The Beginning of History is over. On the penultimate day of the show we had an ‘artists and curator in conversation’ session which I’d long been looking forward to. I’m not a lover of private views, tend to feel a bit lost in the cloud of chatter above head-level. To tell you the truth I wasn’t overly fond of them when still able to stand six foot tall. I like my conversations one-to-one, or in small groups, and want the work to take centre-stage.
Hearing from some of the other artists in the exhibition, Kate Murdoch, Shelley Rae, Ben Cove and Nick Kaplony, was illuminating. Stories, thought-lines, memories, were shared; reflections on media and materiality, all against a backdrop of history/art-history (yeah, we’re quite ambitious, aren’t we). I was a bit nervous but found myself talking with such purpose and pleasure I almost didn’t want to stop: for an instant at one with my wants and wishes, willing my work, my words, myself, deeper into the world. A brief and intense outing then; exhilarating. Not long after the talk I ran out of sitting, didn’t quite have the courage to lie on the gallery floor when the exhibition was still open, and went home with head buzzing. Sorry to miss a little after-party, and more of the tipple of the day – ginger wine distributed by the thimbleful. Every show should have a divan!
Because it was beautifully curated (by Nick Kaplony) the exhibition became a marvel to us,
I think. Thoughtful, considerate, open, and deeply engaged with the work, with each of the artists, he coaxed out of our varied practices a coherent, meaningful show in a space that is hard to inhabit. Our art shone because so much happened between the individual pieces, slowly revealing ever more depths and complexities to anyone who spent time there. Not many people came to see, alas, the gallery far off any beaten track, but the feedback was very good. One person even said he found a renewed sense of well-being every time he stepped inside (his studio is in the same building so he kept coming back), another one thought it felt like a home – quite something considering the subjects we address – mourning, loss, inherited memory, touching on issues like slavery, fascism…
This is a good place to say something about best practice. Working with the curator Nick Kaplony has been a pleasure. The art was beautifully presented, in my case closely following the instructions I’d written, as textiles aren’t straight forward, unless framed. When the work came home to me, brought by lovely co-exhibitor Kate Murdoch, I was touched by the care taken by Alex, the technician (I’d written instructions for packing too): every single piece tenderly handled and wrapped! I don’t think I’ve ever received my work back in such a conscientiously delicate & considered state – exemplary! And, being unable to do any of the physical stuff I was glad that Nick involved me in the editing of various exhibition texts. A relief to be useful, and much aware of my failings as a photographer.
I’m still writing up my thoughts about the exhibition, keep adding to my notes – so watch this space. The Beginning of History may be over but I the conversation has only just begun.