Guildford Lane Gallery

"A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs;
no religious basis is necessary."
Albert Einstein

Last updated 2nd April 2011

Sued by Robert Cripps

Robert Cripps has decided my page must come down, claiming that it defames his character, and that I must in addition to taking this page down offer an online apology and retraction to what is written. For me to do so would mean I agree that what I have written on this page is untruthful or defamatory. Not so, every account is true. His summons claims "injurious falsehood". It would be a lie and a public disservice for me to take it down or agree to supply any apology or retraction, publicly, online or otherwise.
The page stays. It is the truth that matters.

I and my co-exhibitor Demetrios Vakras have been summonsed to appear in the Supreme Court by Cripps to answer his charge of defamation and has, via two legal firms, demanded we remove our webpage accounts of our experience of him and Guildford Lane Gallery and that we each provide an online retraction and apology. The first correspondence from Cripps' first set of lawyers, he is on to a second lot now, threatened us with criminal action. Nonsense of course. The second lot have decided to go with this civil claim angle that he is somehow defamed. Nonsense again. The public arts community have a right to know and be aware of what they are potentially getting into with any management of a gallery for hire. Word of mouth didn't warn us about the risk. If we had known of the unprofessional nature of the management at Guildford Lane Gallery we would not have wasted our time, our money and subsequently risked our artistic reputations as a result. We didn't know and suffered the worst nightmare of any struggling, self funded, exhibiting artist. It was an expensive, humiliating and torturous debacle, not of our making, and an experience we could not possibly have anticipated without prior warning.

I will do what I can to prevent others going in unawares. Robert Cripps demonstrates he has no interest in honesty or exhibiting any consistent good character. I will look forward to defending my right to freedom of speech, to the truth, and will update this page with any developments.

To see what all the fuss is about and show support for the artists feel free to purchase the Catalogue.

Humanist Transhumanist Exhibition Catalogue Preview and Purchase

It is an excellent first self-publication of our art and themes which examine and critique conventional art theory, religions, and political and cultural systems. It was only when we were hanging the paintings for the show that we were informed Guildford Lane Gallery would not manage any sales of the publication. Subsequent events prevented our attending the gallery to facilitate sales and provide support for the show at all.

Lee-Anne Raymond - 2nd April 2011

Commentary on "Sued by Robert Cripps" Added 17 September 2011

How Australian Defamation Laws Chill

"In practice, defamation laws are frequently used as a means of chilling speech. A threat of (costly) defamation proceedings and damages, whether or not a plaintiff's claim is likely to be upheld by a court, is often used to silence criticism not only by a particular person or group but also as a threat to others."

This is Australia 2011, and I am being sued for defamation. What have I learnt?

I have learned freedom of speech as most modern democratic citizens may understand it is not a right of citizens in this country. Indeed laws governing defamation in Australia are weighted against any critics who may publish or publicly present unfavourable or critical opinion and ideas, be they; artists, authors, journalists, publishers, newspapers. Australian defamation law, the way it is framed, even following the unification of the 2005 act, effectively "chills" free speech.

I have learned what is meant by the term "chilling speech" as the direct quote above from Electronic Frontiers' FAQ regarding defamation law defines, it is of course to censor speech. Within the same FAQ is discussed ways to; minimise risk (of action being brought against you, should you be one at 'risk'), dealing with threats (of legal action against you) and, of course the defences you can employ should you be facing action. All very informative and I have to thank this and other organisations for sharing and making accessible this information online.

Within this particular FAQ I noted the heading of one section which struck a cord, "Defamation and Safe Speech". A tips section for how to say what is needed but not expose yourself to a charge of defamation. Personal and societal ethics and values aside the existence of helpful tips like this make me cringe in horror. It is saying couch the truth because they will come after you if you do not fudge it. This underscores that there is no freedom of speech, not only under our system of law, but in addition, within our conceptual grasp or perhaps societal character (Government ministers enjoy the privilege of a kind of technical parliamentary free speech). We are as a country governed by a secular democracy that is cowed into expression of only flaccid and inoculated "safe" forms free speech.

What does this mean?

As a person no longer simply at risk of being sued for defamation this is moot. Now that I am being sued I know personally about the chill and its insidious effect. My website host were threatened and the page on which I wrote an account of unprofessional practice of a gallery director back in 2009 was pulled down. My partners similar account as well was pulled down. This is the chilling effect. We are not celebrities, rich, influential, nor associated with a publication, our pages being pulled meant no discussion or opinion could be conducted about what was or was not defamatory, nor even available for anyone to have reported the matter.

A reference placed on another page to inform others I was being sued to explain why the link was unavailable was further to this taken down after an additional threat was made to my host provider. Does this mean I do not have the right to convey to a third party that I am being sued? The lack of clarity is universal. I believe I do have a right to inform my, audience (website visitors) that I am being sued and the page you are attempting to link to is down because of what I wrote about a poor experience with this gallery director in 2009. The public writ itself names Robert Raymond Cripps as the Plaintiff vs Demetrios Vakras and Lee-Anne Raymond the Defendants. It is a matter of public record. I must as well, apparently, take care not to too fully explain the context nor circumstance which has led to my being sued, even though this as well is a matter of public record.

