This week a dear friend introduced me to Simon Jenkin’s book England’s Thousand Best Churches. She did this shortly after I had introduced her to one of the gems of the Roseland Peninsular, the thirteenth century church at St Just in Roseland. I am particularly fond of this church and so it is one of the places which, when showing visitors for the first time, I take great care to approach from the right direction. We walked out along the Bar, a spit of shingle which reaches across the creek, so that she could see the church across the water. She was appropriately impressed. A series of ‘wow’s and other appreciative sounds confirmed this. Later we walked round and into the church. It is a beautiful and interesting place full of peace and history. Its creek-side setting and semi-tropical gardens are the icing on the cake.
I was astonished that Jenkins only gives St Just one star and have resolved to explore some of the Cornish churches to which he awards 4 stars in order to compare and contrast. Turning to the page for the Roseland churches I was shocked. None of them merit more than one star and Jenkin’s summary of the Roseland is ‘A secret annex which might just as well be called Going Nowhere!’ I would like to add to that, please, Mr Jenkins.
The Roseland is steeped in history and tales of daring do; its coast is rugged and yet gentle at the same time; its geology is fascinating; its villages have their hearts in tact because they still have sufficiently large residential populations, having been blighted slightly less than some parts of Cornwall by people who own houses but only use them for a few weeks a year. I could go on and on but, given that one of its charms is that people leave it alone to some extent, I won’t tempt them!
Having given Jenkin’s remarks some time to filter through my tatty brain I appreciate their accuracy. Geography makes his comments completely accurate. Apart from a couple of ferries there is literally one road in and one road out.
You don’t come to the Roseland unless you meant to – and I meant to! It gives me a sense of well being. It is my playground. It inspires my work and I am truly glad that I now have the opportunity to live and work here.
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:
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.
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.