New Work – Amanda Jackson

If you’ve spent any time in the gallery, you’ll have heard yours truly joke that karma sent him back as an art dealer.

100% this is false modesty.

This is the best job in the world. Come the apocalypse, if the Gods have clapped their hands and outlawed art galleries, there’s a strong chance you’d find me curating something somewhere.

Amanda Jackson’s The Little Star
Artist Amanda Jackson, who came to visit us last week

A lot of this comes from a strong sense of righteous anger. (Continuing the apocalyptic, Biblical allusions – and you thought you came here for an Amanda Jackson post).

I’ve forgotten the last time I walked into a cinema and wanted to watch every single film on the programme. Likewise, I can’t remember the last album that was so impossibly good I couldn’t wait to play it again.

And yet… this wasn’t always the case.

Great artists used to be titans.

You can draw a straight line from Frank Sinatra’s seminal Sinatra At The Sands to it’s conductor Quincy Jones and the albums he produced for Michael Jackson.

L to R: Quincy Jones, Count Basie and Frank Sinatra

Remember when albums used to sell in the tens of millions? Because with combined sales of 120m for Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad, Quincy Jones sure does.

Films were the same. There were films that everybody HAD to see, that would play in cinemas for months at a time that you’d see more than once.

Laugh all you want, but Titanic’s 15 weeks at number one at the US Box Office weren’t a fluke or a mistake. Look at any other film James Cameron directed prior to 1997 and you’ll realise there was a good reason that film was as tight as a drum and those 195 minutes flew by.

These guys all saw Titanic twice and so did you

Whether it was film, literature or music, great work didn’t happen by accident; it happened by design.

Then, at some point, it all stopped.

“All killer and no filler” became an impossible aspiration rather than an achievable reality. Before we knew it, everything got really fucking mediocre and we were expected to be… grateful for it?

In recent years, the entertainment industry – that most commercially weaponised, pro Reaganomics subset of the arts – has invariably blamed streaming and downloads, citing kids who “just consume media differently these days” as if a more casual relationship with content demands a far more casual relationship with quality.

This industry executive is thinking about some of the great decisions he’s made

Well, that’s a two way street, pal, and yet at no point has the entertainment industry seriously considered that it’s quite possibly the other fucking way around.

Riddle me this: From 2000 to 2009, which group had the number one selling album in the US charts?

Yup

3 decades after they’d split up, The Beatles 1) still had all the best songs, and 2) were still at number one.

Pictured: Cause And Effect

Now, I get that there’s an incredibly cynical argument to be made for snatching second place with a concocted, contrived load of old shit rather than having any, y’know, actual good songs. How terribly clever, etc.

But you know why that’s a really shitty argument?

Because in another 30 years time, nobody is going to be talking about Nora Jones or ’NSync.

Nobody’s going to remember where they were when ‘NSync broke up. Noone’s going to walk their daughter up the aisle to anything off The Martial Mathers LP. (Unless they’re, like, super fucked up or something and also into historical white rap).

The Beatles, however? You bet your life on it.

Hail, Satan!

Funnily enough, if there’s an industry that bucked the trend of diminishing cultural returns, it’s been restaurants.

British food was an absolute shambles as recently as 15 or 20 years ago.

Off the top of my head, I can now name 20 restaurants within three miles of where I’m sat that are amongst the very best in the world.

And how?

Because British chefs got excited, they got passionate, they redefined what craft could mean, they worked insanely, impossibly hard, got really, really good and became the envy of the world.

Whether it’s Neil Rankin (pictured) Shaun Searley, James Knappett, Lee Tiernan, Elizabeth Haigh or John Chantarasak… just go and eat their food already

So whether you’re a first generation Italian immigrant (Frank Sinatra) the grandson of an honest to goodness actual slave (Quincy Jones) any of the crowd of chefs who bought British food back from the brink or even 4 guys from the wreckage of post-war Liverpool, my point is…

…that great work is indeed possible.

It feels like it shouldn’t need pointing out. And yet it does, now more than ever.

(NB. 100% there’s a discussion to be had regarding whether growing up tested by hardship better equips you to flourish creatively than being spoilt rotten like, say, Justin Bieber. As that little shit is the sonic equivalent of cancer and I’m already at 1,000 words, I think that’s best saved for another day).

Nope

At the top of this post I mentioned this job being the best job in the world. Our artists and their dedication to great work are a huge part of that.

The drive, the desire; continually honing their craft, never resting on their laurels.

Artist Amanda Jackson
Amanda Jackson’s Dreaming

Artist Amanda Jackson came to see us last week and bought some beautiful new work with her.

Treasures, each and every one of them and a timely reminder that there really is no substitute for care and attention.

Amanda Jackson’s Scarlet Beautiful
Amanda, with two of her paintings

New Work – Amanda Jackson. Available to view on online and in our brand new St.Katharine Docks gallery. Get in touch via e-mail or on +44 (0)207 481 1199

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