Art has taken on a new meaning at the Oxfam Cotham Hill Bookshop. As well as selling books about art, we are now selling art itself. Paintings, sculptures, photography and more will be exhibited and for sale in our shop over the months and, we hope, years to come.
The relationship between fine art and the real world could be the subject of many blog entries in itself. Some art is realistic, some idealistic, some politically influential and some detached and even created with nonchalance. However, the truth is that art is never entirely detached, it is always influenced by the experiences of the artist and, depending on whose eyes fall on it, can itself influence the world in the strangest of ways.
Artists are certainly known to affect each other. Delacroix’ Liberty Leading The People inspired Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from France to the United States. More importantly, both of these works have influenced people at large. They reinforced a sense of patriotism among many French and Americans respectively, especially the latter. Bartholdi’s enormous sculpture is undoubtedly a piece of fine art, in both senses of the term, yet it is known more as a political statement. Placed on Liberty Island in New York Harbour it is a universally recognised image that is seen to represent the strength of its home country, the right to liberty and the notion of equity for all who disembark onto American soil.
'Liberty Leading the People' by Eugene Delacroix
'Statue of Liberty' by Frederic Bartholdi
It is this notion of equity which brings us to the relationship between art and Oxfam, at least on Cotham Hill. More usually expressed as the aim to reduce poverty around the world, Oxfam’s purpose is to give life changing opportunities to impoverished groups and individuals. It is to allow them to achieve an independent life style in which they are not trapped by being placed at the wrong end of the financial extremes. Oxfam is about nurturing equity.
Because of the immediacy of Oxfam’s work – there are over 1 billion people in absolute poverty today – making a political statement is not the most effective way that one bookshop can use art. Instead, we decided that selling it is. It is claimed that Bristol has the highest number of artists per capita in the country and it certainly has its fair share of art trails and art lovers, on the last count there were at least seven art trails taking place in the city each year. So what better place to sell art and raise money to reduce poverty?
Each month we will be exhibiting the work of a different artist. Sometimes there will be a complimentary artist’s work on show as well. The important thing is that all of them will be sold at a realistic price and at least thirty per cent of the money raised will go directly to Oxfam. We would like to make it higher, but it would be a bit hypocritical to drive the artists into poverty.
'Sleeping Female' by Norma Rowe
The first artist to exhibit at Oxfam Cotham Hill Bookshop is Norma Rowe. Based in Henleaze, just a stone’s throw (or two) away from Cotham, Norma’s art work is partly influenced by folk culture. The series of magpie tree paintings are each entitled after what they represent in the magpie nursery rhyme, ‘One For Sorrow’, ”Two For Joy’ and so on. The bronze resin and ceramic sculptures are expressive studies of the human form which you can not help but react to.
A big thank you goes out to Norma and to all the other artists who have agreed to show their work in our shop.
'Three For a Girl' by Norma Rowe.
To find out more about Norma and her work you can go to her website at www.normarowe.co.uk.
If you would like to exhibit and sell your art work in our shop then e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org