Glass interviews Mathew Burrows of Artist Support Pledge helping artists during Covid-19

THE hashtag #Artistsupportpledge has become a global movement to support artists struggling during Covid-19. The concept is simple  – artists post pictures of their works for sale on Instagram using the hashtag #artistsupportpledge (ASP). Every time an artist makes £1,000 in sales, they then pledge to purchase the work of another artist participating in the pledge, for £200. Any artist can take part, and anyone can purchase the art.

Sussex-based artist, Mathew Burrows started the initiative with the aim to create a small and dynamic market to replace art fairs and galleries which are now closed due to Covid-19. Burrows tells Glass that he aimed to create a “virtual gallery”, where anyone can buy art by sending artists DMs on Instagram.

Jonathan Lawes, Print

Surpassing expectations the pledge has now gone global, with 23,000 posts and growing. The trust-based system is described by Burrows as “an act of generosity to take part” but one that is “accessible to so many”. With a collection of established and lesser-known artists now taking part, Burrows describes it as “a real leveller” – helping artists from any background in a network that allows artists to be patrons too. The pledge also offers means to help others during this crisis, artists can make donations, giving a percentage of their sales to food banks and charities.

 Prints by Jonathan Lawes

Glass spoke to Peckham-based printmaker Jonathan Lawes, an artist taking part in the pledge. Lawes’ print studio has been closed and his future exhibitions and workshops cancelled. However, he has stayed occupied, “playing around with paper collage and the odd bit of small scale printing from [his] living room”. He says it’s the most time he’s been away from his studio for some years. The pledge has enabled Lawes to “connect with many new people” as well as giving him the opportunity to get in touch with new artists. Jonathan has already reached the £1,000 mark and has had the opportunity to buy some work from a fellow artist. He describes his experience as “incredibly positive in such an uncertain time”.

“I’m already well-practiced in self-isolation and an unstable income but this situation is on a different scale!” says artist Rachel Thomson another participant in the Pledge. ”Uncertainty is a great catalyst for creativity and I believe many people over the coming months will find themselves drawn to art – not just as a commodity but because they genuinely understand its value and enjoy it. Thank you, Mathews Burrows, for setting this up.”

"Leaf As Beast" monotype drawing with shellac on board 15cm x 21cmLeaf As Beast monotype drawing with shellac on board 15cm x 21cm by Rachel Thomson

London-based artist Josephine Woods is part of Artist Support Pledge (ASP) and says, “It is a great initiative – artists supporting each other.”

Hold on to your Sausages by Josephine Woods Artist Support PledgeHold onto your Sausages. A painting by Josephine Woods that she sold through ASP

Void in the Rain. Pigment on paper by Matthew Rimmer on sale through the Artist Support Pledge

“For good reason, everything tangible that an artist does has, to a large extent, been put on hold and that means that my creative aspirations have to be reconsidered,” says Matthew Rimmer, a Glasgow-based artist who is also part of the ASP. “The ASP offers encouragement for people who are trying to maintain the enthusiasm and drive to continue making throughout this period, whilst simultaneously opening possibilities of financial aid too. What I like most about the idea is the spend as you earn pledge, which really interconnects art and art collection.”

The pledge has created the basis of a new art market model. One based on honesty and generosity, centred on giving back to the creative community. By searching the hashtag on Instagram you can unearth a variety of artworks to buy and support artists and creators. With all pieces at £200 or less, the pledge presents an opportunity for anyone to take part in a great initiative.

by Rosie Fitter

For more information and announcements on the Artist Support Pledge, visit @artistsupportpledge and @mathewburrowsstudio