a-n is marking four decades of supporting artists with an anniversary programme that includes a new series of publications, and features with leading artists including Mona Hatoum, Chila Kumari Singh Burman and Antony Gormley.
a-n was founded in 1980 as Artists Newsletter, a grassroots 500-copy-a-month publication offering practical support to visual artists. In its 40 years, a-n has grown to become the UK’s largest artists’ membership organisation, representing more than 21,000 practising artists and lobbying on their behalf through high-profile campaigns such as the Paying Artists initiative and sector-wide guidance.
To mark its 40th anniversary year, a-n has produced a new series of Artists Newsletter publications alongside a specially-commissioned series of interviews with artists from the a-n archive, titled “40 Years 40 Artists.” This year-long programme of activity delves into the rich history of the a-n archive, whilst also exploring the issues, ideas and areas of practice that are important to visual artists today.
With each focusing on a different decade of a-n’s history, four new editions of the Artists Newsletter will be published quarterly on a-n’s website. Published in January 2021, Artists Newsletter #1 is guest edited by members of the Birmingham-based collective Black Hole Club and explores topics from artists’ working rights and identity politics, to activism, digital arts practice and accessibility. Future issues will explore current challenges affecting women artists, with a focus on less visible and precarious practices; art collectives and how artist groups have shaped the current art world; and the impact of social media on artists’ practices in the last decade. Guest editors include Catherine Bertola and Rosie Morris, Shy Bairns and Holly Willats.
“40 Years 40 Artists” is a specially-commissioned series of conversations with artists that feature in a-n’s archive. Conducted by writer Louisa Buck, the interviews chart a-n’s evolution over four decades, providing insight into a broad spectrum of artistic careers, and reflect on issues past and present. The first set of interviews focus on artists who came to prominence in the socially and politically turbulent 1980s and whose work engaged with urgent issues of the time, including LGBTQ+ rights, the miners’ strike and riots against institutional racism and unemployment. Featured artists include Sunil Gupta, Lis Rhodes, Antony Gormley, Magdalene Odundo, Richard Wilson, Anne Bean, Chila Kumari Singh Burman, Keith Piper, Mona Hatoum, and Brian Catling.
London-based Norwegian artist Maria Hatling was selected from an open call to a-n members to create the celebratory 40th anniversary logo. Complementing the celebrations, this year a-n’s membership offer also includes the opportunity for members to apply for one of five Artist Bursaries in partnership with Liverpool Biennial, plus the launch of a new legal service, giving members access to a free legal and tax helpline, resources and workshops.
Julie Lomax, Chief Executive Officer of a-n, said: “During a period of uncertainty as the UK leaves the EU and continues to battle Covid-19, it is vital that we remain committed to supporting artists. As we look back through the a-n archives, we are not only reminded of the issues significant to visual artists in the past but highlight that many of them continue to be just as pressing and urgent 40 years later. Featuring an inspiring cast of contributors, our 40th anniversary programme celebrates the extraordinary resilience, innovation and determination with which visual artists continue to shape the world around us.”
Keith Piper, artist and a-n Board member said: “a-n’s role in providing useful information to its membership, amplifying artists voices and championing artists’ rights places a-n—as it did for a generation of artists such as myself in the early 1980s, and continues to do so now—as the go-to place for emerging and established artists. This brilliant anniversary programme creatively demonstrates the need for organisations to listen, encourage and share stories by visual artists. I am delighted to have contributed to the new series of Artists Newsletter and to be part of such an influential organisation in its 40th year.”
a-n’s 40th anniversary programme and free publications are available at a-n.co.uk/an40