The last 10 days have been relentless. Setting up an exhibition in your own home is no simple matter, especially when nearly every room is open to the public. In fact, it is comparable to moving house. Furniture gets hefted down into the basement, the permanent collection of artwork has to be carefully and safely stored, and most disruptive of all, the shelves and cupboards in the kitchen and the utility room where we keep our daily crockery have to be cleared and totally rearranged, so that we don’t know where anything is any more and spend half the month walking into the wrong room to get a glass and then following the exhibition it happens all over again once we have got used to the new locations for everything!
Wook Jae Maeng’s mice ready for installation
After my full-time assistant disappeared overnight, leaving me in the lurch with a full schedule in the run-up to opening, an angel appeared on my doorstep. My new volunteer has been a gem. He is one of that new breed of ceramic enthusiasts I have come across a fair bit recently who has no experience but suddenly has a huge passion for clay! Which is lovely and something I keenly encourage. He has been here every day last week doing everything that needs doing – assisting my exhibition installer, painting most of the house and gallery (or a lot of surfaces at least!), scrubbing the tiled terraces in the garden, delivering Open House brochures, putting up banners and so on. I have promised he will get his hands on actual clay once the exhibition is up and I am back in the studio.
All through the week, the customs problems continued. A jubilant day was Wednesday, when 11 boxes arrived, completely blocking my hallway, floor to ceiling. One of the boxes from the USA that had been cleared was left off the list and remained in the Gatwick depot until many more emails and phone calls had ensued. More boxes arrived into the country from Korea, and even though they had been clearly labelled ‘temporary admissions’, one got through on Friday and the other two have been held. I was told in no uncertain terms that clearing the first 11 boxes had been a favour and would be unlikely to happen again. I was meant to pay the dues and then claim it back. What a hassle! So, I chanced it one more time and managed to charm the official into releasing them! But it means that those two boxes, plus one more that still hasn’t arrived, are delaying the final hang, which should have been signed off days ago. Although on paper it is possible to curate an exhibition, in reality, until the work arrives and in your hands, you cannot really know how it will look in position and next to the rest of the work. Luckily, I know where these works will go, although the installation in In Camera Gallery cannot be finalised until Chun Bok Lee’s works are in place. The bank holiday Monday is not helping either. It’s possible the work will arrive the day before the opening! I also found out last week that one artist has decided not to send a whole box of work that I had prepared space for.
Somehow, I have managed to squeeze about 20 huge boxes into my basement along with the furniture and stored artwork and everything one normally stores in a basement (camping stuff, old ceramics, moulds, you name it!) My basement is a miracle Tardis. Those boxes are BIG. Just as well we decided not to have Wook Jae Maeng’s installation in the basement and put it in the Gallery instead!
Other things that have happened this week: a LOT!
One of my volunteers came for a day to put up Veronica Juyoun Byun’s shoe installation, and I got more than I bargained for when she kindly offered to pot up trays of flowers so now we have colour all over the garden. This is on top of my gardener spending a full day the week before making the garden presentable. The roses are just beginning to come out and should be in full bloom by the first weekend. Can’t wait for that annual treat.
My exhibition installer was here for a day and a half prepping for the installations and putting up my perspex mounted work, which is a laborious job. I have been unpacking boxes and unwrapping artwork all week long and hanging the show. I have nearly finished converting my office into The Tile Shop, which is no small job. Everything has to be cleared out and replaced with countless heavy boxes of tiles. Myung Nam An came to install her work, which she did, with help, effortlessly and quickly. Lovely to have her work back on the wall again. Last time she showed here was in 2012.
A feature about the exhibition came out in Crafts Magazine along with our advert, both of which look great, and I spent a fair amount of time with my graphic designer designing a handout for the exhibition which looks good (on the computer screen at least). Looking forward to seeing them.
Kyung Won Baek, the first of the artists in residence is arriving from Korea today! Our preview show opens at Sladmore Contemporary as part of London Craft Week on Wednesday. I have been curating the work the 3 UK-based Korean exhibitors are submitting for that and doing lots of liaising with the director and his team, one of whom came to visit The Ceramic House for a planning session.
All the PR, social media, emails, newsletters and general admin about the show has been continuing ceaselessly with a featured artist every day for the 15 days leading up to the opening on The Ceramic House FB page and lots of instagram posts documenting the set up. My instagram handle is @ceramicempress
Last week Joseph Young and I went up to Café Oto in London to meet our lead Korean sound artist Hankil Ryu who is doing a tour in Europe. He gave us the good news that our events will be part of a sound art festival at Mullae Art Factory in Seoul so we will have a ready-made audience. We also discussed which Korean sound artists to engage to do the sounds for the geo-locative app. Joseph still has to make a sound piece to accompany Wook Jae Maeng’s installation for Thursday which he plans to do using the sounds I recorded visiting ceramic artists in their studios in Seoul.
Thursday is going to be a busy day. I’ve got our filmmaker and photographer booked in to document the show on Thursday once it’s all finished and before anything gets sold! Kyung Won Baek is giving a talk to the students on the ceramics/3D materials course at Brighton University in the morning, and Latest TV are coming in the afternoon to interview us and film the show for a news item on live TV on Friday. Then the opening begins at 6! You probably won’t hear from me until after that date so wish me luck!