I am Such an Exhibitionist!

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.

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Preparation takes a lot of time.

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:

The aim of the Royal Arts Prize Exhibition and Award is to search out for and showcase artworks by artists that have embraced their individual exegesis in art, artworks that are a product of an inner balance in a world full of diversity and often chaos.
An exhibition of 26 shortlisted artists for the Royal Arts Prize. The prize will be awarded to artists that present works that are the product of an emotional connection between dream and reality; we’re exhibiting contemporary art that shows the force driving individuals to express and affirm their personality and ego, through today’s modern art landscape. A winner will be selected by a judging panel made up of Art Professionals and Artists. There will also be a Visitor’s Choice Prize awarded to the Artist with the most votes by the visiting public.
30th May – 10th June 2017
Opening times Monday to Saturday 10:30 am-6:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday 12.00- 5:00 pm
Admission: Free

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.

    BridgetMacklin RAP

    Proof reading the invitation should be the gallery’s responsibility.

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. 

(http://www.tregonygallery.co.uk/bythesea.html)

 

Ai Weiwei at the Royal academy

This week I visited the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy.  I am a bit late really, most of my friends were there weeks ago and if you haven’t been yet, well get a move on!

Ai Weiwei needs little introduction and there is so much written about him by people who know a great deal more than me so I shall not even go there.   However, I think the exhibition is worthy of a blog.  As an aspiring artist I am always intrigued by the work of people who have become household names.  What makes them so famous that we must flock to see their exhibitions?  Is it what they stand for or the beauty of their art?

Weiwei’s work is his expression of his campaign for free speech and human rights.  But I wonder how many of the people gazing with wonder at the Bicycle Chandelier spend any time at all considering the thinking behind it.  The art speaks of conditions in Weiwei’s homeland but its mesmerising beauty risks masking something of that for me.  I find myself so overwhelmed by the beauty of the repetitive patterns in the bicycles and also in his marble that I fear that it is too easy to forget the story behind it.

I still remember seeing his Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern back in 2010 and the stir which they caused.  When I visited the Tate it was still possible to interact with the seeds and people of all ages were to be seen lying in the installation, creating ‘sunflower seed angel pictures’ sieving them through their hands and simply sitting within the drifts of ceramic pieces.  But precisely how many of them were giving a single thought to the message behind them I wonder.  Correct me if I am wrong but is it not true that if one turns a comment into a thing of beauty or fascination, does one risk almost everyone missing the point?  And if I am correct, should art which speaks of ugly situations, such as the consequences of an earthquake or suppression of free speech be so beautiful?

My very first ‘grown up’ exhibition.

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The Private View at the Salisbury Open Ceramics Exhibition

This week I visited the beautiful city of Salisbury.  I arrived early for the private view at the Salisbury Arts Centre thinking that it would be good to have a little wander around the cathedral close and the market first.  Instead, by the time I got to the station, I was is such a state of jitters that I ended up making straight for the nearest well known high street coffee shop for a restorative cup of hot chocolate and a piece of Tiffin!  No size 12 in sight yet!

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I am so excited to be taking part.

I am not that great at going to things on my own so I was particularly relieved to be greeted by some good friends who I had no idea would be there – Thanks so much, Adam and Meredith, for helping me find my feet!  This is the first time, other than selling fairs and my college exhibitions, that I have put my work ‘Out There’.  I felt really rather exposed.

The show has been curated by Fiona Cassidy and selected by Professor Simon Olding, from the Craft Study Centre, and Sophie Cummings, from Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.  I am absolutely over the moon to be taking part.  There are 47 pieces in the exhibition; one of them is mine.  The variety of work is astounding. All of it is contemporary.  The imaginative work of Elise Menghini juxtaposed with that of Suzie Gutteridge who works in felt as well as ceramics and Martin Harman whose fabulously crisp thrown and joined forms are so different to my own work but truly beautiful and so skilled!  The exhibition, in an up-cycled church, is a real feast for the eyes and I would commend anyone with an interest in contemporary ceramics who is in the Salisbury area to visit it.  It is on until 14th November so you have plenty of time.  If you go, don’t forget to vote for your favourite piece!  I voted for Jo Taylor’s End of the Pier which you can see front left in one of my photographs.

For me the private view was a great evening.  Not only was I able to practice talking about my own work but I was able to network – I hate that expression – with other artists.  I met some great people and we talked a lot about ceramics, art and art in the landscape.  I was particularly intrigued by the ideas which had been offered by a project called Step In Stone.  This is currently taking place in Quarries in the Mendips in Somerset and finishes this weekend.  I am asking myself how I could possibly have missed it!  I would give my eye teeth to take part in a collaboration like that.  I think working alongside other artists who are all interpreting the same landscape through their chosen media for a chosen project would be my idea of heaven.

So I think that my plan for the New Year is going to be to approach all and sundry with the idea of setting up some kind of collaboration based on the landscape that I love – anyone want to join me?