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SHIFT workshop about writing with Mike Pinnington and Laura Robertson

In the beginning of April SHIFT mentoring program was pleased to receive two international arts critics from the UK to lead a workshop about arts writing. Freelance arts critic Laura Robertson and Tate Liverpool‘s content editor Mike Pinnington founded The Double Negative magazine in 2011. As a respected art journal it offers a platform for contemporary arts criticism and practice from across the UK.

Since 2013 Pinnington has been working at Tate Liverpool where he is responsible for shaping the way the institution talks to its audience both in and beyond the gallery. He is a trained journalist who has written freelance e.g. for The Art Newspaper, The Guardian, Aesthetica Magazine, Garageland Magazine, and a-n news. Pinnington has guest lectured at various universities. As a freelance arts critic Laura Robertson writes for national and international art magazines e.g. ArtReview, Art Monthlya-n news, and Frieze. She is the author/editor of two books: On Being Curious: New Critical Writing on Contemporary Art From the North-West of England (2016), and The Designist (2012), and teaches arts writing and professional practice at various art schools.

For the workshop all the SHIFT participants wrote short artist statements describing their practice. The internet is full of guides how to start, what words to use, what to include and exclude, and who to write to. For example, Gilda Williams, lecturer at Goldsmiths College and Sotheby’s Institute of Art, has written an insightful book How to Write About Contemporary Art, that teaches the reader how to write and think clearly about art. However, one cannot compare reading a book to actually receiving constructive feedback from professional art writers, and the support and notions one receives from other artists and colleagues. During the workshop we had a chance to go through everybody’s statements, to think together how to improve them and received instructions how to rewrite the first versions. Thank you so much Laura and Mike for the inspiring day!

Writing about one’s own artworks and practice is challenging. Having a dialogue with other artist and art experts, sharing examples and knowledge, good and bad experiences from which to learn, is something that we encourage at the SHIFT program. The program continues in May when we talk about arts and culture journalism and media in Finland with the editor-in-chief for culture in the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), Satu Nurmio.