I had arranged to meet Sascha Bailey, the curator and founder of The Something Else Collective, a few days before their first show’s launch as part of our interview series Time Spent With. It was wet (the weather, not the interview…) and I was delighted to find the East London bar didn’t open for 20 minutes. I smoked in the rain and mulled over the lack of light. Sascha, along with the collective’s creative directors Lily and Conor, joined me at my flower adorned table I eventually found myself at, and we got to it. All I had was the information that the invitation to the launch gave me, and being an artist myself, I was intrigued.
SW: How long has The Something Else Collective been going on for?
Sascha: Conor and I came up with the idea last year. It started as one idea to throw a show together then we moved into wanting to start up a company, and now that’s what we’re doing.
SW: I didn’t do uni, I moved to Liverpool to afford the space to paint and gain some real experience as a photographer and an artist. I know your collective is based upon the idea of supporting artists without a formal education, and I’m (obviously) right behind it. In short, what’s it all about?
Sascha: You can’t be taught things as well as you can learn them for yourself. I’m sure for some people university works fantastically, but for the majority of creative people they end up dropping out or they can get discouraged from art at an early age by the way that their art teachers teach it.
SW: Why should I go to the exhibition?
Sascha: Firstly, there are four artists who have all been displayed before and are known for being fantastic artists. There are three new faces, Damien Hirst’s son being one of them – which isn’t a reason on its own to see his work. He works sculpturally.
SW: Is the art work for sale?
Sascha: Yes, and we’ll be donating 10% of all profit to the Prince’s Trust Foundation. We’re also having the artists doing live painting whilst the show runs up until the 19th, and when those paintings are finished, we’re donating 100% of that to the Prince’s Trust, too.
SW: Would you ever use the term ‘outsider art’ to describe your collective?
Sascha: I don’t feel it should be termed as outsider…
Lily: If you’re an artist, you’re an artist.
SW: What do you think is wrong with the art world?
Sascha: People look at artists on paper without actually looking at their work. It’s becoming more of a business, more like a stock exchange.
SW: How important is a knowledge, or talent, of business and finance in becoming a successful artist?
Sascha: It’s important, definitely. You can be the best artist in the world but if you’re not talking to the right people or showing them your work nobody is ever going to discover you. You have to put yourself out there and it’s a lot of hard work.
SW: Your dad David Bailey changed the face of fashion photography, do you plan to change the face of the art world?
Sascha: Well I wouldn’t go as far as that, that’s a little too cocksure right now…
Conor: We aim to make a dent.
SW: Well everything starts with a dent, right…
I can’t help but mention the recent record-breaking sale of Barnett Newman’s ‘Onement VI‘, essentially a painted blue square with a thin white line down the middle. What are your thoughts on, what could be described as, grotesque sale prices of something as subjective as art?
Sascha: Well, remember that you’re talking about the stuff they sell at auction. That’s all the reported stuff, it’s the private sales we don’t know about that could be up to six hundred million a piece in private hands… I think if it was something by Michelangelo then there’s justification for it.
SW: How do you feel about entirely conceptual art?
Sascha: I think conceptual art is interesting, I but I prefer to stick to stuff that’s more tangible.
SW: Yeah, it get’s a little wanky.
Sascha: (laughs) I don’t want to start offending anyone… It has to have a really good meaning. A message, something that’s going to change someone’s mind or perception of things. Not just “the line on the canvas represents minimalism”.
SW: A necessary message to do necessary good – draw the line at that. No pun intended… Ok, so, remove concept. Beauty can often draw enough attention to the work itself for the viewer to salvage a message from it themselves. Is raw beauty without a built in concept enough?
Sascha: I think that that’s fantastic that you brought that up. Oscar Wilde said that all art is quite useless, much like a flower. It serves no use to anyone other than it makes people happy.
SW: I see it as a reflection of our responsive existence, something I think is hugely important. All the way back to the time of the cavemen’s finger paintings; it’s the most honest portrayal of our history as human beings.
