My newest challenge has been consuming all my time lately, hence the long absence from my blog. I've ventured into the realms of curating for the 'Make yourself @ home' exhibition which will be part of the St Margaret's House Open week programme of exhibitions, open studios, workshops and events, launching on Friday 11th October.
The idea has been brewing for quite some time and is largely based on my experience of running my own shows, combined with my years working to develop creative approaches to community engagement, the rationale being:
- The conventional ‘white cube’ art gallery environment can sometimes be intimidating to those not used to it
- People want to buy art but aren’t always sure how to go about it or find it hard to imagine in their homes
- Potential buyers often like to know more about the artist as well as the work - we need ways to bring artists/makers and buyers together
- Create an environment which suggests the domestic, which makes visitors feel comfortable and ‘@home’
- Set the scene with furniture, props, lighting and sound throughout the gallery, evoking different parts of the home – e.g. a bed you can lie on to view a digital gallery projected on the wall, a sofa to sit on with a tv to show artists’ and makers’ images, a dining table where you can sit on handmade chairs, displaying ceramics, textiles etc., a desk with PC to view artist/makers websites, displaying handmade books, shelves etc.
- It’s not the intention to create a ‘showhome’ in the gallery, more to allow participants to show their work in an environment that hints of home but celebrates the original and the handmade
- Be open and clear about selling and buying, make it easy for visitors to buy, easy for artists/makers to connect with potential buyers
- To enable visitors to relate to fine and applied arts as something they would have in their homes
- To showcase the work of some of St Margaret's House tenants and to hopefully sell some artwork to people who will love it.
So those were the ideals I set out with and I now have a selection of works from over 20 artists and makers to feature in the show. I also have loan of a bed, a sofa and even the toilet, which I'm hoping will create some hilarity as visitors perch on the pan to admire the 'view from the loo'!
Hanging an exhibition is a task not to be underestimated. It's never as straightforward as you imagine and there are decisions to be made which shouldn't be rushed, since hanging a group show means finding the best way to do justice to everyone's work and allowing the artworks to 'speak' to each other. A curator's job is a subtle and sophisticated one - I'm only just beginning to learn how much I have to learn! I'll be curating my first large group show in the autumn and very much hope to be ready for the challenge.
There are four of us showing in Wood nude tree limb and it's been a long hot week with some very hard work but I'm pleased to day that (almost) everything is ready for our preview tonight. Just a bit of cleaning and tidying to be done, a few admin jobs and trying to stay cool when you're excited about the show and it's 27 degrees outside!
We spent most of last night placing Allan's sculpture, which was much harder than I expected - in this view it's not quite finished but we're getting there. The three dimensional work really brought the show together and made me smile when walked in to the gallery with fresh eyes after going back to the studio.
I'll be sitting in the gallery during the week so I expect I'll notice things that could be improved, both about my work and its presentation. I love having this opportunity to reflect and review, perhaps it's the nature of the creative mind always looking for a better way?
There's just a month to go before my next exhibition, a joint one with three other artists who share my fascination with natural form. It's at Art's Complex and opens with a preview on Friday 12th July, then runs for just over a week. The gallery is open to the public between 10am and 6pm.
Find out more at the exhibition blog»
Old contorted oaks at the base of Burbage Edge near Sheffield.
It was a relaxed but very informative first day at the 'Shadows and Ghosts' event, the rain held off for our site visits and the hightlight for me were these amazing oaks, with their mossy confusion of branches. I managed a very swift drawing - I'll be back here with more paper and more time!
I'm on my way south to sunny Sheffield!
Sheffield may not seem like the obvious place to hold a conference about old trees - it's such a lively, youthful feeling city I think, probably because much was destroyed in wartime bombing so the buildings are relatively recent. It's also had a huge investment in its public spaces with some amazing public art, as well as the trams of course.
It's a city I know quite well having grown up next door in Derbyshire and having a sister living there now. And because it's so close to the Peak National Park there is actually very easy access to some really interesting wooded landscapes which I'm hoping to find out more about at the 'Shadows and Ghosts: Lost woods in the landscape' event this weekend, hosted by Sheffield Hallam University.
There's a field trip to two sites on Friday and a busy programme of speakers and discussions all day Saturday so my head will be buzzing with new knowledge and crazy ideas on the train home on Sunday, which will help to feed my work for the coming months.
So here I am in my native habitat nestled amongst the honeysuckle, rewarding myself with a nice cup of tea after some drawing and feeling very pleased to have been offered a solo show at the Meffan Gallery next year.
Angus council's museum and art gallery is in the busy town of Forfar and it's a lovely space to exhibit in. I'm really excited about the opportunity to think big and have plenty of time to work towards the show, which will be October/November time 2014.
I'm just starting to research some possible drawing sites in the area so that I'll be prepared to make the most of the late Autumn drawing season - it's all getting a bit leafy now so I'll be concentrating on studio work over the summer and waiting for the wind to blow in October to reveal some new trees to fall in love with!
I'm a member of the Society of Scottish Artists - just an 'Ordinary' one you understand but it feels quite special to see my new profile amongst all these creative people's work.
It's an artist led organisation with some very active (and very busy!) members, who put a huge amount of time and effort into shows, events and support structures for artists like their facebook page and lovely new website.
Making art can be a lonely activity sometimes, but the SSA shows what can be achieved when we work together!Tags:
I had my first visit to the Buy Design Gallery today and what a wonderful place for anyone who appreciates wood, art, original design and fine craftsmanship. It's in some gorgeous borders countryside, next to the Harestanes Visitor Centre, near Jedburgh. Owner Eoin Cox is a man who's been making a difference in the world as well as making beautiful furniture - check out his website to see his work. He and his team also run woodworking courses at the gallery, encouraging you to have a go yourself too.
I dropped off some drawings and pastels today and I'm really excited to be working with the gallery - I think I'll be getting to know the A68 a bit better from now on!
I'm very excited to be attending a conference in May entitled 'Shadows and ghosts: Lost woods in the landscape'.
Hosted by Sheffield Hallam University, it aims to "to review and develop ideas around ancient trees, ancient woods, wood pasture and the ideas of shadows, ghosts and retired veterans" and I'm hoping it will deepen my knowledge and understanding of the old trees I draw. I'm also really looking forward to meeting some new people who share my interest - perhaps even develop some ideas for new projects over a refreshing Sheffield pint!
...must come down - after being my temporary home for ten days, Gallery 3 in Art's Complex is empty again and my show 'Damaged woods' is safely packed away in the studio.
Thanks to all those lovely people who came to see the show and engage in such interesting conversations. I love to hear what people think when they view my work and I'm pleased that so many find it as emotionally powerful to look at as I do to make.
What's next? A period of reflection and some experimentation, particularly trying some different surfaces to work on, on a larger scale. Also on the horizon is the Open Studios event and exhibition in early December.