I’m now into day four of seven of invigilating the exhibition, and while the week so far has been slow in terms of visitor numbers (I suspect it’s because it’s mid-week, with people at work) it has given me a lot of time to reflect on the exhibition, and my residency at AirSpace Gallery as a whole.

The proposal process was very useful in creating clarity in my mind about what I wanted to do with my solo exhibition. The installation of the works went very smoothly, it’s how you always hope an install will go. Now the exhibition is up, and I’m opening up the gallery every day for a possible audience, without sounding like my ego has outgrown the size of my head I have to say that I am rather proud of what I have managed to accomplish.

All of the comments and discussions I’ve had with people who have viewed the exhibition have all been very positive. I have received a lot of praise about my work, which is wonderful, and what I feel is most important is that people actually understood my work! I have always been fearful of making artwork that nobody really gets, or understands, so the fact that everyone who I have spoken too has seen what I am trying to say within the work is brilliant. These conversations are always interesting, as people always give you a new way of looking at your work, from a different perspective that you may not have ever come up with yourself. One man in particular was so eager to come and see the exhibition, he asked if he could come in early, a few hours before the private view. He was waiting for his wife and said he wouldn’t be around later on, but definitely wanted to have a look around.

While visitor numbers have been quite low during the week, I’m not taking is personally as several factors have probably contributed. The weather has been so cold, with ice and snow that has just cleared and most people tend to work during the week.  My family and the most important people in my life have all seen the exhibition though, so I am happy! I know that it isn’t a reflection on the quality of my work, it is just the nature of these things, and who happens to be walking by at any particular moment. However, I have noticed that a lot of people have actually stopped and looked in the window, and they stopped to look for one reason or another, for better or worse. The worry that I didn’t achieve what I set out to do has well and truly disappeared now.

I think that now is a safe time to say that I feel that my first solo exhibition has been a great success.


I’ve decided to condense the four days of the installation process down into a single post. The overall experience of installing the exhibition was rather tiring, but extremely exciting and rewarding once I saw all of the work start to come together into a cohesive show. Ideas that I had at the initial proposal stage ended up changing as the week went on, as well as one or two ideas being abandoned for better or more suitable ones.

After hanging the drawings on paper with Victoria Lucas, the second day was mainly focused on the large wall drawing located on the opposite wall. The wall was difficult to work on in places, where uneven paint layers, filler and remnants from the previous exhibition left different textures and uneven surfaces. Because of this, I opted to use coloured pencil instead of the tinted charcoal I initially planned to use. The charcoal would easily smudge or be brushed off of the surface of the wall, and on the more uneven places possibly have not transferred at all. I chose to use a red pencil, the same pencil I used to create a small drawing in my sketchbook that is being displayed at the other end of the gallery. I thought that this would be a subtle way to tie both ends of the gallery together as you walk around it, instead of the possibility of each half of the gallery feeling like two separate exhibitions. Having created the sketch of what they drawing would look like within my sketchbook, the process happened in two stages. Firstly I drew lightly onto the wall using graphite, and then I went over the simple line drawing with the coloured pencil, before starting to go back in and add all of the details present in the drawing. With this drawing being on such a large scale, I was able to really work in some finer details that I cannot do on the smaller paper drawings. This was to be the largest drawing I have created to date thus far, with it being located on a 12ft wall! I managed to get the bulk of the drawing finished by the end of the second day, but throughout the week I continued to add to the drawing, fine tuning it, adding more detail, heavier pencil work etc.

Day three was probably the most significant day in terms of how everything would sit together and operate within the gallery space. I was placing the installation works, and getting the placement of the branches was key to how the whole show would be viewed. Having both the gallery director and founder there to help, we played around with their placement for quite some time, discussing various ideas and options we all had. After a while it all suddenly ‘clicked’ together, with the installation beginning in the window, a second installation being located in the centre of the floor, as well as two other installation pieces being located within the alcoves that are roughly the halfway point of the gallery space. With the added branches that just appear out of the alcoves and begin to come out into the space, it gave us a greater sense of how the works within the gallery would sit.

In finding the placement for the branch installations, it became clear quite quickly that the five drawings on paper needed to be altered somehow. With the large white wall, and having being drawn on white paper, the drawings themselves were getting ‘lost’ within the space. In addition, with the location of the floor installation now decided, it meant the hanging of the drawings on the wall needed to be changed. After some discussion, I decided to remove two of the drawings from the wall, and move the remaining three across the wall, close to the window. Later on the next day we also decided to hang a drawing from my In The Window Exhibition, and we hung all of them so they were raised away from the wall slightly, creating a shadow behind each of them and making them more visible against the white wall.

The idea I had of using pocket microscopes to view a series of small drawings had been abandoned by this point, however something I had forgotten about quickly replaced it. Within my research folder I had kept some photocopied insects that I had cut up and placed back together again, from my third year at university. I hadn’t done much with them beyond their initial creation as I was unsure about how to proceed and develop them further unto a tangible concept. However, I knew there was some importance to them so I kept them, until I found them again this week. Discussing them with Victoria, we decided they would really work within the context of the show and the works I had already made, so I decided to show them alongside everything else. We opted to display them on the now empty all space near to the research wall, and pin them in a similar method to an entomologists collection.

