Residencies 1992-2014 > Newcastle Building Society Yera of the Artist residency 2001- 2002. Man Just Looking
Newcastle Building Society Yera of the Artist residency 2001- 2002. Man Just Looking
2002, Oil on board
75 x 65 cm

A surveillance security camera captures on a screen behind the counter a man looking expressionless at a Norwich Union portable pension poster. I loved the contrasts of this everyday scene at the branch office in Darlington. Perhaps in the distant future people will discover this painting and puzzle over its possible meaning. I'm still figuring it out but that's why I think it is one of my more successful paintings- it retains a certain mystery or an openness to narrative possibility.
I spent 6 months with the Newcastle and had a studio on the top floor overlooking ther Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne. This was my second Year of the Artist residency so naturally I thought I had made it and was beginning to ride the wave of that elusive art world thing called 'success'.
It was a great experience but the manager who set the project up and found the Arts Council funding (the company put next to nothing in out of their very deep pockets) left before the project started. The person who took over was less excited about it and the CEO was almost totally without interest (in art not in money). This is classic example of a wasted opportunity because the basic idea had not been sold properly to the CEO. My preference would always to be involved somehow with the project negotiation so that I had the chance to explain my mission and ambition with the person holding the purse strings.
One brilliant idea not taken up was to offer employees the option of a portrait drawing in place of the portrait photo for the intranet data base being created by HR. The idea came out of a number of quick portraits I did of people who said they would prefer to have the drawn image in place of the photo. A forward thinking creatively minded director would have run with that as an idea and it would have raised the value and profile of the residency. I had a vision of other comapanies taking up the idea once they saw how well it worked at the NBS thus giving me a legitimate role in the economic life of the country. So if you are a company CEO or a head of HR drop me a line and lets talk business!
Collection of NBS.0
©2004 Tom McElderry