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.