Planning and Delivering an Exhibition : The Pause Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects

 

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figure 1

My summer period was consumed in the most part with the planning of my expanded exhibition at Bar Opus in Birmingham.  It was made more valuable in my mind as the restaurant agreed, upon my request, to keep the four larger framed prints hanging in the restaurant (also owned by the same group) – this created the opportunity to double the level of exposure and also simplify the formatting of my work at the Bar.

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figure 2

I surveyed the main wall at the bar and noted its gallery hanging system.   I used Sketchup software to achieve the drawing of the elevation (figure 2) and sent to that to the bar owner and her hanging contractor.  Simultaneously I made the final selection of work as follows:

The main ‘set’ a chose as a grid of 9 images as these would create a ‘grid’ over a large area of the wall 2,115 mm square (figures 3, 4, 5).  I chose my normal frame type which is a robust black section and a through colour white mask.  This combination was designed to achieve a clear, simple buy muscular counterpoint to the dramatic Spanish wallpaper that forms the backdrop to the whole wall (figure 1).  The prints would then sit within each mask and allow them to be focused.  In addition two smaller frames were planned for a central column and a large 2m x 850mm poster were planned – this being the ‘signature’ image for the space, the invitation, information postcards (figure 6) and the social media.

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figures 3, 4, 5

Perhaps inevitably I realised that I was needing to create a critical path time schedule for the delivery of the exhibition as there was no room for failure.  The hanging date was set as 18th September and the opening party was set for the 19th.  Some 300 hundred invitations were to be mailed out and a press release was due to be drafted.  With the desire for an assistant (one day..?) in my mind I set forth and made progress and managed the printer, framer and my own delivery plan for the 18th.  Having built up a working relationship with the printer over the last 15 months it paid dividends when I was able to sit alongside the principal as we fine-tuned the 12 files in readiness for printing on the 50” (imperial measurement!) machine.  I was able to see the machine and understand a more deeply the process of exposure and development onto the Kodak paper.

I collected the prints, took them to the framers and then, after 10 days, I was excited to collect all 12 prints including the poster which had a surface lamination resinous finish to make the media resist to damage from splashes in the bar.  I had two days to inspect the images and found that, despite my labelling all the images, a number had the hanging eyes the wrong way round.  These were corrected.

The hanging was a 4 hour procedure.  The highly experienced contractor had worked in the same space before and also hung work at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and was thus extremely precise about the dimensional management and created the grid to 1mm tolerance accuracy.  My emotional response to that day was a balance of excitement and anxiety, the latter babies all of this had no precedence for me and I was keen to ensure that all my planning decisions were correct.  The main alteration I made to the plan was to laterally relocate the poster so that it was centred on the line of axis from the public entry door and between two pendant light fittings, thus ensuring maximum impactful visibility across the bar.

figure 6

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Found; an Exhibition Venue

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 6

My strategy for seeking a venue that would reflect the context of my work was proving less than fertile.  Often the buildings I make images of are set inside fencing and hoardings that are privately owned and managed and in less well trodden venues.  The body of work reflects six different places and to show at one demolition site seemed a little perverse.  For two weeks all opportunities were revolving in my mind.  One venue that seemed most appropriate was the large, open plan show space at the street level of a 4 storey building owned by an architect in Birmingham.  Having waited sometime for a response I was told that the exhibitions and shows they had hosted for others had been such poor quality (a point on which I would concur) that they were holding a determined moratorium on any shows, for a period, to allow them to rethink their strategy.  This felt like and indeed was  another set-back.

Networks and Serendipity

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Found – the venue

A week ago a friend and colleague at the place at which I work part time was leaving and I printed a set of post card size prints from my portfolio as my goodbye gift.  He shared these with his mother who asked to see me, she owns a bar and restaurant (Bar Opus and Opus Restaurant) in Birmingham city centre.  I met her last week with her co-owner (both of whom I know moderately well) and talked through my portfolio.  They were impressed with the images and invited me to hang work in the bar (currently showing Sophie Hedderwick’s work which I have reviewed in a previous blog entry) in September 2017, meanwhile I requested that some work was shown in August.  St that point they agreed that the work would be shown in the restaurant in August then be rehung along with others from my portfolio in September onwards.

Planning

I was delighted with this opportunity and invitation.  I have now visited the restaurant and agreed the 4 locations for 4 prints, two at circa A2 and two at circa A3.  A number of other prints will be relocated to allow breathing space for the principal pair and the remaining two will be placed near tables.  I have been able to consider the light, backgrounds, location, proximity to diners and adjacent hung work.  The printing, framing and textual work is now in hand.  It is planned to have boxes of post card size prints for sale at a point in the restaurant and the sale details have yet to be worked through. I am becoming used to keeping a tape measure near to my portfolio box and notepad on my visits.

The Location

These are iphone images made during the site visit.

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fig 1 The restuarant context

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fig 2 the location of the two principal prints (currently there are two Vanley Burke prints in place which will be relocated)

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fig 3 – detail of wall location number one

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fig 4 – detail of wall location number two

Links

Opus Restaurant, Birmingham

Bar Opus – Art venue