Hanging my work is something that I’ve never been to precious about. I’m more than happy to bang a couple of nails in the wall or drill some screws into a painting and that be it. Funnily enough, for someone who is so protective over her work when it comes to exhibiting it I take little to know care when displaying it. I’ve even sued masking tape just to tape my work up before. Some people are so particular about how their work is exhibited but I guess it’s just something I’ve never been worried about. I worry about layout and what paintings are put up but how they’re put up there doesn’t interest me.
So it only seemed fitting for the degree show that I applied the same non-nonchalance(ness) that I’ve had all year. For some of the work I put screws in the wall and used to D-rings to hang the canvas on these. This worked really well for the canvases and was quite easy to do (practicality and cost wise). For the other works I decided to do something which I have discussed in my sketchbooks; I wanted to use bull-dog clips to suspend the smaller paintings that were on MDF board and I also wanted to use it to suspend the center canvas.
For the canvas in the center I had a few ideas of how to suspend it. I initially wanted to keep it on the stretcher but when I tried this and tried hanging it it came too far away from the wall and looked very “off”. When put with the other paintings it looked quite out of place. So I decided to take it off the stretcher and suspend it that way. I wanted the fabric to kind of drape over the wall and have a un-done and unfinished element to it. My work always has an unfinished element to it and I shouldn’t lose that quality for the sake of an exhibition.
I tried this and it worked really well and I thought that I was finished with the hang.
On further inspection of the hanging the bull dog clips just looked of place. When I used this method in my 2nd year it worked really well and I think it was because the space where I was hanging my work last year was much smaller. I think because this space is bigger and because of the formality of the degree show it doesn’t work well in conjuncture with the bull dog clips. The clips are very shiny and pristine and as I have mentioned before my work is not. It is raw and unfinished. The white walls, finished floor, uniformity of the layout works very well with the work. The formality of the space works well with the informality of the my work; they compliment and contrast each other perfectly. But to hang my work in a pristine way would do it an injustice I think, it would also provide too much formal. Although, in theory the bull dog clips are a very lay way of hanging the work and in theory this should echo the unfinished/studio element to my exhibted work, because they are silver and look very shiny it distracts attention from the work and it also confuses the viewer. There is no real reason for them to be there other than I thought they would look good; this confuses the viewer as well because there is no evident reason that they can see for them to be there.
I decided to get rid of the bull dog clips and the big nails and I decided to just use little pin nails to hang up the MDF board and to hang the center canvas material. I thought pin nails would be much more understated. They suspend the work on the wall without distracting attention away form the work. You end up looking at the work rather than the way it is hung or the layout of it. I want as much attention to be on the work as possible; I want the viewer to see the work and to not be distracted by the wall or by the method of hanging. This benefits the work greatly and makes it more simpler for the viewer to look at. whereas before the bull dog clips looked quite clunky and were very obvious, having the pin nails in there is so much more subtle. It just goes to show that jsut because something has worked for you in the past it isn’t going to necessarily going to work again. It also shows me how different each space is and each piece of work. I really have to think much more carefully about how each individual piece is going to be hung in relation to that space. I think it was good and definitely beneficial to try this idea out but it just didnt work. It was beneficial because it allowed me to see how much I have to think about hanging work and that sometimes I can’t be slap-dash about it and rush it.
Before I started hanging any work on the wall I had to decide a) what I was going to put up and b) how it was going to all be situated on the wall. I didn’t want to start randomly banging nails in the wall only to ahve to pull them out and have to fill the holes in etc. It would just make more work for myself in the long run. to a certain extent this ended up happening any way, so if I was to do this again I would spend a lot more time thinking about the layout of the work but I think with this kind of thing the onyl way to know how the work is going to look is to put it up on the wall. It’s okay to get a rough idea by laying it out on the floor but when you put the work on the wall it feels totally different; it is at a different height, itsbeing seen at a different level.
I knew roughly what work I wanted to put up and what I didnt. I have quite a lot of work to choose from that I have done over the year. this was the hardest part choosing what I felt were my strongest pieces and what were quite weak. In the end I divided them into two piles and had to be quite cut throat about it. I ended up with around 15 pieces that I liked and I then widdled this down to 11.
