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Rose Finn-Kelcey – ‘Most Artists Don’t Make Money’ | Artist Interview | TateShots


[Beep] I think it’s important to be mischievous If there isn’t any humour in the work then I feel something’s wrong>Rose Finn-Kelcey was an artist. She was
born in 1945 and I died in 2014 The nature of work that Rose Finn-Kelcey
made throughout her career was very diverse Its diverse in terms of subject
and also style. I mean this is work that in a way is recognisably by one artist.
It has a consistent vision to it but in another way it could almost be made by
any number of different artists>She was interested in using a whole range of materials. Very rarely did she come back to using a material again and again So there was an engagement really with ideas at the core of everything she made,
and then thinking about how materials could best express what she wanted to
communicate>She is a very substantial artist But her status, like the status of
so many artists, is one that’s defined by the marketplace. And if you’re an artist
making work that is installation based or performance based then it’s very
difficult for work such as that to be traded And that is also a very
conscious decision And I think that’s something that’s at the heart of her work ‘Bureau de Change’ It’s about artistic value but it’s also about
financial value as well>I was trying to find ways of using money in my work and it was at the time that the Van Gogh Sunflower sale happened And it seemed such a good combination of
conceptual and material Well when I first heard the
news I thought well twenty four million five hundred, what is that, I mean it
was so abstract to me I couldn’t understand what it even looked like and I also felt that here was I struggling for years making
artworks without actually ever getting paid properly And there’s
something very ludicrous about the fact that this painting had reached
that kind of sum of money when in fact most artists just don’t make money out
of their work I mean a lot of the coins are actually quite dirty and they really
reflect the fact that money has been in circulation in has past through
people’s hands and once the piece is finished the money has to be bagged up
and taken back to the bank and it also goes back into people’s pockets So I’ve already done it four times before, which means there are people across the
country who have fragments of the sunflowers unwittingly>Rose had a very
dry wit and I think in her work she used that as a way to allow people
to come in who weren’t necessarily part of the art world and also as
an access point for people to think about things which were much
deeper and more profound>’It Pays to Pray’, they’re all chocolate
vending machines and I wanted them to vend prayers but prayers that I had
written and I thought well you go to a chocolate vending machine when your
blood sugar level is low so you also pray when your spiritual level is low. So
I wanted to make that connection There was a time when artists were very
frightened of even using the word spiritual and I think that now it’s not
something that people are terrified of I think it’s something that they are
questioning: what’s going on here? Why are we here?>She was very much involved with different forms of political activism,
social activism. An early work of hers was a very large set of flags that were
installed at Battersea Power Station>I was really interested in putting
messages in public spaces at that time and that was in the
early 70s when the ‘Power to the People’ slogan was very much talked about in
the newspaper. I took that slogan and changed one word so it read ‘Power for the People’. There was all sorts of problems with the people living in Chelsea
complaining that that they were sending out a political message and I was saying
but that’s what they produce So yes, there is a political slant to the
work>She really typifies a whole generation of artists who came to the
fore in the 60s and 70s especially who were interested, not in objects but in
maybe events and things that were transitory>I like the fact that it’s
ephemeral, I like the fact that it doesn’t last beyond the time that it’s
actually there. It does at the same time seem important for me to let go of what
I’ve done and what I know from previous pieces it’s a problem in the art world
because people want to see repeats or they want to see some kind of style that
that is representative an artist and I tend not to fit into that>I think her work is more poignant now than perhaps it was at the time. I see it as being
extremely relevant to where we are at this point, whether that’s themes to do with
ecology, themes to do with power, activism spirituality. So I really hope she gets
the recognition that she deserves because I think her work really speaks to people

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