Most of my life was spent in Italy surrounded by Giotto’s frescoes, paintings by Piero della Francesco, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, archaeological ruins and works by numerous modern to contemporary artists such as Boccioni, Balla, Severini, Morandi, De Chirico, Schifano, Burri, Guttuso, and countless others. This can’t but influence someone’s cultural makeup and imaginarium. Italy is a country that is one visual performance or show after another, everywhere from north to south. For centuries and centuries Italy has been the patria of countless works of art, going back to the Etruscans and even further back to the artefacts of the Bronze Age, not to mention Roman art. This immense patrimony and cultural heritage is still with me in my dreams at night and when I look at an artwork or talk to an artist, even though I was born and educated in Boston. Now in Cornwall, I breathe another type of cultural heritage, supported by the numerous artists and writers who live and thrive in this varied community. It, too, has its fascination for the arts. What is exciting is that the art community here is finally waking up and rebelling against the past apathy and lack of creativity after the period of the St Ives School. People are talking more and more about its revival or of a new St Ives era, of which the New Art Examiner is playing its part.
The art world is desperately in need of writers and art critics. What it doesn’t need is people who write boring press releases that nobody reads, promoting exhibitions which glorify artists’ work. Try and read one; they are almost all the same with their endless repetition of flowery words of praise. If no one really writes about the visual arts, about the “good, the bad, and the ugly”, our art world as we know it will die out, doomed to eternal extinction with just the finance sector of the art world thriving with its money laundering avenues.
My job as publisher is to look after my writers, who are precious resources for the art world and also work on the expansion of the magazine, finding more venues for readership, writers, and at the same time, funding opportunities. As our writers are dispersed around the world, (NYC, Washington DC, Chicago, Toronto, Paris, London, Cornwall, Warsaw, Leipzig, Berlin, Madrid, Belgrade, the Seychelles, and more), it means that correspondence with each writer is essential in order to maintain a dialogue and a feeling of team. The writers’ meetings are very valuable to the writers, as they receive immediate feedback on their reviews and support for their courageous work. It isn’t always easy to tell the world one’s opinion, often not in line with what the institutions are tending to the public. We aren’t all Derek Guthrie, though we try to learn from his vast experience and fearless attitude.
Our writers’ meeting in Penzance has grown so numerous that we are starting another one in St Ives with Mary Fletcher, in Bodmin with Daniel Nanavati and one in Toronto with Olga Korper and Miklos Legrady. I count on starting other writers’ meetings in Chicago and in Italy before the year ends. Now we are waiting for a review from a new writer in Hong Kong….
There’s a feeling of, it’s a new day for the New Art Examiner!
Each issue the New Art Examiner will invite a well-known, or not so well-known, art world personality to write a speakeasy essay on a topic of interest. Pendery Weekes is a Boston born traveller and writer who lived and worked in Italy for most of her career. She is now based in Penzance, Cornwall where she runs the New Art Examiner writers’ groups, tends her garden and swims all year round.