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)

 

Cornwall Here I come.

There is a lot going on at the moment but little to show for it because everything is half finished so I think the best thing is just to share the news that I have been taken on by a lovely gallery in Cornwall.

Tregony is known as the gateway to the Roseland Peninsular.  It is an ancient town with its roots going right back to pre-Norman times which now sits at the lowest ‘solid crossing’ of the River Fal, fifteen miles from the sea. Below here it is a case of take the ferry or swim.  The main road is unusually wide – a reflection of the time when the river was navigable to here and Tregony was a busy port.

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Tregony Clocktower.

Now the river is silted up by outflow from agriculture, tin streaming and the china clay industry and it is a tranquil place.  It is also a great place for me to exhibit my work and I could not be more excited about my new relationship with Tregony Gallery.

The gallery is in relatively new ownership.  Judith and Brian Green have been living in Tregony for years but only recently took over the gallery and have worked hard to brighten it and give is a fabulous contemporary look.

I visited them last time I was down and I took the first of my series relating to the Cornish mining industry to show them.  They seemed keen and asked to hang onto it for their summer show.  Imagine my delight when I looked on their website to see my piece in pride of place! Tregony Gallery seems to be the perfect place for me to dip my toe in the waters of the art world in Cornwall, given my love of the Roseland and the link between my work and the mining industry.  I am looking forward to a long and happy relationship with the Greens.

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Coming soon to Tregony Gallery.

Busman’s Holiday

Ah, I love Cornwall!  I love the coasts and villages; I love the people; I love the rugged beauty of the moors and the intimacy of the narrow lanes, which are currently looking particular spectacular fringed as they are with drifts of cow parsley, foxgloves and red campion.

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The hedgerows and road verges are so colourful at the moment.

 

It has been such a treat to travel around with no time pressure visiting artists in their lairs and chatting to them about life, art and Cornwall. Not being able to get into my own studio and knowing that this is a time for just lapping up the atmosphere has been so relaxing.  Who could ask for more?

I began close to home on the Roseland where, much to my surprise, I discovered only one artist was taking part in Cornwall Open Studios. Carol O’Toole and I happily whiled away the time in her  studio in Tregony.  What a lovely lady!  She made me feel so good about my decision to move to Cornwall.  I showed her my work, which happened to be in the car, and she showed me hers.

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Carol O’Toole: a fabulous mix of print and paint.

I love the fact that she, like me, does not stick to the rules.  In her case this results in delicious combinations of print and paint which work brilliantly together.

Later in the week I prowled further afield, crossing the ferry and trekking into the wilds of Feock and Mylor Bridge to gaze with admiration at Lucy Spink’s jewellery – Just as well she does not have any kind of facility for taking credit cards or I might have parted with a fair bit of money – and the print makers Jenny and Sarah Seddon.  Despite having committed a dreadful error here and failed to read the booklet properly, the Seddons were not officially open on the day I went, the welcome I received was as warm as any and the work was enthralling.  I would not have minded staying with the Seddons all day!

Of course I had to drop in on Paula Downing whose work I had seen at Truro Museum and who I really wanted to meet.  She could not have been more friendly and, despite the fact that she was actually trying to run a workshop at the time, was happy to chat about the ceramics scene in Cornwall and sounded genuinely interested to meet a fellow manipulator of clay.  Paula’s light and airy studio felt like a tree house.  You look out of the large windows across the valley of the River Fal and see nothing but a canopy of deciduous woodland.  How she gets any work done is a mystery to me – I would spend all day gazing at the wildlife!

My overall impression of the Cornwall Open Studios is that, whereas in Wimbledon we get around 4000 visitors in 4 days, life is hectic and the opportunities come to us, the artists in Cornwall get nothing like those numbers in 10 days.  Here the visitors have to make quite an effort to seek out the studios (I got lost more than once) and the artists have to make a massive effort too.  Tea, cake and hospitality were on hand wherever I went and

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Some of the settings were simply glorious.

some of the settings were simply glorious.  Most importantly, those who had grouped together with more than one artist in a building seemed to have a real advantage and were clearly receiving a disproportionately higher number of visitors.