For this Grow An Exhibition project, over the last month I’ve been contacting and meeting potential partners, collecting information and getting advice from various artist friends. It is all slowly coming together and I have been amazed by all the offers of help and support that people have given, even from people I’m yet to meet. All I have to do is put it all into my Arts Council application!
In my role as chairman of GASP, the Art Space Portsmouth gallery organising committee, I’m used to helping others with their exhibitions and organising ASP group shows. Now it comes to my own project it is all a bit daunting. I know I can do all the individual parts of this project: the growing, making work, marketing, organising and hanging exhibitions, etc. However, when you write everything down that you need to do in the next 18 months, right down to how many leaflets you need to print for an exhibition 500 days away, it makes your head hurt.
All I want to do is run away to the greenhouse and get my hands messy in some compost. But I can’t, well not yet. Next week I have meetings with my two major partners to firm up all the details. And anyway, the garden is not the best place to be just at the moment, getting pelted by hailstones and dodging flying flowerpots. Instead, it’s back to planning, writing the application, and calculating the number of leaflets!
Visit potential partner garden. Help out doing a bit of gardening. And relax… bliss.
Research from email.
I just want to do some gardening and make art.
This Grow An Exhibition project is going to be one of the toughest things I have ever done.
That is a big statement from someone who is overcoming crippling agoraphobia and just recently, my dental phobia!!!
Then why? My art practise up until now has been a solitary one. Painting, firstly at home and then in my studio at Art Space Portsmouth. Occasionally putting my head above the parapet for a small exhibition or open studio.
For this project I need to interact with people right from the start.
• Firstly, finding individuals, organisations and businesses to partner and sponsor me.
• Making my first funding application and all that that entails.
• Engaging with the public – getting them interested in what I’m doing and encouraging them to participate by growing plants.
• Then lastly, the exhibitions and associated workshops.
I’m okay with the exhibition planned for GASP, our gallery at Art Space, it’s on my patch and I can control it. It’s the others I plan to do at partner venues that are scary. And don’t get me started on workshops and sharing my knowledge with others. I don’t think I’m meant to be a teacher. On the times I’ve done impromptu teaching and they don’t catch on or do it ‘wrong’, being a perfectionist, I usually say “Here, let me do it for you.”, which totally defeats the idea of teaching!
So, as I’ve just realised, it won’t just be an exhibition I’ll be growing, it’ll be me growing as well. Hold on Adrian, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
I have always seen gardening as a lovely way to pass time in the outdoors. Watching, over time, as a seed miraculously turns into a magnificent plant of amazing beauty… even the ‘weeds’.
A few years ago an artist friend said that she really liked my gardening project at The Garden @ Art Space. I hadn’t really seen it as an artistic project, thinking it more of turning an unused space into a little oasis, but still just a garden.
This got me thinking how I could use the Garden for my artistic practice. Then at the end of last year it came to me… I would use the space to ‘Grow An Exhibition’. So in 2014 I will be:-
• Growing plants that I can turn into handmade paper, and then use to make artist books, paper sculptures, draw on, etc.
• Grow plants, like willow, that I can then make into sculptures, frames, etc.
• Harvest and use leaves and seeds.
• Photographically documenting the project through the year.
• And anything else that develops during the year.
I will be looking for the public’s involvement in the project including growing plants, open garden events and workshops.
Then in 2015, when I’ve had chance to process the plant material and make the artworks, there will be an exhibition in GASP gallery at Art Space Portsmouth, and hopefully at other suitable venues around the region.