Having given a little flavour of the background to this project, I really feel I should fast-forward it and get right up to date.
Having been lucky enough (did I say lucky?).. actually it was the product of a series of meetings I had with various venue or curatorally related people, that led me to send some blurb to the DLI in Durham.
Didn’t hear for a while then out of the blue the magic ’email of interest’ landed in my in box.
I have now had a number of meetings over in Durham. After the first one it became apparent that James Lowther (the exhibitions organiser for all things county Durham) thought my work was right for their gallery, so it was pretty much a done deal from then on.
These things do take time tho…and various possibilities have opened up and then become problematic along the way.
The biggest positive for me (apart from being given the show in the first place) was that after a few exploratory conversations, it became apparent that there was a definite will to allow me to use elements of their collection to make a new piece as part of the whole Gestalt installation. I was particularly keen to be able to use real uniforms in a series of portraits I had been planning. Portraits which involved ’emerging adults’ (I say this tongue in cheek like ’emerging artists’ – always makes me think of resurrection for some reason) What I really mean is 15-16yr olds – people with all of life’s possibilities laid out before them…
I was given some help initially in this direction by the former temporary manager of the DLI Alistair Bowden. He delved into the archives for me and he and I had a good forage through what was held in the bowels of the museum. From this I formed a plan. He very kindly offered to allow me to select some uniforms and to come to Newcastle to cover the insurance aspects of responsibility for the collection etc. As it turned out events took over and he was unable to do that – however once the new full time manger, Emma Hamlett, was in place this got back on track.
I’m sure Emma had many others things to do in her new job but she very generously gave her time to my cause. That being said it was becoming apparent that to take the uniforms off the premises could be a problem – so I decided on the path of least resistance and instead arranged to bring everyone, plus the photography studio, to the DLI for photography. Emma sorted out the uniforms, weapons and a variety of trinkets for me on the day and so it was it all eventually came together.
The fact of having a deadline for the show is of course a great focuser of attention for all. It has to be said that there are a variety of benefits to the museum in this direction too, in that they get their collection brought to life and used in a way that is not typical of museum presentation. As I am by nature a person who loves to explore museums anyway it all had a nice cuddly synergy about it.