Choosing what to display in your very first exhibition is a bit like a child to walking into a fully stocked sweet store and saying to them ‘choose one item’.
I’m not saying my work is of such a high standard that its all worthy of being exhibited, but truth be known I do like it all. You see this Photography and Video Art degree course has taken me on a journey of discovery and I’m exploring art in a totally new way to anything I’ve ever done before. Thus each new piece I create I’m proud of and I don’t favour one piece over another.
The trip to the London galleries recently helped me focus on display issues, lighting factors, image sizes and the overall ‘feel’ of the exhibition, in particular the emotions that maybe felt by our audience as they walk through our exhibits.
So I focussed first on my pieces that evoke an emotional reaction. This was not easy as the projects are all emotion based. The first is a reflection of the ultimate fate for our planet if we don’t stop cutting down trees faster than we plant them. Next is a comment on the rapid growth of the fast food industry, and thus the speculated demise of our beauty spots. Lastly, a photo set on the intriguing world of the paranormal and the mystery of ghosts and mediums.
Add to that my two videos, ‘IF’ a modern look at a Victorian poem, and ‘On Sontag’ a satirical snapshot of writer Susan Sontag and what to leave in or out became quite a task. Further to this we were told we could also exhibit work from the first year – Agh!
The other aspect to consider was the shows title ‘Inglorious Artists’. This dictated that at least some of the works should fit this theme.
My two strongest sets were my gas masked eco warrior and my ‘faked’ ghost and medium. Looking at the first set there were four montages I created in the first year of which two may enhance the sole eco warrior image when shown as a triptych. The two concerned were outside shots of a blend of derelict industrial buildings. When put with eco warrior they almost fitted as a panorama. Removing the brown cast from eco warrior the three black and white images became quite strong.
The images were lost though when placed on the wall, they needed to be re-sized to A2 to have the best impact.
The second set the ghosts and medium I decided worked best as a variety of sizes. The set when viewed in the right sequence, tell the story of a medium calling in ghosts.
As the route the public will take through the exhibition means they will be walking towards the end wall of the room, the first image of this set (A2 size) is a black and white image of me pretending to be a medium, spaced apart from the triptych. Next are four individual A3 portraits of ‘ghosts’ . Finally, a single large A0 size colour image of me as a medium surrounded by ghosts will be the only image on the end wall.
The moody lighting and the dark walls will add to an almost ‘Haunted House look’ and will enhance the effect of the set. I’m even considering adding spooky music….
With this in mind and the fact that the other artists are putting no more than three pieces (or sets) on show, I decided that Cut Up was one set I wasn’t going to show.
So I am left with the decision as to which of my three videos to show. Christmas Turkey (year 1) Sontag or IF (year 2). I decided on IF as it matched the overall ‘Time’ theme of my work. The ‘Dead Earth’ series representing the Future, ‘Whispers in The Dark’ representing the Past and ‘IF’ representing the Present.
With the work plotted out in my head I now had the task of working out what sizes of images would ‘work’ in the venue. A great image could be lost in the space if its not large enough, or conversely, drown the space if too large. With the wall area we had there was also the problem of spacing. I asked myself the question, where was the best place on the wall for each image?
My solution was to use newspaper. By sizing newspaper to the rough size of each of my images and lightly tacking them on the wall with Blue tak, I could easily imagine how the exhibition would look. Moving the newspaper up, down, left or right I eventually focused on the best location for each set to ‘greet and engage’ the viewer.
Unfortunately we lost the Galaxy venue at the last moment forcing us to repeat the whole exercise again in the new venue. No full explanation was ever given, all we were told was that it was a legal issue.
In the Departure Lounge Gallery the dynamics of the space were different and the casualty was one ‘Medium’ image from the Ghost set being dropped. It just didn’t work with the other images in the set in the space. Its difficult to write what I mean by this, but it was more a like a decision made by a film editor to cut a scene. My exhibition ‘flowed’ better without this image in the new space.
The work was mounted on the wall using ‘command strips’ (a cross between velcro and blu tak) which for the large A0 print took several strips to fix it to the wall. (I didn’t use enough initially and the print fell off damaging it in one corner.)
As I was sharing a room with the video projector, thus low light conditions, I supplemented the lighting with some angle poise desk lamps. Two lamps pointed up, one lamp I managed to point down by fixing a long strip of wood and bolting the lamp to the end. I was pleased with the final look, and from the positive comments we received the public thought so too.