What isn’t documented in the photos is the fact that I considered all of the large paintings at first. Because it is a really big space and I had very few large paintings I thought it would be a smart idea to fill the space with my large works. However when I lined these up agaisnt the wall they just didnt look right. Yes, they looked uniform and they were all the same size and were neat but together in this space it just didn’t look like a reflection of my work. So I took them all away and decided to choose one large scale piece to put in the centre. I thought back to my 2nd year assessment, where I had a large piece in the centre and small piece either side. This really worked and they complimented each other. I thought this would work here. So I started to pick the pieces of work. I had one piece in the centre (which I later swapped out for a slightly bigger piece) and I had slightly smaller pieces either side, three a4 sized pieces either side of this and then something slightly bigger at the end to tie it all in. I didn’t want to go big to small from the centre because I felt that this dragged,I wanted it to be uniform and for there ot be a flow to the works. By having it flow up down, up down it works. However due to the length of the wall the work really dragged along. Rather than the viewers eyes bouncing from each piece of work to the next, the viewers eye dragged along looking at each piece. this didn’t work for me. Again I thoguht back to my 2nd year assessment where I had a triptic involved in it. The three a4 sized pieces either side of the centre piece were calling out for this. They all worked well together and they complimented each other; not long in size but in technique and style. So I decided to see what these looked like as triptics either side. I really liked the end result. I often find I am doing this in my practice; making individual paintings and then later on deciding that different works work well together and producing a series. This accidental series’ actually end up being som eof my most successful pieces.
I didn’t change the space between each works, just simple moved them down a notch. I made it so the bottom two of the triptic lined up with the bottom of the centre painting. I did this for uniformity and so that everything worked harmoniously together. I didn’t want the set of paintings to look out fo place form the rest. The paintings all work well together but by breaking it up like this it added an element of interest and lets the viewer bounce from one painting to the next. Upon reflection, I think that maybe I should have made the space betwene individual works and the set of works slightly different but I didn’t want it to disrupt the flow of the other paintings and I think separating it a little more would’ve done this and would’ve had a negative effect on the work.
My work is very informal, earthy, and raw. It isn’t fancy and doesn’t require anything fancy to hang it either. I don’t need any elaborate set ups or any elaborate layouts for my work. I wanted it to be as simple as possible so that the work could speak for itself. There is something quite understated about simply hanging a painting on a white wall these days. I feel like modern artists are so pressured to push the boundaries and explore different concepts that they lose sight of the simple things. I want to get back in touch with the simpleness and the practicality of a painting. I have always wanted my paintings to speak for themselves and for the viewer to not be distracted by anything, hence my layout.
I am very pleased with the choice of my paintings. I ahve said before that I wanted my degree show to reflect my practice and to reflect me as an artist. It’s no good having a show of amazing work that says nothing about the artist or their practice. I think this selection of work represents how I explore different techniques within painting; often dithering between a paintbrush and palette knife. It also highlights this love affair I ahve struck up with certain colours. There is a theme with the earthy yellows, reds, browns, blacks, greens that I use. It also shows how I like to experiment and explore size and scale. I ahve never been one to stick to a certain size for my works; “everything must be this big” etc etc. That’s not been me. Very often I will just find a piece of wood/MDF/paper and think, “oh that’ll make a nice painting” and use that. I think this selection of work represents how I spent my last year at university and it also represents where I see my practice going. I feel like this is successful in terms of exhibiting a selection of works that are cohesive and represent me.
I was very happy with the space I was allocated for the degree show, it was a long corridor style space which actually looked quite over whelming at first. I’ve seen this space before, obviously, but never this bare. It was quite daunting. The previous year, second year, I had my assessment in my studio space which was almost like a little room. It had one wall which I put my three pieces on and it was a really good size. Big enough to display the work but not too big that it overwhelmed it.
However with this space I have found that it is almost too big. I struggled to decide how I would lay out my work. But before I thought about that I had to prep the wall. By using sandpaper to sand any rough edges, removing any nails/screws, filling the holes with polyfilla then sanding that down to then paint on top of it with a white paint. The only thing I have found with my wall is that it is very brittle. As I was painting on top of it the paint from the previous years was peeling off, which was very frustrating. It meant that I had to paint over certain areas quite a few times before even thinking of hanging work.
You can see how large the space is in the photos. You can also see how it has kind of become a junk yard for everyones crap, like easels and furniture. I also had to move all of this out into the workshops before I started on the second part of the wall by the door.