Prior to receiving his Post Graduate Diploma/MA at the Royal Academy Schools in London, the sculptor Sam Porrit visited the Chelsea School of Art and Design and the Wimbledon School of Art. He participated in several solo and group exhibitions around the globe, e.g. London, Zurich, Rotterdam, Los Angeles, Basel, Reykjavik, Copenhagen, Paris and Oslo.
His work has been widely discussed in magazines like Art Review, Kunstbulletin, Frieze and Art Papers, amongst others. In 2008 he was listed among 40 Artists under 40 by Time Out London and was considered A Face to Watch by The Independent in 2005. In 2016 he has been awarded with a scholarship by the city of Zurich.
In our interview, he reveals why his contribution to the Swiss Art Awards 2017 will not be for sale.
What fosters art?
Art can, and always has been made under all circumstances. A fashionable idea is, that duress sharpens the work of an artist; Picasso and Guernica for example. I do not think that this is necessarily the case. Our powers of empathy mean, that we can touch on things beyond our immediate experience. That you can have a stable material existence yet comment on themes of conflict and discord for example. I agree with a friend of mine who once said, that the most demoralising thing for an artist is to be unable to show their work. Accordingly we could say that audiences foster art.
Does financial support expand creativity?
Yes, I would say so. It gives artists time and space to think about things and to take creative risks. I would also venture that, if this support comes from the state or the city the artist lives in, then it in turn says something about the values of their community. To subvert a popular dictum; it might be said, that a society gets the artists it deserves. If private individuals can also support art by playing the role of custodians, then artists can enjoy the freedom to examine the culture fearlessly.
Must art be sellable?
No, art does not need to be sold. In fact, the work that I propose for the Swiss Art Awards is to be given away – I’m making trophies for the SAA to be awarded to the 10 winners. That said, the circumstances of the Swiss Art Awards are unusual and artists must be able to eat. Despite the systemic flaws of the art market; money blindly following money and consistency rewarded over inventiveness, to name just two, to sell something does give the artist both financial relief and encouragement. As we know, capitalism can commodify almost everything. So invariably art can be bought and sold. It is just that an artworks sellability does not necessarily reflect its value.