The secret of success is the ability to withstand failure!
Tate Gallery. Millbank. London.
13th July 1987.
Dear Mrs Broughton
Thank you for your letter of 8th July, recommending the painting of John Miles. I was glad to know of your enthusiasm, and also of the continuing success of the Broughton Prize.
I fear that the Tate Gallery acquire only a few new artists each year. I have seen John Miles's paintings in the past, and I am sorry to note that I do not think it likely that we would want to make him a priority for this year. If you, or he, would like to send photographs of new work we would, of course, look at them and consider the idea, but I am not optimistic.
I apologise for sounding rather negative, although I am glad that you took the trouble to write.
David Fraser Jenkins
Assistant Keeper - Modern Collection. Tate Gallery. London.
16th July 1987
Dear Mr Miles,
I, herewith, enclose the reply I received from the Assistant Keeper of the Tate Gallery.
I do not know when he saw your work, but if it were a long time ago, it would be worth your effort to send the photographs of your new work as the Assistant Keeper says you should do so. You must not be disheartened in any way by his letter.
Keep on painting, and you will get there - that is where you want to get. You are a good draftsman and colourist - your work varies - some strong, some very delicate - expressing your world eloquently. Believe in yourself, and then others will do the same.
With best wishes
John F.B. Miles
32, Shirburn Road. Torquay. Devon.
17th July 1987.
I was very pleased at the spontaneously favourable reaction you displayed towards my painting and drawing. I am writing on the one hand to thank you for your kindness, and secondly to allay any fears you may have as to my possible disappointment at the Tate letter.
Let me at once say, "The secret of success is the ability to withstand failure!" Furthermore all my heroes were confronted by a similar negative stance (even actively hostile) from Art Establishments, so I am greatly honoured to be following in the tradition if that is to be the way of it.
My enthusiasm for devoting my life to Art (and devoting my Art to Life!) has never been stronger and I am happy to count you as a dear friend.