It’s been a very busy couple of weeks but we got there. All ready and looking gorgeous, on time. So much has happened it’s hard to think back in order.
Firstly, the customs problems did persist, with one box arriving the day before the exhibition (phew!), which meant I was able to finish the hanging in our mini white cube, In Camera Gallery. The third of those three boxes sent late eventually arrived over a week after the opening! But arrive it did. I had prepared the space for an extra piece of work and now it’s all complete.
The last couple of days leading up to the opening were full but measured. Everything got done in good time. My helper was an amazing aide and I really couldn’t have done it without him. He was with me every week day for 10 days leading up to the opening.
The 3rd of May our preview of Made in Korea opened at Sladmore Contemporary as part of London Craft Week. I had selected the three UK based Korean artists to participate, having made the wise decision not to attempt to make anything myself for it. Gerry, the director, was delighted with the work and Kyung Won Baek arrived from Korea in time to attend the opening, where she met Myung Nam An and Sun Kim, both London based.
Won arrived in Brighton later that night. It was lovely to see her again. Last time was in Seoul last November. First thing in the morning I picked up Nicki Lang (Tela Films who has made many films for me over the last few years). I deposited Nicki at The Ceramic House to film the exhibition and we set off for Brighton University where Won gave a fascinating talk about her practice to the ceramics department, which was well attended. From there we had to rush back home in time for Latest TV who were coming to interview us. Bernard G Mills, who has photographed the last few exhibitions for me, also arrived and at one point there were cameras and tripods everywhere you looked, all deftly keeping out of each other’s way! The interview was broadcast the following Monday in the news section and I confess I still haven’t managed to see it.
Won brought loads of Korean nibbles and Joe my helper manned the bar admirably. People started arriving at 6 and we had a lovely party with stories (speeches) relating the journey of the project and what is to come, Korean music, and loads of guests overawed by the artwork! Unfortunately, not many of the artists could come because most of them are in Seoul with a few sprinkled around the world (New Jersey, France, Germany, Wales and Myung couldn’t come as well as attending the opening at Sladmore the previous night – well, she did get married one week later!). Sun Kim and Kyung Won represented them all! An excellent start to the project.
Won flew straight off to Germany the following morning to visit family and we had one day before the Open House weekends started. I spent the day preparing my solo show for Charleston which was meant to have been hung on the 2nd (2 days before the Made in Korea opening!) but thankfully was changed to the following week.
Then into the first weekend, which was great. Lovely weather (always helps as the garden and house look so much better in the sunshine glinting off all the tiles and brightening the exhibition space), lots of people (considering the first Saturday is always quieter as the children’s parade kicks off the festival) and pretty good sales too. Feedback showed that some people were coming specially to see the Korean work. One of the problems I have discovered is that by creating an extraordinary, beautiful house, many people just want to come to see the house. Which is fine, but I do want the artists to sell too! The visitors book is crammed with compliments (so many ‘wow’, ‘amazing’, ‘incredible’ you end up feeling the words don’t really do it justice) and also the comments we get and the expression on people’s faces really proves how much they appreciate it. We know from our visitor numbers (around 150-200 people per day) that around 95% of visitors do not spend money in our house. Which is why I am thrilled to be taking the show to London and developing projects outside of the house. We simply would not be able to do projects on this scale without public funding. It’s a great way of introducing people, including children, to this level of art who would not normally engage with it or might feel intimidated going into a gallery or museum. So actually the public engagement aims spread more broadly than the more obvious participatory elements of the project and it’s an important way of increasing access to the arts.
Sunday was a reasonable day too for sales and good visitor numbers. And then 5pm the doors closed and we collapsed!
Monday, we basically caught up with ourselves before heading to the airport to catch a flight to Venice for the opening week of the Biennale. Joseph went with his a-n hat on, along with the rest of the a-n team, reviewing exhibitions. This year I knew a lot of people involved in it, including Claudia Fontes who made a stunning sculpture called The Horse Problem for the Argentinian Pavilion. Recommended!