Ok, so on the 12th and 19th of July I headed over to Bank Street Arts in Sheffield to man the exhibition, to talk to anyone visiting if they were in the mood for talking about it. The 12th of July was pretty much a waste of time as there weren’t any visitors, well not really. My sister came with me to look around as she had been unable to make it to the PV (she then went into Sheffield centre), and a friend who gran still lives in Sheffield popped in on his way to see her. Other than that, there was an architect who as an office in the building... I was quite demoralised, but to be fair it was a scorching day and visiting galleries would be fairly low on my list of priorities too - we don’t get that many of them, so why waste it indoors?
The 19th was better. It was raining!! Actually, when I arrived, there were a group from OCA looking at Pete’s work (he’d also made the journey), and the group then proceeded to wander around the rest of the gallery too (Gareth unfortunately had to leave early). There was some good discussion going on, questions to Pete about his work, to me about mine and then some commentary and suppositions on the work of the others. Later, there were even other people coming into the gallery to look around - not just people from the OCA! Fantastic!! These people all seemed appreciative, willing to discuss their thoughts. It’s fair to say that not everybody liked everything, and indeed that would be impossible - we’re 6 quite different photographers, covering different genres and whatnot. I’d like to think that everyone got something from part of it though.
There has been quite a bit of feedback, with 99.9% of it being overwhelmingly positive - with comments such as:
I’ve seen a few shows at Bank Street and this is one of the best presented. Not overloaded with work and beautifully produced. Congratulations to all of you. (B Eccleshall)
It was great to see those images on the wall! Well-done all of you. What role models! (C Banks)
I can't express how proud I think you should be of your show at Bank Street Arts. If I could visualise what I thought success looked like when I joined the OCA in 2008 it would be this exhibition. You have shown other students what can be achieved. (G Dent)
Next it will be packing it all away at the beginning of August. Hopefully, I’ll receive some more feedback then, from the gallery, from wherever. And then it’s onwards to the next one - this has been quite a learning curve, but I do like to think we got it well and truly in the bag. it’s just a shame Dewald and Tanya haven’t managed to get over...
Anyway, there were 3 of us (plus 2 wives) there for the hanging. I started with A Forest in Gallery 1, Keith started with Ironman Family in Gallery 5 and Nigel with Shattered Coast in Gallery 3. After sorting out the hanging order, the first photograph seemed to take an age to hang, but no, not really. As I was using prints mounted on forex (a kind of plastic foam board), velcro’ed onto battens which were screwed on to the walls (no idea what the wall was made of, but it didn’t need drilling and plugging), the process was really straight forward, made even more so because I had a laser level to hand that projected a perfectly square cross onto the walls, the centre of which was aligned variously to the centre height, the edge of the print or whatever. Because of this, hopefully everything I hung should be level, and all done quicker than if I’d used the string and spirit levels the others were using.
With hindsight, I probably could’ve taken a couple more prints from A Forest, the space would have accepted them without feeling too crowded - another 2 would probably have been fine. However, I do think they need a bit of space to be seen in isolation - too close and there might have been a bit of a danger that the adjacent prints would have interfered with the narrative of the one being looked at.
Speak My Language was a little more problematic to hang because the walls were not completely flat - this image is made up of two parts, and I wanted them butted up to make a single panel. With the wall being uneven, the corners of the right hand panel stood proud of the left. Taking it down and adding another batten with more velcro along the joining edge seems to have resolved it (a bit of cork or similar might be added next time I see it...)
After that, it was Dewald’s and Tanya’s work (Nigel hung some of Tanya’s), more battens and velcro and more of the same activities - measuring, marking, drilling, squaring up, fastening to the wall...
The gallery informed us they’d be tidying up the walls afterwards, rearranging the lighting, etc. so that was something we didn’t have to consider, good job really, because we kept them from closing for 10 minutes as we were finishing off. Still, job done, and I think it looked alright!
Note: in hindsight, we should have left some notes for the gallery staff as they changed some parts of the gallery between the hanging and the PV - I positioned two prints above some glass shelves that were fastened to the wall, rather than measuring where they should be. The shelves were taken down, and whilst they may well have been correctly spaced, I was sort of relying on them still being there, otherwise I would have done some more measuring. Maybe not a big problem, but there is a shadow of a doubt. Also, Pete’s work was hung deliberately 20cm lower than everyone else’s, but the gallery staff thought a mistake had been made and moved them up to the normal height - they were quite sorry when they realised why Keith had done what he had done... So yeah, post-its or a sheet of instructions would’ve been useful.