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 group 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 C Type 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 I 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. I had no precedence for this 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


Hanging and Responses

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


Figure 1

Surface : Exhibition Time

As my part in Landings2017, the peer group international work in progress exhibition first day dawned on 11th August I arrived with my hanging kit (drill, plugs, screws, brass hooks and dust-sheets) at Opus Restaurant in Birmingham.

The planned 4 areas of wall had been cleared in readiness for my 4 framed prints; 2 at A2 and 2 at A3.  Al matching the original measured and photographic survey I had undertaken.

I created a guidance sheet for the restaurant staff to give to interested parties and customers.  This provided a context, title (The Pause Project) and details of the printing and the decision I made following discussions with one of my tutors David Ellison about getting the pitch right.  I also provided a labelling guidance sheet as the restaurant wanted to use their house style to label each (although on a revisit I had to reposition these correctly!).  Each print is limited to 3 with one artist’s proof.  The only other available format would be postcard size published as my self assembly photobook (see separate post).  I took advice on costs and value for sale and pitched sale prices accordingly.

I asked a restaurant team member to use my camera to capture the proprietor and I in front of the two principal prints.


Figure 2

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Figure 1 shows the simplest print hung on the visually most striking backdrop of Spanish wallpaper.  Figure 2 is against a grey wall above the waiting counter and Figure 3 on a mustard coloured wall which worked well with the two principal prints.

Before leaving I posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The responses were positive; I was pleased with the coverage. LinkedIn showed 2,170 views (as of 14th August 2017).  Facebook had a reach of 804 with 23 likes, 2 comments and 4 shares.  Samples are shown, figure 4

The restaurant tweeted the picture from its own account on 14th August.


Figure 4

Learning: planning, negotiation and communication paid off.  Paying attention to lighting (noting this is not a gallery venue and hence lighting is at times problematic with reflections being evident) and colour were strong defining factors when deciding what work to display and where.

Figure 5 shows the text of the guidance note printed for the front desk of the restaurant.

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