallery in a nondescript part of England and they provide a ‘service’ of sorts. I received a sympathetic email from Trading Standards, so they are aware of them, as are the police, but I will update them now that I have received an update on my refund from them, (see below) but given this is deemed a ‘business to business’ transaction there is not much that can be done in my, comparatively mild case, though no-one enjoys spending money and getting nothing for that money, and being treated as I have outlined to boot. These are Jazz Jade's responses to my refund request:

"Your refund request has been denied. You will be receiving an email shortly explaining the reasons for our decision, so kindly pass that on to ‘trading standards’. Best Wishes" (No name as to who sent this but I’m guessing Jazz sent it). 

Late last Saturday night, I received a list of reasons as to why my refund was being denied. I was told my reasons for requesting a refund were all 'false or sophistry' though I simply outlined my experience for which I have all the emails and messages. Various untrue accusations were made about me as well as threats. Other artists have received similar responses and accusations when making complaints. Just to be clear, I have not bullied any staff, unless politely requesting a refund is considering bullying.

PLEASE NOTE

This decision is final and if ANY of our team members receive any form of contact from you we will be reporting you to the police for harassment. Bullying of our staff WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

Yours Sincerely

Julian 

EAP (All capital letters are EAPs; my guess is 'Julian' is another of Jazz Jade's personas)

Many subscribers come from abroad, where it is harder to seek recompense or refunds for stolen work or fees not paid to artists and clients. From what I understand, some artists in the UK aren’t having much luck either retrieving refunds or getting paid for work sold. However, if enough affected artists report Hansford & Sons/EAP to the police via Action Fraud, and to other relevant professional bodies, they might eventually be compelled to act. I wrote this to expose Hansford & Sons for who I feel they really are and because I have been in contact with artists who are very upset about it indeed. I hope other artists might be saved the stress I've suffered during this experience and all the time it has taken up. Artists abroad who think they have representation via experts from London should investigate further. A fine idea they may well be getting about the UK art market.

Sadly, art scams are becoming more and more prolific. An artist friend whom I met researching Hansford & Sons has experienced dubious operations in London, Portugal and the USA. Her advice is to always check the fine print EAP, I have not seen any. Never pay to display, particularly when commissions, sometimes as much as 30% are on top. Never send work anywhere unless money has cleared in the bank.  Also beware of 'vanity galleries,' or publications that offer to advertise you; they are looking for you to pay for advertising space. Agora and Vogue amongst them. My advice? Bide your time, hone your craft and wait until you are ready to show - be clear-eyed about where you are, and about the art market in general. If you’re asked to pay, stay away. Can you imagine any legitimate gallery in London asking you to pay a fee to show your work? Meanwhile, as artists, we need to spread the word. The fact that Hansford & Sons/EAP repost work on Instagram and have ‘virtual galleries’ and a gallery in Milton Keynes, may well be enough for some artists desperate to get a foothold in a saturated market, but artists, do you want people who misrepresent themselves to represent you?

Please see this site for more information: https://howsmydealing.com/2020/07/20/the-emerging-artist-platform/

confidential.com

If you have been affected by any art scams please contact:

Action Fraud 

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Metropolitan Police

https://www.met.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/

Insolvency Service 

https://www.insolvencydirect.bis.gov.uk/externalonlineforms/CompanyComplaint.aspx?fbclid=IwAR3YGXu5A4g3YpECtpYRpmTQQQ7PvpVqfYIODOQ5RdpJOsAog4jiOU6BzdA

Court Action can be taken here: https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money

I can be contacted here: www.emilybarroso.com

Twitter @emilybarroso1

Instagram for more updates on art news @emilyjanehillman