The end of the exhibition

The exhibition ended on Wednesday last week. It took less than an hour to take everything down.

The exhibition

The exhibition

However, the work will be on show at SCAT for the Summer Show in June (dates to follow).

Of course it was very sad and poignant for me to have to take it down as it also marked the end of my Foundation Degree at Shrewsbury College but it is only the end of this stage in my career as an artist and art student, so not a real end. The future beckons. I am still going to be working with the History Makers project, creating an animation based on their work and I will be updating on that project on this blog.

More from the exhibition

More from the exhibition

We had over 600 visitors to the exhibition so I hope that we were able to touch those people in some way, and leave them to ponder their relationship with objects from the past, specifically those of the First World War.

Onwards and upwards as ever.

Reflections on the first week of the exhibition

We’ve now had the exhibition up for just over a week and the visitor stats are as follows:

Day One: 167

Day Two: 67

Day Three: 53

Day Four: 58

Day Five: 58

Day Six: 62

Day Seven: 140

Total: 547

I feel very pleased with the response we’ve had so far, both in terms of footfall and comments.

Visitors we’ve had included: the current owner of Tanner’s Wine Merchants (the Tanner’s First World War jacket features in my video), local artists, an ex-university lecturer living on a narrow boat, a man who tweets for local events, a number of art students and students of other subjects, and many local shoppers. I’ve also been visitors by a good number of friends. I’ve also been interviewed and videoed for the History Makers project.

Feedback has been really positive. I’ve had comments such as: ‘this is as strong as the First World War artwork in the Theatre Severn’ (I’m not sure that is true but nice to hear), ‘strong colours’, ‘I love the green’, ‘thought provoking’, ‘I like the limited pallet’, ‘I love the reflection on the corned beef’, ‘This is really strong, solid’.

A visitor comment

A visitor comment

It is lovely to hear such comments. Upon realising that I was the artist of the First World War pieces, one visitor came to shake my hand and he said: ‘I love it, you have got something real there, you will go far’. That comment was the highlight of the exhibition for me.

Another comment

Another comment

We have three more days until we have to take it down. I feel that that will be a sad day for me.

Day Two – 67 visitors

Today was my first day of manning the exhibition and I had a little counter to count the visitors on. I was told by the venue owners that even if visitors just put their ‘toes’ or ‘nose’ through the door, they count. I was also advised that if they peer through the window and make a comment, they count. In addition, if they pause and read the poster, the count. I suspect the real count would be around 50 but with the ‘toes’ and ‘nose’ people included, this made a total of 67.

The thing to count people with

The thing to count people with

So who were the 67 visitors and what did they think of the exhibition? Some were intrigued, some were positive, and a few were a little negative (‘I don’t get all this modern art rubbish’). Many of the visitors were just passing or waiting for the bus (at least one guy told me he was waiting for his bus, which was late). Many were people who had gone to Wilko to buy DIY items (I saw more than one can of paint in a carrier bag).

A popular shop in Shrewsbury, opposite the exhibition

A popular shop in Shrewsbury, opposite the exhibition

I had a productive day. I managed to get a lot of paid work done.

I hope that on some level the visitors were left with some reflections on the objects of the First World War.

Perhaps tomorrow will bring something different.

 

Day One – 167 visitors

Saturday 9th May was the first day of the exhibition and during the hours of 10am and 4pm when the exhibition space was open to the public, the exhibition received 167 visitors. I was very pleased to hear that.

Tomorrow (Monday 11th) is my first day of manning the exhibition so if we get that many visitors, or even 100 or so, I will be very pleased.

Imagine the space filled with 167 people

Imagine the space filled with 167 people

At last – the day of the Private View

Friday 8th May arrived at last. I had been counting down to it for two weeks or so. It seemed a gloomy day which was ironic, since the majority had chosen to go blue. So where were the happy people? The weather was gloomy and the mood of the people I came across on that day seemed gloomy too.

The gloomy atmosphere made lighter by Maggie

The gloomy atmosphere made lighter by Maggie

In terms of preparation it was an easy day but we deliberately set up the day before to ensure that we built in a contingency if we needed it. We didn’t as it turned out. I spent the morning working and casually made my way to the exhibition 1.5 hours before the start of the Private View to set up the nibbles and make sure that everything was fine (it was).

The nibbles waiting to be nibbled

The nibbles waiting to be nibbled

I’d had a few cancellations (‘I stayed up all night watching the results and I’m so tired’) but it didn’t matter too much because as it turns out the Private View was very well attended (and we even had some random passers by coming in for free juice and crisps).

Empty wine glasses - before the people came

Empty wine glasses – before the people came

I really enjoyed the Private View and despite the talk mostly veering towards politics, had some great conversations with lots of interesting people. I had some great feedback too, which is what I needed. I find it hard to work without feedback from the public (I have family feedback and tutor feedback but that additional element really helps).

I not-so-secretly really enjoy showing off my art to the world. It was a childhood dream to have an opening night with champagne and canapes. We had white wine instead of champagne and corned beef sandwiches don’t quite classify as canapes but my dream has now been fulfilled (more than once now). The corned beef sandwiches, incidentally, went down very well.