In my experience of the law it seems I may discuss or comment only if I am enjoying the rights of parliamentary privilege (doubtful that will ever happen), or as a witness before the court, or a reporter of statements made under privilege in these contexts. As I am neither a parliamentarian or a reporter of my issue or yet a witness to it in court I apparently have no right to provide my audience with information surrounding my being sued. To the rational and logical thinker this is Kafka's, The Castle, a reality in which one must obey pre-prescribed rules and laws which have no rational explanation. As my partner observed, the legal system acts an awful lot like a religion. One is expected to simply "have faith" in the various proclamations and protocol however irrational, ridiculous or inconsistent.

Effectively without proof or conviction I am expected to accept being gagged by multiple threats of further legal retribution by the plaintiff in this matter. I do not accept this is the spirit of the law and, unlike the plaintiff, I take responsibility for my actions and restate the exhibition with his gallery was a disaster at the gallery director's hand. Declaring the show and my partner racist, barring our attending our own show, causing us personal and professional damage from which we are still recovering is no small event. In addition it was a public event and these matters played out in public at our expense. These are the reported facts behind the case and which he claims defame him. Defamation is considered proven if what was disseminated was out of malice (untrue) and caused the complainant's reputation harm. The truth we fully support with evidence. The plaintiff's reputation, good or bad is subjective. However, as our experience with the plaintiff is one shared by others prior to our showing at his gallery it would seem any reputation he had is self-earned and pre-existed our exhibition and commentary.

The penalties, if a ruling (if we ever get to court) is found against you, are indeed odious and severe. Laws are meant to work by modifying behaviour (seen as poor) and gain compliance (good behaviour). I argue that the penalties alone are a form of chilling, preventing free speech. In addition though it is how defamation law in particular is framed in law which is most concerning, as the laws assist to amplify the chilling effect and mussel fair and rigorous criticism.

To elaborate as discussed the cost of responding to the litigation alone represents a burden of such a punitive like nature that one, as an individual defendant becomes pauperised or cowed by this real threat before a matter is even heard in court. I maintain the law *By law, I mean our justice system*, works against individual citizens in this arena. This is not just because the threat of financial devastation is so real, but in reality the law is so badly framed that it appears to hold the defendant as guilty and as having defamed regardless of the court outcome. All that is decided upon is how valid are the defences for the defamation. This means defamation is assumed but perhaps there was a valid reason to do so.

I maintain to be silent is acquiescence, and this can and will be construed as an admission of guilt.
Is this a demonstration of the law working?

What really is chilling is that the law (justice system) may not care if it is working or not.

Lee-Anne Raymond
17 Sept 2011

Robert Cripps of Guildford Lane Gallery is at it again, and again, and again

26th September 2010
Another artist reports to me they were humiliated and embarrassed by Cripps's behaviour at their opening and throughout the duration of the exhibition. (What I struggle to understand is how he is still permitted to engage volunteers and operate as the director of a gallery at all.)

This is a pattern of behaviour, artists be warned and beware.

6th June 2010
A life model reported to me how he found Cripps' "...treatment was unbearable." This person had been wrongly paid and dared to question Cripps and was victimised for it.

26th May 2010
An artist reports her reputation and exhibition were "destroyed" by Robert Cripps and his bizarre unchecked antics.

When will any official arts reviewer, so called artists support organisation or arts writer/publisher have the guts to do anything about him? Arts Law must have volumes dedicated to complaints just about Cripps. Like Demetrios Vakras and I you will get nothing but useless mutterings "how awful", well that isn't good enough. In our case a review supporting the show and its purpose or even critiquing it properly would have been the expectation. But no, what we received was much less than nothing, we were left to hang. This will happen to you too.

It is time to out Cripps for what he is. If you have had a similar experience with this pariah of a man then let me know and I'll post it to this page as a warning to other artists. Say NO to Guildford Lane Gallery under the steerage of Robert Cripps. Say NO to being abused and having your show destroyed and your reputation sullied and then receive no support or back up. Say NO more to providing Cripps with the oxygen to continue running this gallery. Say NO to Guildford Lane Gallery and go elsewhere. By the way this man also runs Red Leg an arts transportation company, in this context I am aware that he is professionally avoided. Others without direct experience of Cripps are well aware of his reputation, he is, as reported to me, "universally despised". If this isn't enough read on. If you still think you won't experience this sort of treatment it doesn't matter, he will treat others this way and your support just keeps him in business to do so.

In my own experience...let's see, at my exhibition what did he do that would suggest he is a creep and his motivations suspect? My paintings display nudes, generally, though not always, from the back. He embarrassed me, and the entire concept of the show, by asking women at the opening, "is that your lovely bottom?" What did he do to display he is a bully? He stood an inch from my face and screamed at me in front of visitors to the gallery and gallery volunteers. When I moved back he moved forward. He did the same to Demetrios. He poked aggressively at our chests and shouted his foul abuse and we stood our ground. He was incensed that we wouldn't back down, that we would dare to stand up to him and for our character and our exhibition.