Sascha: It’s something we’ve always felt the need to do, for whatever reason. The whole notion of its pointlessness is kind of beautiful in a way. There is no real use for it, but we create beauty anyway. It’s a human thing. No other animal looks at art with the same appreciation. It’s a visual output of the perception of our own universe that makes us enjoy it.
SW: Would you apply that same notion to photography?
Sascha: Yes. I think photography should be considered just as much of an art form as any other. Not so much Instagram apps, however. Photography can be documentation and it can be art, it’s painting a picture with light.
SW: Nice. Is photography going to be a part of your collective?
Sascha: Of course. My first show was a photographic one.
SW: How much does it all depend on luck?
Sascha: The thing is, most things in life are about luck. But the harder you work, the luckier you get. By not doing the education route, you gain 3 extra years and no debt. It’s maddening to me, really. I understand a free foundation course, however.
Conor: My friends doing a degree at St. Martins tell me it’s really strict. It’s all technical skill, technical production skill… It’s like, you’re in one of the most creative hubs in the world…
SB: It works fantastically if you want to be a teacher. That is what it guarantees you. Everything else is just as much work as before. You finish after three years and you work from scratch.
Conor: Talking about the money side of things as well, when I had my interview at Central St. Martins (before I changed my mind) I was in an interview with a woman. She said to me that the most creative students they had were the ones with the least amount of money. So when the prices go up in London and people can’t afford to live, you’re killing off that creativity. You used to not be able to afford to go out for a drink with your friends, but now it’s that you can’t afford your basic supplies to create your work.
SW: That applies to everything though, right? If you haven’t got the money to make something happen easily, you’ve got to come up with a creative solution to make it happen. Money cuts corners, which in turn numbs a person’s need to be creative. Saying that, will it make those in an art education angry that you’re trying to make it easier for those that haven’t invested their time and money in a degree?
Lily: No, people aren’t angry at us.
Conor: They were angry in the first place for thinking they had to do it…
Sascha: Basically when it comes down to it I think that’ it’s a complete scam. Except to maybe be a lawyer, doctor, architect, it makes sense. But on a creative level, it’s a scam.
SW: Did you attempt university?
Sascha: I dropped out of school at 16, I knew it was what I was going to do as my dad dropped out at 15, my brother at 16 and my sister attempted A level but dropped out. I realised that there wasn’t any point, I’d rather get the experience instead. The way I put it to my mum was this: if I left school now at 16 and got a job an M&S, by the time my mates left school I’d be managing M&S and they’ll just be starting out.
SW: I’m aware that you must get asked a lot about your father, and it must get irritating.
Sascha: Yes, I’m so glad that you’ve focused on something else. It gets very annoying and comes as a relief.
SW: I can imagine.
Sascha: He’s a fantastic dad. In the UK it’s kind of frowned upon to have a famous parent, where as in the US it’s almost celebrated.
SW: I guess it is, a kind of congratulations for being birthed from a particular vagina you had no say in whatsoever. You can tell I’m a republican.
Sascha: (laughs) Yeah, where as in England you’re condemned for the vagina you fell out of.
SW: Ok, so, what would you say to someone if they said to you: “Well it’s easy for you to say that you don’t need an education and it’s all based on hard work and experience when your Dad’s David Bailey?”
Sascha: I would say that the evidence is there that not all children of famous people do very well. I would also say that it can open the door for you, but it’s up to you to walk through it.
SW: I would argue, also, that the complacency that comes with having a famous parent could act as a hindrance to initiative. “I have it so easy, why on earth would I work any harder?” Kind of attitude.
Sascha: My parents always raised me not to believe that. They always put me on a level with everyone else, which I’m very thankful for. They wanted for me to do it for myself, rather than just providing what I need.
SW: They’ve obviously done an awesome job, and I bet they’re seriously looking forward to seeing it all fall into place. I know I am.
The Route Less Travelled launched last night, the 30th April, and will run until the 19th May at Covent Garden’s Pop-up concept, Floral Street Goes Pop! located at 17 Floral Street. I attended the launch, and will be writing the review of that, too. The trio are most certainly ones to watch, and I look forward to their “dent” evolving into a chasm of much needed change in the art world.
- Location: LONDON UK
- Website: Link