Episode 2 of our ABC TV series went to air on Tuesday night. The numbers were good – 253,000 viewers around the country – slightly down from Episode 1. We were up against some stiff opposition for our key demographic with An Interview with Princes William and Harry winning the 9.30pm to 10.30pm slot for Seven, with 1,093,000 people tuning into see two young men explain why don’t want to see images of their dying mother shown on TV. While we again easily beat the pants off SBS and their The American Ruling Class doco [121,000], we have a long way to go to catch up to either Numb3rs [534,000 on TEN] or The Nation [626,000 on Network Nine]. Following some sage reader advice, series 2 of The Art Lifee [if and when such a thing might happen] will incorporate sketch comedy, time-travelling crime-solving psychic detectives… and current events.
Regular Art Life blog reader response to the TV show has been very good. A big thanks to all the readers who kindly left encouraging comments or sent emails to our various addresses, and thanks especially to those salutations from long lost comrades of the art scene now abalone fishing in Tasmania, doing design work in Annandale or skinning rabbits somewhere out west.
Of course, not all the comments have been good. We’re reminded of some very wise words spoken by Peter Hill. In regards to the status of contemporary art on Australian TV, Hill said “There’s only ever one show on TV and we’re always complaining that it’s not the right one.” That comment – made about two years ago – referred to the magazine-style art shows that lined up, one after the other, to be launched and then decapitated by a scathing audience disgusted that, once again, the ABC had failed. Experiments such as the late and unlamented Vulture fared little better.
It’s interesting being on the other side of that attitude because, demonstrably, things are very different now. Along with our show and the regular Sunday Arts, there has been a series of visual art shows pitched at a variety of audiences – from Painting Australia to Art Safari, from I [Heart] Carbunkles to Girl in The Mirror, from the Artists Working series to the forthcoming Marcus Westbury show [made by the team behind our series], there has been a proliferation of art TV the likes of which has not been seen for a decade or more. While we’re happy to weather your good natured abuse at not living up to your expectations, it’s simply incorrect to state that there’s no contemporary art on your ABC. There’s heaps.