Artists Anonymous was a support group for Glasgow-based artists co-founded, coordinated and attended by Harrison over the course of two years. It took place every three weeks at the CCA in Glasgow and aimed to provide a ‘safe space for its members to speak candidly, honestly and confidentially to others about the anxieties and stresses of their professional lives’.

Artists Anonymous was a support group for Glasgow-based artists, which aimed to provide a ‘safe space for its members to speak candidly, honestly and confidentially to others about the anxieties and stresses of their professional lives’.

It took place at the CCA in Glasgow every three weeks from 28th February 2011 until 11th December 2012. Over the course of its life, Artists Anonymous was attended by small groups of 6-12 artists (from a total cohort of twenty), from a variety of age groups and stages of their careers. By allowing them to share the problems which, due to social convention or art world etiquette, may otherwise have been suffered in silence, Artists Anonymous attempted to break down barriers, confront taboos and achieve a level of solidarity previously nonexistent in such a competitive and individualistic industry.

The inaugural Artists Anonymous meeting was coordinated by Ellie Harrison, Kate V Robertson and Oliver Braid and took place on 28th February 2011 to mark the final day of Kate V Robertson’s residency in the Creative Lab at the CCA. From the second meeting on 28th March 2011 onwards, Artists Anonymous was overseen by Val Burns – a trained Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist experienced in working with artists at Glasgow School of Art.

The idea for Artists Anonymous developed from Ellie Harrison’s 2010 Creative Lab proposal to found a ‘support group for careerist artists‘. A project which she hoped would become a practical way of addressing some of the negative modes of operating encouraged in the art world identified in her thesis How to Reconcile the Careerist Mentality with Our Impending Doom and satirised in Trajectories – her online motivational tool.

Her involvement in the Artists Anonymous group builds on her long-term interest in the dialogical relationship between creative production and mental health explored in her 2009 book Confessions of a Recovering Data Collector, but expands on this to investigate the additional potential benefits of peer-support and collective learning.

Photo: Kate V Robertson