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Calum Hall on Empowerment

March 5, 2018

Calum Hall is the co-founder of Creative Debuts, a London based art agency whose main focus is helping emerging artists get their art on the scene.


"Our mission is to celebrate the incredible undiscovered artists that go under the radar and make art more accessible by bridging the gap between the creative and commercial worlds."


On the 8th March, it will be Creative Debuts second collaboration with Nasty Women New York, Amsterdam, Lisbon, North East, and London, together they have teamed up to bring you, EMPOWERMENT. An exhibition to celebrate the work of international feminist artists. Expect to see a range of contemporary artwork including photography, sculpture, craft, fine art, and film whilst raising money for End Violence Against Women. This show will also be a celebration of International Women's Day!!!!!


What lead to a second collaboration with Nasty Women?

Last year, many of our female artists expressed the challenges they have faced in the being recognised, exhibiting, and selling their work. We felt it was important to support them and offer a space to address the issues they had experienced. This is why we held our first feminist exhibition with Nasty Women last year and we wanted to continue to build momentum. 


Can we look forward to more Creative Debuts x Nasty Women art shows in the future?

Empowerment is calling for greater diversity in the arts and accelerating gender equality. A lot of work still needs to be done to make the art world more inclusive. Empowerment is just the start! We will build on this work later in the year with The Anti Art Fair to continue challenging perceptions, create debate, and offer a platform to those on the margins of the art sector.

Empowerment will be a preview to The Anti Art Fair that will take place on 4 - 7 October 2018. We will be working with a range of partners including Nasty Women to deliver The Anti Art Fair to coincide with Frieze Art Fair in London. The fair will be a celebration of creativity and the voice for change in the art world that puts the creators at centre stage. It will follow on from Creative Debuts’ support for equality, female empowerment, diversity and accessibility. The Anti Art Fair will be a direct response to the sterilised, exclusive and money driven art world.

What influence are you hoping this exhibition will have on those attending?

As the name suggests I want people to feel Empowered! This exhibition is a true celebration of our creative community both through the tremendous talent on display and the stories told by the artworks. I want people to leave the exhibition with the mind-set that they can achieve whatever they like. I have no doubt there will be a very special energy in the building, and I am sure this will be a catalyst for even more positive change. This is exactly what Creative Debuts is about!


Regarding the art that was submitted, where you looking for something specific? 

We wanted to have a broad range of styles and mediums on show but everything had to be technically impressive as well as thought provoking. I’m really proud of all the artists involved and how they have taken the opportunity and ran with it. There’s so many international artists involved from as far and wide as the United States, Nigeria, India, Iran, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, and the UK. It’s also great to see so many artists making their exhibition debut at Empowerment, I hope this excitement and the exposure will be a driving force in their creative careers.

What were your thoughts and feelings when you saw Lila's submission? 

In short I was speechless and they genuinely made me feel uncomfortable. Truly powerful. As soon as I saw her works I knew we were going to have a special show, Lila Ash’s work is exactly what we were looking for as we want to create an environment that will stimulate dialogue.


In what way do you feel her work will empower women? 

It’s all about opening avenues for dialogue, building awareness of the issues faced by women, and coming together to do something about it. For too long have had such issues almost being swept under the carpet and not confronted. Lila takes these real life events and makes them as digestible as possible. She uses the harrowing stories and illustrates them in a cartoon strip to bring the message home and to show the assault on innocence and vulnerability. Lila plants the seed for discussion and dialogue which is key for awareness and social change.

Do you think it will have an affect on men?

I don’t see how it can’t. I almost feel it will have more of an affect on men to be honest. It is important that all genders are included as part of the debate. This is why we wanted to welcome all submissions from artists regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or experience with art.


Did it have an affect on you in any way?

Absolutely! I can easily feel the emotions behind the pieces, the courage of the story teller and the responsibility Lila feels oozes out of each drawing and results in something that’s very powerful. I have looked at a lot of Lila’s work and they all make you think, and question the status quo. The more exhibitions like Empowerment can bring these subjects to light the quicker there will be dialogue and change. Creative Debuts will continue our battle to bring such issues to the forefront at The Anti Art Fair in October 2018.   


How do you plan to display her work?

I want people to be able to read and absorb the message and take it home away from the hustle and bustle of the show. I think it’s an important piece and we should allow the emotions time to breathe within each viewer.


You can see Lila Ash’s work along with 39 other artists at Empowerment by Creative Debuts and Nasty Women Exhibition that will take place at 7-11pm on 8 - 10 March in London. Tickets start at £5.86 and includes entry, a goodie bag, and a charity donation for End Violence Against Women Coalition.


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