All my corned beef sandwiches were eaten

All my corned beef sandwiches were eaten

I had also managed to find a Huntley and Palmers biscuit tin. I hope people got the references (even though the biscuits inside were not genuine).

My Huntley and Palmers tin

My Huntley and Palmers tin

It was a good end to a good week, and a very thought-provoking project. I hope the general public of Shrewsbury enjoy the exhibition. The next ten days will be interesting.

 

Setting up day

Thursday 7th May was a very important day for me. As well as the day when I had to put a cross on a piece of purple paper (I’m not sure why it was purple), it was the day for setting up the exhibition for ‘Traces’ in town.

One of my worries: what would the video project like on the wall?

One of my worries: what would the video project like on the wall?

I am exhibiting alongside a fellow student, Bill Sample, who’s on the same course as me and due to finish at the same time as me. His exhibition is called ‘Crow’ and is inspired by Ted Hughes’s series of poems about a crow.

Bill's exhibition - people will get two art experiences at the same time

Bill’s exhibition – people will get two art experiences at the same time

The hard part of Thursday began at 9am and finished at 5pm (and then I went to vote after that). It was a long day, made a little bit longer by the fact that I had two of my three children with me. However, they were very well behaved and actually quite helpful.

Paintings and nails everywhere

Paintings and nails everywhere

Setting up, although hard in terms of how long it took, went very smoothly. The projector worked, the paintings stayed up, the clay objects found a place to sit and we had enough nails and mirror plates (actually, we didn’t but the exhibition is conveniently opposite Wilko) and coffee to keep us going (there is a lovely coffee shop two doors down).

My invaluable help: husband and one of the two children

My invaluable help: husband and one of the two children

I was exhausted by the end of the day but also very relieved. It was up and running. I couldn’t have stayed up to watch the votes being counted. I was asleep by 10.30pm.

The clay on display

The clay on display

It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I found out who the country wanted as the next Prime Minister.

Three days to go…

The Bank Holiday weekend is behind me and now I really am counting down to the exhibition in very small numbers. I am concerned that I haven’t got enough to do. It feels strange not to be rushing around madly but perhaps that is a good sign. Perhaps that is a sign that I am more organised than I think. It just doesn’t feel right. It feels like that old cliche – the calm before the storm.

I think Thursday may be a manic day. I have a page-long list of ‘things to take’ for Thursday which includes things such as: white paint, small brush, poly-filler, wires, more wires, duct tape, spirit level, drill, screws and tape measure.

Setting-up day happens to fall on May 7th, which is also the day we go to the polls to chose the next government. As my sons’ school is being used as a polling station and therefore is unable to education children on that day, they are having to come with me to the exhibition space to ‘help’ me set up. I hope that they don’t get too bored.

May 7th will be a busy day for me as well as David, Nick, Ed and friends

May 7th will be a busy day for me as well as David, Nick, Ed and friends

I intend to bribe them with a highly-unhealthy meal from the building in Shrewsbury that is famous for being the oldest building in the world to house a McDonald’s (part of the building dates back to the 13th century).

The oldest building to house a McDonald's in the world

The oldest building to house a McDonald’s in the world

So I have two days to find all the aforementioned things: drill, spirit level, wires etc. I seem too confident that they will just appear tomorrow night. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh and I must also remember to take the artworks with me.

Six days to go…

Today I went to the Shropshire Regimental Museum to dress the display case they reserve for temporary displays. In the display I’ve included five prints of the five paintings I did of the objects chosen by the museum staff, five prints of the clay replicas of the objects, five word clouds of the adjectives visitors to the museum used to describe the five objects, four prints of the History Makers paintings and some information about my exhibition.

The SRM display cabinet

The SRM display cabinet

I was concerned initially that I didn’t have enough material but now that it is up I think it looks fine. Less can be more, at least that is my argument here. I hope that visitors to the museum will look at the display, feel intrigued by it, read the poster and my blurb, and pop over to see the exhibition.

One week to go…

The countdown to the exhibition begins now. I have finished the last piece of artwork and I have spent the last two weeks planning the exhibition (how to display the artwork, how to project the video and what to present to the public in terms of explanation).

One of the final paintings

One of the final paintings

The paintings are ready, the clay objects have been fired and they are ready, and the video is ready. I have a week to go. What have I forgotten to do?

Fired clay objects

Fired clay objects

I have spent most of the last two days pounding the streets of Shrewsbury persuading coffee shops, libraries, theatres and museums to display my poster or fliers. I have also posted ad nauseum on Facebook and Twitter. It is this part of preparing for an exhibition that I openly moan about but secretly quite enjoy. I enjoy bugging my friends about how they simply must come to the exhibition. I like seeing the poster in shop windows. I like checking a press release for typos. I think I know why this is. It is because it makes me feel ever so slightly famous. I quite like the idea of being ever so slightly famous, even if it is an illusion.