Axisweb has been supporting the Nottingham Castle Open for the past 3 years. Axisweb is a leading online resource for information about contemporary art and features profiles of professional artists and curators alongside a comprehensive opportunities and enquiries service. This year the prize of One Year’s Free Membership to Axisweb will be awarded to one exhibitor selected for this years Nottingham Castle Open.
[Colette Griffin] Axisweb is a directory and essential artist tool. Can you expand on this and the benefits of becoming a member or indeed winning one year’s free membership of Axisweb?
[Axisweb] Artists need an audience and that's what we provide. Artists, curators and writers profile their projects on Axisweb because they know it's the place to be seen. There have been nearly 300,000 member profile views since we re-launched our site last year, and about 36% of our users are international.
Curators, commissioners and researchers rely on the site because it's selective – they know that it's an authoritative source of information about UK artists and other art professionals doing interesting things.
Membership gives you access to our amazing opportunities noticeboard, which is carefully researched, very easy to sort through and often lists up to 250 opportunities at one time. In the background we're also passing on a steady stream of enquiries about purchases, commissions and exhibitions.
Obviously most artists have their own website these days. But I can't emphasise enough the value of having a presence on a site like ours, especially if you invest time in keeping your profile up-to-date. It's an extra showcase that makes your work available to people who don't already know it.
How do you go about making your selection each year?
The standard of work in the Nottingham Castle Open is always high, so it's never an easy task. I guess we look for work that's distinctive and well realised – an 'original voice' if you like. We're also aware of where people are in their career, as we like to choose an artist who can really benefit from the exposure that a site like Axisweb provides.
As a prize, one year’s free membership of Axisweb is unlike any of the other accolades given by other sponsors. How does it excel as a prize and what can it bring to its recipients by means of opportunities and as a platform for professional development?
The web now plays an important part in the process of exposure and validation by which artists make their reputation. It's a vital presentational space and marketplace, which nobody can afford to ignore.
Besides offering artists a promotional platform with a ready-made audience, we commission interviews and films that focus on our members – features like our Artist of the Month or our weekly 'Five2Watch' on social media. We also run professional development workshops and represent our members at art fairs and other events. For example, recent members' road-shows with Louisa Buck and Tom Morton have focused on how to write a good artist's statement.
Why did Axisweb first decide to become a sponsor of the Nottingham Castle Open and when was this relationship first established?
This is the third time we've sponsored the Nottingham Castle Open. I guess our involvement came about as a result of making films to support Nottingham Castle's exhibitions programme, Painter, Painter: Dan Perfect, Fiona Rae being the most recent example. We have developed a great respect for the curatorial team at Nottingham Castle and wanted to support them in making the Open exhibition a success, and of course supporting visual artists.
From the point of view of a sponsor what is your impression of the Nottingham Castle Open as an exhibition, and of its merits as a showcase of local talent? Do you think it is unique in what provides for the participating artists and is that something that ties in with your mission statement?
We love the democratic nature of the 'open' format, the fact that anyone can take their chance and expect a fair hearing. Our director Sheila McGregor was a judge two years ago, so she knows at first-hand how seriously the panel approach their responsibilities and also what fun it is to take part in such a surprising and unpredictable selection process.
What really makes Nottingham Castle stand out are its productions values: from the website to the final display, everything is done to the highest possible standard. It's got to be one of the very best open exhibitions in the UK. And our involvement as a sponsor accords perfectly with our charitable mission, which is “to advance the education of the public” by promoting the understanding and appreciation of the visual arts.
Colette Griffin Exhibitions & Visual Arts Assistant Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery