Once again, we put out a call and artists from around the world answered. And, once again, we loved the work we saw and were really disappointed to turn some of it down. Curating a cohesive and diverse quarterly publication means that we find ourselves turning down some work simply because we couldn’t find a home for it in this issue. We hate sending that email almost as much as artists hate receiving it. But as an issue comes together in the final panic-soaked days, it takes on a form of its own and places its own demands on the art.
Our submissions call opened on 17 February 2017 and closed on 27 March 2017 (with a sneaky deadline extension to give everyone one last weekend to polish their work and hit ‘send’). We received 176 submissions from 68 artists, including one collaborative duo. This means our submissions numbers were slightly down from what we received in December for Issue 2 – Movement: two fewer submissions and nine fewer artists. Interestingly, this translated into seeing multiple forms from several artists. We loved seeing people express themselves across forms – a talented bunch!
With 17 published pieces, our acceptance rate was just over 9.5% by piece or 19% by artist. This was a little lower than for issue 2, but still in a similar region. The major difference that we saw in this submissions window was the balance of poetry, prose and other art. Fully 82% of the submissions we received were poetry or a blend of poetry and another form. Perhaps the ekphrastic theme leant itself more to poetic expression. This did mean, however, that the bar for poetry acceptances was extremely high as we tried to maintain some balance of form in the final publication. Interestingly, we also saw an increase in our creative nonfiction submissions and we hope this trend will continue and that writers will also pitch journalistic features in the future.
We were sad to see fewer visual arts submissions on the whole and are looking forward to future issues bringing more visual, audio visual and mixed media work. The visual work that we did receive, however, was unnerving, unflinching and interesting. Unfortunately, we had to turn some down because it was previously published/exhibited but keep an eye out because some of those artists will be appearing in upcoming features!
Again, we were able to offer feedback to all our submitters. As always, this is only our view of the work we receive and we send it not as the definitive reading, but to thank our submitters by giving them some understanding of our editorial decisions. It’s entirely possible that we’re wrong! If we are, however, there’s no need to write to tell us that – unfortunately, we’re not going to change our minds; we’ll just wallow in our wrongness.
With so many poetry submissions, we found the most common feedback we were giving in rejections was that we wanted to see more clear, concrete, specific imagery in the place of abstract ideas. The passion is evident in so much of what we receive and we love the honesty and courage of the work. We sometimes find, however, that the truly extraordinary moments of the poetry can be weighed down by abstract concepts and cliches. Free those excellent, unique lines, those moments when the poem lifts off the page and becomes a thing unto itself. We can only encourage poets to be brave, to cut ruthlessly and to have faith in your imagery; it can and is doing all the work you want it to do!
We also had the wonderful experience of accepting a piece that we had previously requested that a writer edit and consider resubmitting. We had made some suggestions and what the author sent back was beyond our hopes. Their editing enabled us to see and feel the power – and we think you will as well – of their words even more keenly. We just couldn’t say no, and that’s a fantastic feeling for an editor!
We asked artists to take inspiration from other art and so we were intrigued when we saw that many of our submissions seemed almost to reference one another. You can see this in the issue with the two pieces inspired by different representations of Harlequin and Pierrot, from the Italian tradition of Comedia del’Arte mediated by paintings from Cezanne and Derain. This web of art and inspiration is what we hope we are building, and building on, at all the sins. We are already beginning to see themes carry from one issue to another and we hope that, as artists explore the site, they will be inspired by what they find and will push it further, challenging, reinterpreting and reinventing.
Our featured image is Under Construction (Legacy) by Rebecca Robinson. The painting was created using oil paint, builders’ debris and found objects from the construction site of 2012 Olympics stadium, East London.
Rebecca Robinson is an Isle of Wight based artist and teacher who uses ordinary, overlooked and found objects to create evocative work that questions notions of perceived value, division of labour and mass consumption, and embraces the principles of The Slow Movement. Her work has been exhibited throughout the UK and Europe, and she has worked with English Heritage and the National Trust. She earned a BA in both Fashion & Textiles and Fine Art, an MA in Fine Art and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. You can find out more about her work and workshops at www.rebecca-robinson.com