Free Art Friday

As part of the publicity for “Up in the Air” in July, I gave away my prototype for Particulart, the carbon dioxide that ended up a bit too big and time-consuming to knit. It was a bit of a wrench! But I took the opportunity to piggy back on the Free Art Friday movement, and set up Free Art Friday Exeter, with its own Facebook page. The worldwide free art movement has existed for many years. Artists leave pieces in public places to be discovered and taken for free. There’s a much longer explanation below.

FreeArtFriday-LibraryThe lady on Reception in the Exeter Civic Centre couldn’t quite grasp the point of Free Art Friday (“It’ll disappear within 5 minutes”… well, yes) and thought it better if I didn’t leave my carbon dioxide molecule there. So I took it to Exeter Library instead. Here it is in the entrance and café area. I asked whoever found and took the molecule to let me know, but sadly received no response. Maybe it ended up in the bin. Still, it was worth trying, and I may well again. I need to get more artists involved too, so if anyone is interested, please see the Facebook page and get in touch.

The long explanation

By MyDogSighs ’07, from the Flickr page for the original Free Art Friday

Artwork placed on the street for any member of the public to enjoy and take home — go on, make someone’s day! Post only pictures of free art please.

Free Art Friday is not an original concept. There are many artists across the world making art and leaving it out on the street.

There are no rules. That’s the joy! In order to keep a record of exclusively free art you need to make sure the work is easily removable and does little or no damage to its environment.

Some put out canvas. Others use materials found on the street. Cardboard is popular but your imagination is your limit.

P.S. It doesn’t have to be Friday!

The concept of Free Art Friday has many strands.

For the artist, it is an opportunity to create work free from the constraints of commerce, to voice an idea, shout a political message or just amuse and confuse the viewer.

Art is so often tied to a need by the artist to ‘make a living’ and constrained by gallery and dealer issues. FAF focuses the artist on the act itself, giving complete artistic freedom as opposed to considering financial and commercial limits.

Many Free Art Friday participants’ work is humorous and good natured, hoping to cheer up the walk to work of the viewer. Hoping to make them question everything. To expect the unexpected and realise that along with the need to sell, promote, fight the system and rebel, there is also a need to embellish and entertain in a non profit way without the need to cause damage to property.

The act of removing the work intrigues. Almost an act of situationist art itself. Is there guilt? Why is it taken – as part of a street cleaning operation, consigned to the rubbish heap? or coveted and displayed? Are they artists themselves? Kids, willing to steal and destroy purely for the act of rebellion or someone never faced with something completely free, not promoting or selling? After all how many things do you know that are completely free, no strings attached?

All street artists, whether producing static or removable art, hope to promote discussion in one form or other: “Talk about me and my work”, “Question the images thrown at you”, or “Use your political power”.

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