Anyone who works or volunteers for him who doesn't support this account of the kind of person he is, is a coward and an enabler of a bully and a lecher. There were at least 3 volunteers visible and in earshot of the incident I have referred to. Present as well was the paid Gallery Manager who during Cripps' tirade remained his silent lackey, saying and doing nothing of honour. All who were there at the time know you did nothing. How many times has it been that you did nothing? I'm sending out the call to all "his women", this is what he calls you, (he is only interested in young inexperienced women and men too weak to stick up for themselves it seems) to come forward and report his behaviour, equip people with the knowledge to avoid him before they come into his employ or anywhere near paying him money for art space rental.

How many people must he dishonour and ill treat with his shameful antics? People with any notion of self respect simply leave his gallery, but no one ever does anything about it to prevent the next person making the same mistake to 'work' for him. You are meaningless to him and he has no respect for you; he is a narcissist without scruples who stands not for art but for himself and the appeasement of his own appetites.

Contact Lee-Anne to post your experience
from personal experience ~ a review of guildford lane gallery

Guildford Lane Gallery, level 2, displaying one aspect of the exhibition "Humanist Transhumanist - An Umbrella and Two Surrealists".

If an artist or interested person were to ask me, how did your show go?...what was the gallery like?...did you have a good experience? I would have to say in order; terribly; an impressive space to be avoided at all costs and, no, it was the worst experience and one I could never have imagined. Why?

No more than 5 minutes after the close of our opening night event my co-exhibitor, Demetrios Vakras, and I were subjected to a truly sickening tirade of insult by the Director, Robert Cripps. The basis for his tirade, directed mostly at my co-exhibitor was that Cripps had taken exception to one aspect of religious criticism in the exhibition. In his tirade we were informed without invitation, that he (Cripps) was anti the Jewish State and pro Palestinian. There was no reference to this conflict in the content of exhibition. Nevertheless he demanded it be removed. We left that evening, without resolution to this extremely insulting accusation and with Cripps claiming later to anyone who would listen to his bombast that he was 'attacked' by us. We subsequently returned to the exhibit some days later to photograph the installation. (See the above photograph which is one of the few good ones and one of the few we were able to take) We only managed to take very few shots of the show as during our attempt to document the exhibition Robert Cripps proceeded to shadow us around our rented space declaring once more that Demetrios and the show was racist. He had installed several "disclaimer" notices within the exhibition space (we'd hired the entire 2nd floor) and at the first ramp of the stair way leading up to the space a huge "WARNING" sign was posted.

When a gallery of its own volition does this, it says more about the gallery direction than anything else but damage is also done. It was effective enough to cast a pall over the content and therefore overall reception of the show, which was up for three weeks at the mercy of Cripps' vile interpretations. It was very effective, a complete sabotage, the gallery had all the money it was ever going to get out of us after all and didn't need to support sales of our art or our self produced catalogue in order to make any profit. It is all about the money at Guildford Lane Gallery. If it were about the art, the gallery Director would of course already know that Surrealism is a protestant movement, one born from a fiercely anti establishment, anti-religious, ant-discrimination and anti-violence background. With particular emphasis on anti-violence purportedly performed in the name of religion.

What of the content? This exhibition was well announced to the Director and his staff, well documented in our formerly welcomed application to be a return to Surrealism's roots, an unapologetic announcing of Surrealism's origins and traditional temperament. No saccharine coated pop-version of surrealism by designers. This means religion is critiqued. Cripps though only cared about criticisms of Islam, not Christianity, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism or Judaism. The content, it was claimed, was racist towards Islam alone. The critiques on Islam were backed up by quotation from the Koran with passages extolling violent action and misogyny. Quotations were referenced to emphasise the problems and significant contradictions between the text and claims made about this religion. Quotation from the Bible similarly prominent was undisputed and not a concern for Cripps. The point of logic presented to Cripps that Islam is multi-racial so criticism of the religion cannot be racial was rejected. He further claimed to be threatened by us and that neither could visit the space we hired without prior warning and that Demetrios was just not to come at all. Never mind that as renters we had a clear right to be present during business hours this was all declared by Cripps whilst inches from us in a posture one might find very contradictory to this claim (we couldn't back away he kept moving in). This occurred all in the presence of a visitor to the gallery whom we did not know, she remained although initially hesitated when coming upon the exchange, but then she stayed, read everything and she came to us when Cripps left the space to reassure us that there was nothing to his accusation, she could "see what we were doing" and that the work was "amazing" - she said she'd be back to see it more, I hope she did.

I wonder how many turned around and left the space when coming upon the disclaimers, or how many were treated to a special audience by the director. I can't know this for sure and can only reasonably speculate of course but it stands to reason. To add further insult we had to fight for six weeks post the closure of the show to receive our sale money and bond money owed. It wasn't a large amount, but we were not prepared to let the gallery retain it. It was a further self-discrediting act by this gallery in my opinion. So beware artists, take care to research your gallery selections well, I hope this helps you.

If asked by a prospective artist applicant to the gallery for an assessment I would have to say think twice before being lured by Guildford Lane Gallery's undeniably striking interior, it comes at a significant cost.

Review the account of my co-exhibitor Demetrios Vakras here: