making an exhibition of ourselves
Part of my duties here at the RVACC is organising the art and crafts exhibitions. Some run over one month, but most span two months, allowing greater time for the public to visit and for associated educational opportunities. Also, quite frankly, the amount of work it takes to host an exhibition – as any other gallery manager or curator will tell you – is substantial, and when your job also involves booking and organising music/theatre events, creative learning programme, as well as managing the Centre, you need space to breathe between shows.
You start out by sourcing and researching exhibitions – of course, the time to do this is sometimes a luxury but a necessity nevertheless. Then comes the hot pursuit and the administration, organising the artwork transport, confirming insurance, negotiating content and pricing, acquiring artist and artwork information for advance publicity. For some of our exhibitions, I purposely develop associated promotional marketing material, such as programmes and posters. Invitations are also developed with designers and issued to our mailing list and selected guests requested by the exhibiting artist. And then, of course, comes the organisation of each exhibition launch.
What has been wonderful for me, is witnessing how the exhibitions in the Centre are noticed and appreciated by other members of the team. Some of whom are unused to working in an environment that includes art exhibitions, and the novelty of ever-changing gallery walls is always a surprise! Only I really know what’s coming next. When the gallery walls are bare between shows, we’re all chomping at the bit for the next shows to go up and most of the team comment on favourite artworks or raise an eyebrow for the more conceptual work. All is accepted in good grace.
Once the artwork arrives, then we give ourselves a good few days to work on an exhibition. Billy, our Duty Officer, will carefully unwrap and present all the work in the gallery spaces, and then I spend some time getting to know the work, to see what will go where and what works best with what. Once I place the show, Billy begins hanging all the artwork, which remains so time-consuming, despite our brilliant hanging system (thanks to Picture hanging Systems Ltd).
I then work on the individual gallery List of Works and Artist Statements, displayed alongside every show and offering the visitor as much background information as I can on both the artwork displayed and also about the artist or group exhibiting. Artist Statements are always a tricky thing – I prefer the language and ideas conveyed to be straightforward and communicative. I try and make the galleries as welcoming as possible. Hence, you won’t see black minimalist seating in our galleries – Instead, we have multi-coloured seating and beanbags. Many exhibitions, if suitable, will also have a small area of children’s tables and chairs allowing visiting families to take a breather and for the kids to work on art and drawing inspired by the current show.
Out of the seventeen art exhibitions I have organised since we opened in October 2010, approximately 70% have has local themes or have been by local artists. It is very important that our gallery programme combines quality local and international art, encouraging local communities to visit, but also making our mark on the wider Northern Irish art scene.
So, we have a varied exhibitions programme. With Victoria taking care of the heritage exhibitions and my art/crafts exhibitions, we try and ensure there are plenty of ongoing shows of interest for many. Judging by our gallery visitor book comments, we’re not doing too badly, either!This entry was posted on January 20th, 2012 at 10:38 am by Desima