Having cleaned up an old desk that had been in the storage room of the gallery, I needed to decide how exactly I wanted to use it. I had started to create small objects using pressed flowers and butterfly wings. I imagine them to be some kind of chrysalis, something these strange hybrids may hae emerged from once they had matured. The light on the desk, to our surprise, still worked, I decided that the desk would be an ideal place to display these small objects, the light above really bringing them to life. I pinned them down into three rows of five, as I didn’t want to overcrowd the desk with them and have them distracting from one another. Although only a small piece of work within the exhibtion, I feel that overall it works really well, with the work desk, the pinning of the objects, and the objects themselves really working well together.

The process of creating the clay sculptures on the branches was very enjoyable for me, as I love the process of moulding, pressing, pushing and shaping he clay with my hands into rough, raw forms.

The final part of the installation came with the concept of the jar collection. A few of the jars were collected from my house, or given to me by various people. Sadly I wasn’t able to collect as many as I wanted to so I ended up having to order some jars to make up the numbers. However this ended up working out for the better, as it meant I had a vast number of jars to play around with, and could mix the uniform jars up with the collected jars along the shelf. Another unexpected but very welcome surprise was when I lidded the bought jars, as with the spotlights used to light up the shelf, and the golden lids, reflections bounced off all of the jar lids and onto the wall above the jars.

I found the process of installing the exhibition initially very daunting, particularly at the beginning of the residency whenever I thought about how large the gallry space is. It is a lot larger than any space you would ever get to exhibit in at university, for example!  However, it went extremely smoothly, the process of changing my ideas was natural and never because I was forced to alter my ideas drastically because of some previously unknown factor. Having worked within the gallery how I did, I never once felt overwhelmed by the space, and found that by focusing on each section first, before taking a step back to look at the space as a whole, it really helped with how easily the installation progressed. Now that the exhibition is fully installed and on display, the excitement I felt seeing it all together for the first time was great.


I thought It would be useful to post my exhibition proposal on to my blog, so then I can compare how much my ideas have changed from the original proposal to the finished exhibition in a later post.


Title: The Alien Bestiary

I want to utilise the whole of the gallery space, to make this an ambitious exhibition. Splitting the gallery into different sections has allowed me to focus on each area individually, allowing me to curate it with more ease instead of being overwhelmed by the amount of space available. Sectioning the gallery into different ‘zones’ also means I can be more creative with the curation of the work. Entering the gallery, the first ‘section’ is very cleanly curated, with works more finished and polished. As you go further back into the gallery it becomes more busy, cluttered and ‘haphazard’. I want to display research and developmental works in addition to more finished artwork within the exhibition, as I feel that showing this material is important; the research behind it is just as interesting to me as the work created from these collected materials. Also I feel having this information on display will help with understanding of the works I’ve created and give more depth to the project and exhibition as a whole.


Dark room: Animation playing on loop, no sound. The animation will be of the clay sculptures emerging from a mass of clay with plants ‘growing’ out of the top, an animated version of the installation inside the gallery and window space.

Section 3: Research area, use of desk with light (image attacked below gallery map) my research exhibited alongside other works created during residency. Various Natural History or nature related books in stacks around the desk.  Shelves on the wall with rows of glass jars containing various objects that already exist or ones that I have made (currently collecting the jars from various sources). I want to have a research wall on the opposite side, containing photocopies from my studio, sketches, drawings, items gathered from my research. It may be a possibility that I could use objects on loan from the Potteries Museum, such as boxes of specimens from their stores, depending on if they allow me to loan items from them (in addition, will also be asking if they have empty display cases currently in storerooms that I could loan for the exhibition to display objects in). I need to build a frame to hold six microscopes that will sit above a drawing– six pocket microscopes, create a possible frame to go above the drawing to hold these in place so the audience can view the small drawings through the microscopes.

Installation: The floor based work will take up a large area of the floor space, with the clay sculptures venturing quite far away from the area into other parts of the gallery. A large mound of clay will be on the floor to form the basis of the installation, with collected plants and materials ‘growing’ out from the top. The small clay sculptures will appear to emerge from the mass of clay and move across the gallery floor.

Section 2: Objects and sculptures I’ve created around ideas of nests, natural architecture created by unknown creatures, and will be displayed in both “nooks” either side of the gallery. They may be exhibited along with some already existing objects.

Section 1: “Finished works”, drawing based pieces on opposite walls. One drawing will be placed directly onto left wall, along with 3 to 4 (possibly framed) drawings opposite, each sheet of paper is 23×28 inches. If unframed opens up ideas of connecting the drawings together, continuing drawings from the paper onto the wall.

Window space: Small installation/sculptural based work, similar to the larger installation in the gallery, smaller lumps of clay, plants growing from the lumps, interconnecting them with roots etc possibilities of it extending down into the gallery on the floor.

