Ceri Hand Gallery to leave Liverpool

23Nov11

Ceri Hand Gallery.

It is hugely saddening to discover that Ceri Hand is relocating to London. The past year has seen much change in the city with the closure of A Foundation at the beginning of 2011, the stepping down of leading figures in key organisations and the loss of jobs at the Bluecoat. All this on the back of a hugely succesful City of Culture year, launch of Open Eye Gallery and Museum of Liverpool and major investment in the city’s retail offer. The Royal Standard continues to do interesting stuff but it feels as though the city that was just finding it’s confidence again has had the wind blown out of her sails a bit by the current economic situation.

Ceri Hands’ decision to relocate is a big worry for the arts infrastructure outside of London as it sends out a message that the market for contemporary art no longer exists outside of the capital and could signpost a move back 20 years for artists. Artists need to sell work in order to survive and to do that outside of London we need commercial galleries that will nurture, support and sell. Sorcha Dallas’ decision to refocus her organisation in Glasgow has meant her gallery has closed and again this is a huge blow although she continues to operate and work with artists in the city.

A recent visit to Frieze Art Fair in London showed the extremes at play in the British Art scene. Frieze was packed with visitors willing to spend a substantial amount to see contemporary art. There was a queue to get in. This was in marked contrast to the Manchester Contemporary.

My worry is that we are seeing the tip of an iceberg as the centres of art production are forced to return to the south east in search of an audience. Of course there are plenty of good news stories: Turner Prize at Baltic, Hepworth and Turner Contemporary have phenomenal visitor figures in their opening months, but how does this translate into money in artists’ pockets?

I don’t have the answers of course and I could be wrong, in fact, I hope I am wrong. I can’t help thinking that we may be in for a rough time over the coming months and may see more losses to the regional arts ecologies that have taken so long to build up.

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3 Responses to “Ceri Hand Gallery to leave Liverpool”

  1. It is sad when regional galleries relocate. However, the Market is clearly in the major cities in the world and contemporary art galleries have to look at the global market. It’s so niche the domestic Market is barely sustainable at that level. So I don’t blame Ceri for moving. What is important though is that galleries don’t stop looking outside the M25 for their artists. If that does happen we would indeed be in big trouble.

  2. Yep it’s tough and when I read of Ceri Hand’s relocation to London I came to the same conclusion as you have. I have found myself wondering how much more difficult or easy it might be to get support from commercial galleries outside the UK. Transport costs for artists like me (making 3D works) would be higher but if it meant getting your work seen and sold then it would be an investment.

  3. I too have mixed feelings about the relocation. I moved to London a several years ago to do post graduate study and to generally hang around the London art scene. This has been successful, to a certain extent, but I have become slightly jaded by living in this city and I have been looking towards more regional activities as it seems there are many more successful and exciting projects, spaces and galleries operating all over the country. I am obviously pleased that the success of Ceri Hand has meant a move to London and look forward to being able to visit the gallery even though the artists represented are regularly exhibiting in and around London anyway. I just worry that London will become even more saturated with artists and galleries whilst more regional areas lose out on this experience though examples such as Turner Contemporary in Margate would suggest there is art life beyond the M25 even during this economic climate.


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