During this last week the exhibition Light, Clay, Colour ended and another one, for the finalists of the Royal Arts Prize started and it has got me thinking about the nature of different types of exhibition and the pros and cons of each sort.
Our three person exhibition at Fountain Gallery attracted a lot of attention. We must have averaged about 25 visitors per day with some days being much busier than others. We each sold work, although I think we would all agree that we would have liked to have sold more, but at a self invigilated show such as this, at least we keep what we make. There is no gallery commission and that has to be a huge bonus.
We also enjoyed plenty of feedback from our visitors. People are not shy about saying what they like about a piece and what they don’t. They offer comments which can spark a trail of thoughts and might eventually lead to a whole new body of work. I had a couple of very interesting discussions along those lines and am excited to know where they might lead. On the down side however, I spent a lot of admin time on this exhibition. Preparing press releases, most of which got me nowhere; helping to design, print and deliver fliers; organising the hanging, displaying and labelling of work; writing, editing and printing out price lists and artists’ profiles. The list goes on! I also had a lot of up front costs: the hire of the space, the printing of publicity materials, the drinks and nibbles for the private view to name a few. Then, when the exhibition was on, it was down to the three of us to invigilate – that is a lot of hours sitting in the gallery!
The Royal Arts Prize exhibition is a totally different kettle of fish:
You enter the competition, if you are fortunate enough to be shortlisted you take your chosen pieces to the gallery and leave them there. You come back three days later for the private view where you drink their wine and eat their canapé whilst trying to look intelligent, artistic and graceful and then you swan off home and let them sell your work.
BUT . . .
- You pay a fair price to enter the competition and there is no guarantee of being among the chosen few.
- You have fewer pieces on show
- You have no control over the publicity, except for a pdf invitation prepared by the gallery which you have to accept, warts and all. In this particular case it looked great and I was really excited by it but, given the dates on the invitation, some of my guests arrived to discover that the exhibition had taken longer than expected to hang and so they had not opened on the day they had announced! If we had been organising it ourselves we could not have got away with that.
- You have to accept the price that they sell your work for will not necessarily be the price that you put on it and that you sometimes have little say over that.
On the up side, the gallery has a huge and interested client base, the private view included people that the gallery has on its mailing list, many of whom don’t know you, and so this kind of exhibition is a great opportunity for building your own customer base and you don’t pay commission for work sold.
The third sort of exhibition in which I am currently involved is through my regular gallery. Tregony Gallery is what I would call the ‘slow burn’ of exhibiting. I have had work with this gallery for some time now and I like to think that we are building a good relationship. I seem to be receiving a steady flow of sales. I don’t pay to exhibit my work but they charge me a percentage on everything that I sell through them. This seems entirely fair given what they do in terms of invigilation, publicity and promoting their artists. If you get a good gallery, and Tregony is, the work just sells and you get the money – well some of it at least! I just have a responsibility to the gallery to keep supplying them with the work that they want. The customer feedback is through Brian and Judy so it is slightly less ‘in my face’. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad one! All decisions about the running of the gallery are made way over my head. I’m dead certain that is a good thing! So when the gallery came up with the idea of Tregony By the Sea and asked if I wanted to be involved I was thrilled!
Tregony Gallery presents ‘By the Sea’, a new event showcasing the best in contemporary and traditional artists, from locals to Londoners and recent graduates.
We are thrilled to be displaying new work and key pieces from a selection of our most talented artists and makers in the beautiful harbour setting of St Mawes.
Visit us at; Millennium Rooms, The Square, St Mawes TR2 5AG.
9 & 10 June 2017.