So here I am sitting in a gallery full of art invigilating so the public can have access to it whenever they want to.
I am finding that the context of this big white space (No Format gallery in Woolwich, London SE18) is a great way to look at the work and allows discussions to start. The gallery environment is a reflective one, with plenty of space and a timeless quality that makes it a refuge from other concerns, it’s almost like a retreat, it has elements of a place of worship in a secular mode. The staging of the show is not precious though, it’s pleasantly informal and physically accessible.
I am finding that I tend to develop a fantasy of how the show will go, how a steady stream of enthusiastic visitors will flock to the show, how people will be curious and enquiring and tell all their friends. Needless to say these ideas keep bumping up against the reality of an exhibition in a quiet London suburb in part of a regenerating industrial area that is transitioning from old uses and industries to new populations and start-ups. It’s a dynamic area with all kinds of interesting businesses, organisations and individuals all ferreting away to establish their niche in the economy of the capital.
One issue the show has thrown up is that of selling things. It is obviously desirable that we would make some sales of the artworks in the show and it remains to be seen if this will occur at the time of writing. There are other possibilities though and this is part of my thinking about revenue streams for artists, that the more diverse and sustainable revenue streams we artists can establish the more chance we stand of making our work sustain us so we can spend more time involved in it. To this end I have organised postcard sales at the show. This is hardly revolutionary, nor will it pay the rent in itself but as an idea it points the way to allowing income to flow in our direction not only from those rich enough to have sufficient disposable income to buy original artworks but from a much wider market that wants a reminder of the show, some token they can take away, something more than a memory, something tangible to hold on to that reflective secular space that our work represents and inhabits. In this case I think these sales may be more important symbolically than they are financially but it is an issue I will be addressing early on in the next show I am involved in.
Some other thoughts about exhibitions:
1 Wear a badge at the PV
Put your name on it and your twitter handle, this makes it easier for people to start conversations with you and to connect in a real way with people who you have only encountered online up until now. These things are not cool I am sure but they could really help those of us less gifted in the social department.
The English weather is such a major factor in determining how many people are out and about and likely to turn up at an event or not. I think you have to learn to suspend your expectations until after the event. This is an emotional impossibility of course, expectations build up as matter of course and adjustment of some kind inevitably follows, it’s another of those recursive patterns that keep turning up everywhere I look now.