Collecting the Emerging: UCL Art Museum and the Zabludowicz Collection
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Collecting the Emerging: UCL Art Museum and the Zabludowicz Collection

We have this image of emerging and then
having emerged, as when used to make you sort of debut in society. As a young
girl or something you’re a debutante and then you come out and then you’re there, you’re out, basically – I don’t think it’s that simple. It’s not something that you’re necessarily in control of? I suppose you do somehow have to exist in the world – you can’t live in a vacuum; if you don’t show your things to anyone, then no one’s going to see them. Emerging as an artist, I think, is quite a
complicated term because it’s often used by the contemporary art world, often
the market tie side of the contemporary art world,
as an artist who is coming out of art school, one to watch, beginning to make things and start to be collected, perhaps. There are different models for an art career, that it’s not always about leaving college and then being picked up
by a gallery and then being at Frieze in the space of five years and having a
solo show at an institution. Practises and artists work at different paces, with
different rhythms, in different kinds of contexts, and there are all sorts of
different ways to have a successful practice. And some of them are very
dominant, and some of them aren’t, but they’re all ways of making really good
work that has a visibility and reaches the audiences that it should reach. There are major players that influence what we come to think of as emerging art or
emerging artists. Starting with art schools, followed by artist-run spaces,
journals, magazines, writers, curators, collectors and galleries, followed by
auction houses – the list goes on. All of these external factors – you’re not really
in control of anyway, so if you can shift your idea of what being successful means to something that is more than your hands, then I
think you can be happier as an artist. I think the term ‘emerging’ is useful often within the kind of current environment of the art market, which is – I mean, over the last 25 and 30 years, it has burgeoned asa a commercial environment, so you often have galleries that seek to represent emerging artists, you often have collectors that are looking to extend their collection by speculating on young
emerging artists, but the term does become a bit of a signal, which then
operates within a commercial context, and I think for artists themselves, while it
can be useful for helping them identify themselves, it doesn’t necessarily become useful in terms of their own practice. In lots of ways, artists start making work
and then they spend their life time developing that work, and then through
that lifelong endeavor they extend and sophisticate everything that they do. The way in which that relates then to the market will vary a lot in terms of the kinds of
work they pick, and also perhaps their own personal position. The Zabludowicz collection is a
collection that was founded by the Zabludowicz family in the mid-1990s, and it was established as a philanthropic endeavour. Whilst we
acquire work, and through the process of acquiring work that does mean that we
have an effect on the market and the market has an effect on us and that kind
of changes the price of their work, potentially, we don’t acquire work in order
to sell it, so most of the work that we acquire stays in the collection. I’ve seen the art world transform actually since I graduated as a student in the early 90s. The culture at the art market has really
exploded over that time and had a great effect on, perhaps the expectations of
some artists – I think some artists think they should be doing certain things as
they come out of art school. These things can happen a bit too quickly sometimes. If you can pace yourself, if you can slow down this kind of sense of emerging,
then maybe you can you can keep emerging and you can always be in that sort of state, perhaps, which I think can be positive.

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