The exhibition ended on Wednesday last week. It took less than an hour to take everything down.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I found out who the country wanted as the next Prime Minister.
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
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.
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
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
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.
I have now finished the video piece for the exhibition and here it is.
The video is based around the five interviews I made with five members of staff / wardens at the Shropshire Regimental Museum back in February for which they chose and discussed an object each from the Museum’s collection.
The video has three elements. Firstly, the background shows my response to the objects’ narratives in the form of images. Secondly, overlaying this I am making the objects in clay in an attempt to connect with the objects and the narratives through art. Thirdly, each part of the video starts with titles which illustrate responses to the objects by members of the public in the form of adjectives and nouns (rather than art, sculpture or images).
To me, the video is about the connections between objects and history, and how we can relate to those through various means: art, images or words.
I also painted pictures of the objects and the exhibition will consist of this video, the paintings and the clay objects made for the video. The paintings and the clay reflect my response to the objects through my need to make art as a way to channel an emotional response to an experience into something tangible. I painted because that is what I do best and that is how I naturally respond to experiences. I deliberately chose clay to complement the paintings, firstly, as I wanted to experiment with a medium I hadn’t used before, and secondly, because I felt that clay was a substance I connected with the First World War. When I think of clay and the First World War I think of words such as earth, basic, hands, brown, grey, closeness, mud, damp, messy, suffocating, claustrophobic, natural, rustic, raw and harsh.
I’m hoping to exhibit the ‘words’ from the public too in some way as I find words very powerful, and I think they can be a powerful art medium, just as powerful as paint, pen or clay.
My version of the Croix de Guerre
Further smaller paintings and clay replicas of the objects I encountered on my trips to visit interviewees for the History Makers project will also be in the exhibition.
One of the History Makers objects
I now have one month to put the exhibition together, promote it and plan the display to go in the regimental museum.
The exhibition space for this project has now been booked. It will be in a huge gallery / art studio on the lower flower of the Riverside Mall in Shrewsbury called Participate Contemporary Artspace CLC. The exhibition will run from the 9th May until 21st May and will include a video projection, paintings and clay figures. More details to follow as they unfold. I’m hoping to link the exhibition to the Shropshire Regimental Museum so I can encourage people their to visit my exhibition and visitors to the exhibition to visit the Museum. The main aim is to provoke thought and interest in the First World War. I will also link the exhibition to the History Makers project which is about working with children and older generations encouraging thought and dialogue on the First World War through objects.
Here is a photo of the gallery space as it appears now. Hopefully it will look a lot different by the end of April.