08 June 2010

Before, during, and after

Now that I'm back home, on my own computer and able to blog, here's a summary of the days of setting up the exhibition, and the first days of the show.

If you take the no.6 bus and walk two blocks down Harlesden Road, this is your first view of the gallery - Aren't those golden balls glorious against the blueblue sky? We were lucky to have sunshine at last, but I can't omit a mention of what felt like a lot of heat and humidity. Keeping both doors open made for a nice breeze through the gallery, which set the little "sky boats" swaying. Here they are, still being put up -
The "travel blankets" are in place, and on the plinth is The Moth's Journey
This wall near the back door combines Tony's moody photos of White Sands, New Mexico, and my "The Weather along the Way" pieces (12"/30cm square, sewn onto 10"/25cm square deep canvases) -
A flotilla along the (entire) window ledge has joined the sky boats -
In the cabinets, arranged to protect the original Journey piece, are some TravelWriting, some porcelain "ladders", the Cargo Boats, and the spooky steps -
The doors of the cases have been removed to allow taking out the pieces and having people hold and handle them -
I spent nearly 3 hours on Friday afternoon sewing a selection of A4-sized journal quilts to 30x40cm watercolour paper (fits a standard frame), adding title and signature, and then putting them into acetate sleeves. They are priced at £40 - yes yes, tooooo little! - and several went to new homes almost immediately -
5.30 - getting ready for the private view - to see the sailing photos on the back wall, go to Tony's website
Taking a moment to pose (and breathe) -
5.45 - Thomas, who has spent all day on a ladder painting upstairs windows, puts up more Sky Boats in the neglected corner -
On the desk area, my 7"x10" "journalling" pieces, which incorporate fabric printed with TravelWriting lines. These were so much fun to make. The basket holds copies of the TravelWriting, made into two sizes of book, available to purchase and take home - and lots of my home-made "business cards". Above the sink area you might recognise the Fissures quilt that I left on a train on the way to Festival of Quilts, all those years ago (and that a kind stranger restored to me) - it's stitching shows migrations, if that's how you want to see it.

8.30 - the evening sun slants in through the back door; the party is in full swing -
People are drinking and chatting, mixing and mingling -
Gone 9pm - time to go homeAfter the excitement of the opening party, we spent Saturday at the gallery, offering visitors home-made cake. The glasses are ready for another party that evening -
...at which I had a great time talking to many of the artists who live in the streets around the gallery - but even that came to an end -
The show runs till 26 June, with the "meet the artists and have some cake" event every Saturday - so if you can make the trek to London NW10, please drop by. Details are on the Artisan website.

Some thoughts about the process of having an exhibition:
1. A lot of small, fiddly, trivial-but-important things are involved. You need a checklist....
2. You need adequate time to prepare the work.
3. Don't just "hope for the best" - try it out at home. (Hanging those Sky Boats was a nightmare!)
4. Think carefully about prices. Have a price for everything!
5. Have a list of work that people can take away with them. If it has photos, all the better.
6. Have small pieces that people can buy and take home immediately.
7. Start setting up as soon as possible - and finish setting up as soon as possible.
8. Publicity should be done weeks & weeks ahead, and continue. It will take a lot of time to do adequate publicity; fortunately Tony had time to do it while I continued making work.
9. Enjoy the opening!

I found talking about my work much easier than I feared - and even enjoyed it. Largely, it was a matter of telling the same stories to different groups of people - about what inspired the work, how it was made, and sometimes what it "meant" (usually I answered that question with "what do you see and think of when you look at it" and we went from there). I was thrilled that they were really interested in this - especially when I handed them one of the spooky steps or a bit of TravelWriting to hold and turn over and look at closely.

Next, now that I'm back home and the day stretches ahead -- studio cleanup, visits to degree shows and exhibitions that end soon - and making some more of those fun pieces that have the printed TravelWriting and bright sparks of colour.


Sandra Wyman said...

Congratulations - looks really good and worth all the hard work - wish I could get down to see it in the flesh!

Betty Sellers said...

Hi Margaret - Congratulations to you and Tony on your exhibition. May there be many more to come... I would love to have seen in in the "real". Looks great!


Julie said...

Congratulations on a successful opening Margaret. The exhibition looks wonderful.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Fabulous and congrats on a successful opening. What a lot of work, and thanks for letting us in on the behind the scenes preparations. Your check list is right on! More work than I would want to take on right now. There's so much variety here - a feast for the patrons' eyes!

Jamie Fingal said...

Congratulations Margaret. What a beautiful setting for all of the artwork. Love your checklist. Wishing you great success for all those cake Saturdays...and more!

Cindi said...

Margaret--what a fabulous venue--great foil for a beautiful show. Congrats on the exhibit, the sales, and the direction you're working in--really intruguing! Cindi Huss.

PaMdora said...

Looks a like a wonderful show. It is a lot of work to pull one off, but you have a beautiful space to exhibit, and looks well-attended too. Congratulations!

Dorothy Russell said...

Hello Margaret, Thank you for showing us your exhibition.I live on Anglesey and rarely get to London so it's good to see your lovely work and also to have a photo of you - now when I read your post to the Yahoo group I'll have an image to go with your name and the ever interesting links you give us. Thank you, Dorothy Russell

Unknown said...

Congratulations Margaret, Super venue to display your work and it all looks good. Enjoy the rest of the exhibition run, especially when you can talk to visitors. Taking it down is the easy bit! Well done, Chris Dixon.