Generally David seemed happy with my second assignment where I presented my draft proposal for my exhibition He felt that an exhibition would be a suitable medium for presenting my BoW work and it’s probably not necessary to produce a book I parallel as this might dilute my efforts. He did, however, suggest that the site, format and content of the exhibition should be determined by the direction I see my work going after the course.
In my budgeting I need to include my time and costs even if it’s “free” since it is good practice should I need to attempt to secure funding or, more precisely, reciprocal funding at some point in the future. One way of looking at it is “I’m donating my time so there is a monetary value associated with it.”
I discussed with David whether foam board or Foamex was a suitable medium for the exhibition since I wanted to avoid glass due to the inconsistent lighting in the venue. He suggested that it would be suitable and allayed my concerns that it might appear to “amateurish”. As he said, it all comes down to how I want to show my work and he suggested that a chat with Genesis might be advantageous. He also agreed that glass could be a risk in poor lighting conditions. David also suggested using aluminium instead of Foamex but, again, I’m worried about the lighting conditions. David also recommended the book Exhibiting Photographs by Shirley Read which I’ve subsequently read and it’s incredibly useful. I wish that I’d read it at the start of this module.
Another really useful point that David raised was that whenever something goes on an exhibition wall it looks smaller than you expect. As a result, I’ll increase the size of the images that I intend to take down to check the lighting and positioning before I get them printed in their final form. I’ve been down to look at the Old Court’s current exhibition again and David is right. The images on display are in frames that are just smaller than A2 and the images themselves are no more than A3. I’ve now decided that my border-less prints will need to be the size of the frames or even larger if they are not to be lost on the wall.
I should not get too hung up about the quality of the final print (within reason obviously). David used the example of camera phone images that have been over-enlarged. On a gallery wall most views are from a distance where the pixelation is not apparent. At that distance the image is all, dependant on the work and the audience. When I think back to some of the exhibitions that I’ve attended, both amateur and professional, it makes total sense.
A useful comment from David for any specialist photographer – “More people will hate your work than will love it” which is useful to remember. In other words – develop a thick skin! It’s an interesting comment because I used to address IT conferences all over Europe and the USA. When doing this my views and lectures might conflict with the established practice of the companies or organisations whose employees were attending. It was something that I learnt, that I had to be able to defend my comments, either at the conference or subsequently. Here, there is very little opportunity to defend my work since it’s much more subjective. Any viewer’s negative comments, in general at least, are valid.
As an aside, David subsequently commented – “Not that I am suggesting anyone would hate your work of course” 🙂
It’s important to decide what I want to do afterwards in terms of photography and that must determine the location of the exhibition. Whichever the location, I would be remembered at that site for the work of my first portfolio so there is a danger of returning with a different genre. This aligns with my intention to exhibit the BoW work at the local Arts Centre which is a focus for local art in Windsor. It is also associated with the annual Windsor Arts Festival so provides a continuation of the local publicity and engagement. Subsequently, having gained experience with this location, I will host a larger wildlife exhibition at a gallery that has national associations, and which would market the exhibition nationally. It’s important to look at the profile of the visitors (or prospective buyers) so I feel that this split, of local and national, works with this approach, local visitors at a local centre for the BoW work to promote the Great Park and the wildlife exhibition could be held elsewhere with a larger, non-local and transient footfall.
So, its a case of taking these very useful comments on board and moving forward!