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.

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    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)

 

Planning my For-ever Studio

It’s a scary thought but the studio that I am planning at the moment is meant to last me a lifetime!  So I kind of need to get it right.  Previously there has been an element of making do with the space that I had and be thankful for having it.

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Not much room to throw a pot here!

The space I have in which to work has grown over time from half a little tiny space to the whole of that space to double that space.  But it has never been my space – someone else has held the lease; determined where the lighting, cupboards, windows were; made unhealthy decisions on the amount of insulation that artists need in the walls and floors of their work-space!  (I know where the cold goes when the weather warms up in Cornwall now – My studio is the original heat sink!)

 

This time, I am going to have to decide for myself where are the best places for work surfaces, cupboards, the sink and the shelves.

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Not much of a view!

Windows and plumbing are already sorted – I didn’t want a great view because I knew that it would distract me and I did want great plumbing because I know what clay does to U bends!  But the rest of it!  So much space, so many possibilities!

 

If you visit the Victoria and Albert Museum you can see a mock-up of Lucy Rie‘s studio.  It is quite a compact space – much smaller than I am about to have – and within it she created the most beautiful work.  Size is not everything!  So I need to bear in mind that it is not where you create but what you create that is important.  I do not want to let the new super-space to go to my head but, on the other hand, given that I can arrange it as I want, I might as well have it as I want it.  Decisions, decisions!

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Lucy Rie making magic in her Studio.

On Vessels.

I have often wondered why one of my great loves does not influence my ceramics.  After all, my work is about vessels which carry a story.  So why does my love of sailing not come in somewhere?  The answer escapes me but, in a week where progress in the studio has been just that – progress – and we have had our first outing of the year in Annika, I decided not to write for the sake of it and instead to share with you the two aspects of my love for vessels.

 

polishing bonanza

During a week of serious preparation for the up coming exhibition in East Molesey I have been having a polishing bonanza. 

 

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Annika:  This was taken last summer in warmer conditions but we did enjoy a quick once round the Manacle Buoy and then back home under spinnaker in a lovely 17 knots of breeze yesterday.

 

 

 

Reasons To Be Cheerful . . . . .

Things have been a bit strange since the Open Studios in November.  There have been some massive highs, some horrible lows and everything in between.  To cut a long story short I have decided that I am going to bring forward the moving of my studio to Cornwall.  The building plans are no further forward but I don’t want to work in London for various reasons and so I am going to rent a studio on the Roseland until my own studio is ready sometime next summer.

I have agonised over this.  Things have been taking off in London and I didn’t want to lose out just as it was going so well.  However, I have given myself a stiff talking to; pointed out to myself that, if I am any good, I don’t need the big smoke; gone for one of my favourite walks on a fabulous December afternoon and reminded myself that I have a lot to be thankful for.

With somewhere such as this to inspire me why would I not want to hasten my westerly migration!

To paraphrase the words of Paulo Nutini I have the view from my window and a nice warm bed; I have a great place to work and a bucket full of mud; I have some great ideas and a nice warm kiln; but most of all, I’ve got my Roseland!

Will You Still Love Me?

There is a move afoot to go and live in Cornwall properly this summer.  I am extremely excited about this – I have handed in my notice for my teaching post and, whist I will miss the lovely children that I teach 3 days per week, I am very excited about the future . . . . .

Well, I think I am!  I love Cornwall.  It is, to all intents and purposes, my home anyway and the Roseland Peninsular is calling me in no uncertain terms.

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The Roseland Peninsular is calling me.

But, and it is a very big but, what will happen to my ceramics?

 

Eventually I will have a studio in St Mawes.  I have the planning permission for it, it will be easy to reach whenever I want to pop in for a few hours or just for 10 minutes to check on the kiln, I wont have to drive through the London traffic taking up to an hour to go about 6 miles, I can sip my coffee gazing at the weather coming in over the Lizard.  What’s not to like?

Absolutely nothing!  Except, it is a risk isn’t it – this jumping off the rat race.  Wimbledon offers me so much.  It may cost a bit but it gives me easy access to a fabulous customer base without whom I would have stopped playing with clay long ago.  The twice yearly Open Studios, the next one of which is coming up in May, regularly sees 4-5 thousand people come through the doors.  The feedback which they provide on the work they see in your studio is invaluable and the purchases that they make are extremely affirming of the effort which one puts in for the rest of the year.  In addition,  when the feeling leaves me and I don’t know what to do, there is always the kettle.

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Wimbledon Artists Studios gives me so much of what I need as an artist.

You can usually find someone to bounce and idea off, share a moment of frustration with or simply ask how they are doing.  Then off you go, back to work feeling a release from the doubt or what ever was bugging you.  In addition to that, the is Klay.  Our new baby is growing fast.

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Klay is doing so well.

It has done so well in the short time that it has been in operation that the 12 of us had a long and deep discussion this week about what happens when we get to the end of our three months popping up in Camden.  I want to be a part of this project.  I believe that it has a great deal of mileage and, judging by the response that we are getting from our customers and also from Camden itself (whose generosity allowed us to get up and popping in the first place), I am not alone in this belief.

 

It seems to me that I ma going to need to find some way of having it all!