Charlotte Morris talks to Sally Meakins
Charlotte Morris talks to Sally Meakins

I am a beneficiary of the first step of an initiative called ‘Rising Talent’. Last year I responded to an invitation to submit work for an exhibition advertised as ‘free to all young and emerging artists who would like to exhibit their work’. I was fortunate enough to have my work included in last year’s exhibition and this year I, along with one other of last year’s ‘intake’, have been invited by Sally Meakins, Head of Exhibitions at Hastings Arts Forum, to exhibit in this year’s Rising Talent show.

I visited Sally at the gallery this week to discuss the work that I will be including in the show and took the opportunity to ask her more about Rising Talent, where it came from and where it might be going.

I asked her how the idea of Rising Talent had come about and she said, “I have always wanted to give young and emerging artists an opportunity that they would not necessarily get anywhere else, to show their work in a commercial gallery and the experience that goes along with that. We put a call out for artists who have never exhibited ‘professionally’ before and who want to take up this opportunity to have their work selected for a group show – and at no charge.  We think this may be a unique opportunity as artists can exhibit for free and the work is for sale.  We do however take a commission on sales. To make sure we engage a large audience, the show will be widely publicised.”

When I asked her whether a submitting artist’s background made any difference – a factor that has always discouraged me in the past as I don’t have an art degree – she made it clear that it made no difference at all.  “We specifically do not ask about an artist’s background or pedigree, submissions are judged solely on the quality and developmental potential of the work.”

When I asked her whether the selection panel were looking for a variety of work, she confirmed that was the aim, “however, due to space there may be a difficulty with a very large installation, for instance, but we are open to proposals.  We are looking to feature the work of between six and eight artists.”

“We will involve the artist in decisions on how their work will be presented, they will collaborate with the curator so that their wishes are considered within the overall look of the show.”

In answer to my final question, “how do you mentor and encourage emerging artists who will be exhibiting in a professional environment for the first time?” Sally explained, “we do this on a very individual basis depending on what kind of support an artist requires.  This will come out in conversation.  Some people will want some technical advice and we can link them up with someone who can help and sometimes just discussing the work and the direction they want to go in is what is needed.  It’s all about learning and sharing.”

To find out more about Hastings Arts Forum Rising Talent show and how to apply visit www.hastingsartsforum.co.uk/rising-talent-young-and-emerging-artists/ or email exhibitions@hastinsgartsforum.co.uk putting Rising Talent in the subject header.