Possible extra location: Depending on talks with Don Steward, I am going to see if it would be possible to place one of my ‘specimens’ amongst the natural history gallery within the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. This would be a small, inconspicuous object that initially blends in with its surrounding specimens, but isn’t quite right.

Technical requirements: Projector, help with setting this up. Installation of shelving, hanging of drawings (yet to decide if these will be framed or unframed) Creation of a frame to hold microscopes in place above a drawing, can either be flat of a desk surface of fixed to the wall depending on technical capabilities/logistics of installing and creating it.

These are two images of some of the furniture around the gallery that I feel would be of great use within my exhibition. If I am able to use them both it would be ideal, as the desk will fit perfectly with the ideas I have in mind for the third section, or “research zone” of the gallery. The glass display cabinet will also be excellent to display some of the objects in during the exhibition. I hope that I am able to use both pieces, however I can compromise and have back up plans if I cannot use them within the exhibition. If I cannot use the glass display case, I will create a plinth to display the objects on instead and just curate the objects differently. Similarly, if I cannot use the desk, I can create a makeshift desk from two A-frames that I already own, and either create a table top from pine or use a sheet of MDF as the table top surface; if I can use the desk, this makeshift table will still be included in the exhibition.

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During my residency at AirSpace Gallery, I had the privilege of being able to have meetings with artist Victoria Lucas, who agreed to come to AirSpace Gallery to discuss my work with me during month three of the residency. She then returned to very kindly help with the first day of the installation process.

We began by discussing my proposal and what I had outlined within it, particularly focusing on the works and where they would be placed within the gallery. Of course, some of the work was yet to be made, so I had to show her what work I already had available and begin with their display within the gallery.

I wanted to ask her opinions on my idea for a “research wall” at one end of the gallery, and after a quick talk about the idea Victoria suggested using a table instead. We found two wooden tressles and a large wooden board in the storage room of the gallery, so used them to make a makeshift table to quickly test the idea out. Going through my research folder, I came across some photocopies of insects that I had cut up and put back together again into strange “mutations”, Victoria really liked these and suggested using them on the wall in place of the “research wall”, pinning them in a similar method to an entomology collection within natural history museums and insect collectors. They really worked well on the wall, so I began to make more of them to fill an area on the wall, slowly building them up in to  a rouch shape/layout that I liked. We discussed pinning them in linear rows, or grids, but in the end I decided I liked pinning them in a haphazard fashion, it seemed to be more pleasing aesthetically.

Towards the end of the day we began to pin up my drawings on the other side of the gallery, which would be used for more polished, and resolved works.

The day was a brilliant way for me to get another professional artists opinion on my ideas, and to get a fresh set of eyes on the layout of the gallery and how works look when they re placed on the walls etc. Every time I have met with Victoria she has given me another view on my work that I hadn’t even seen or considered before, and gave me new ways to pursue the ideas I was exploring during the residency. On this day in particular she showed to me the importance of how a work is displayed, and how much it can affect how the work is read and interpreted.

It was a really enjoyable day and I am very thankful to Victoria for giving up a day of her time to come and help with my exhibition!


It has been a while since I last posted an update, it’s been a busy few weeks with the holidays and then a busy January so far! A lot has been going on in the last few weeks, namely my residency at AirSpace Gallery drawing towards its conclusion. My exhibition, ‘The Alien Bestiary’ will be held at AirSpace Gallery from 15th – 23rd January.

With my residency coming to an end, this meant I had to begin the proposal process for my solo exhibition. Looking through all of my research, notes, artworks etc from the last six months, I had to make decisions on what exactly I wanted my exhibition to be about, what works I wanted to display, how I would create the work, the time scale of the installation process. I wanted to make sure in my proposal that I was ambitious for my first solo exhibition, but not so outlandishly ambitious wherein my proposal just wasn’t achievable. For me, it was important to use the whole gallery space, as why wouldn’t I when I’m given such a great opportunity to have my own solo exhibition! Since it is the first time I’ll be using a whole gallery for my own work, I split the floor plan up into different ‘sections’ so I could focus on the curation without getting overwhelmed. I found the process of putting my proposal together very interesting, and trying to imagine what my exhibition would look like in the space, with all of the exciting possibilities. The most difficult part for me was trying to describe works that didn’t exist yet, as I wasn’t entirely sure how some of the works would look and operate within the space until I actually started to make them.

Of course, the proposal isn’t a document that is set in stone that you are forbidden to deviate from, as the meetings and discussions after submitting the initial proposal have lead to many changes from my original ideas. All for the better, though! As an artist it is the norm for ideas to constantly be tweaked and changed as time goes on. The meetings leading up to the installation week of the show were extremely helpful for me, not only in knowing the feasibility of my ideas and works, but also in getting valuable advice about the install, what materials I’ll need beforehand etc.

The next few posts (that I will write up over the next day or two) will be about the installation of the exhibition!