Professional Development

APhF:15

Speak My Language, one of my bodies of work, is being exhibited at the Athens Photo Festival (APhF:15), alongside work by noted names such as Anna Fox (I believe – I’ve not seen a definitive list) in the Photobook section and Cristina de Middel and Christian Patterson in the main exhibition.

APhF15
© Madalina (@Madutzasan on Twitter)


The Photobook Show describes itself as :

“A tribute to the form of photobook
In recognition of the increasing importance of the photo book in contemporary photographic practices, the Festival is introducing a new specific exhibition section dedicated to the form of book, featuring a curated selection of photobooks from artists and individual publishers worldwide.”

Details of the exhibition, which runs from June 3 – July 26, can be found at http://www.photofestival.gr.

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Questions for exhibition

I've been in discussion with a local authority run gallery with the intention of hosting an exhibition of work. As a result of this, I've been sent a questionnaire to complete - some of the questions seem pretty straightforward to answer, others a little less so. Some serious thought and consideration is required in order to fill some sections in.

The questions are:
  • Working Title
  • Summary description of the exhibition
  • Aims & objectives of exhibition
  • Proposed dates
  • Financial breakdown (hire fees, expected income, production costs, installation costs)
  • Budget allocated
  • Locations proposed
  • Audience (does it fulfil formal educational and lifelong learning needs?)
  • Exhibition contents
  • Outline design brief
  • Associated events and activities
  • Marketing and communication needs: how will potential audiences be reached?
  • Evaluation & visitor information
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Website Update

Following some feedback from Lisa Barnard, I took my website offline and stopped any activity in terms of the PPP that might drive people there. During that time I’ve had a rethink, a restructuring and a redesign and it’s now back live at the existing URL – www.robtm.co.uk.

So, what’s changed? Well, I decided to remove the essay section and the blog – I hadn’t updated the blog for a while anyway. I’ve re-structured the photo gallery too, from one of everything to two different ones. At the moment, they’re imaginatively called Gallery 1 and Gallery 2, although this will undoubtedly change in due course as I do think of something more imaginative. They serve the purpose of separating the “road trip” projects from the “everything else” projects.

I need to add a newsletter signup form (the one that is supposed to be included doesn’t seem to “pop-up”, but that will likely be because I have a pop-up blocker (I forgot about that – d’oh!), I might add resumé section when there is something worthwhile to put in there (it’s a bit thin at the moment). Then maybe a print sales section, or a bookshop. Other stuff can be put in when I think about it.

Hopefully it all makes sense and flows cleanly. It feels like a step in the right direction if nothing else.
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P3 v1.0

The P3 : Personal Practice Plan or whatever it is called. It's distressing me because it is making me ask myself questions about what exactly I'm doing. Why I'm doing it. And is there really any point in doing it.

The first part of the plan (which is a working document) tries to define who I am and where I fit, and all i can think to say is that I'm an engineer and I don't really see that changing any time soon. I do take photographs though, in an eclectic range of styles that possibly prevents me from having something definable, identifiable and marketable. I'm certainly no
Peter Lik, who has created a multi-million dollar industry with his photographs (like them or not). Pushing the financial aspects aside, I do feel like I'm failing, falling by the wayside. Certainly in terms of "making" - can I be considered an artist if all I do is procrastinate?

The second part of the plan draws attention to stuff I need to be looking at. This is the useful part for me as it brings together those things that I need to be looking at - exhibition opportunities, networking opportunities and, well, just opportunities to get my work out there, which then serves to focus the ind on making some work to get out there. Something to keep coming back to so that I can ask myself that question again - am I wasting my time? Or am I progressing in any way, shape or form?

This is v1.0 of the plan.

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What is my practice?

I'm trying to work out what my practice is so that I can write my P3. At the moment, I'm not sure... I've not really achieved a huge amount in the great scheme of things, I don't see my art becoming my only source of income either. I suppose the question I'm really putting off answering is why am I doing the MA at all? Is there a purpose to it, other than self-improvement?

OK, so to write my artists CV, what would be on there? A small handful of exhibitions, a few self-published books. Anything else? Well, no. Not really. So, putting it all out there, this is what it amounts to:

Exhibitions:
Papergirl Blackburn [St John's Centre, Blackburn. 2014] - the community arts project featured 10 prints from Speak My Language before they were given away at random on the streets of Blackburn.

[( 6 )] [Banks Street Arts, Sheffield. 2014] - a group exhibition that I lead in terms of organisation, etc. 6 photographers, all recent or impending graduates from the OCA BA in Photography. It ran for a month in July, and it's the subject of the first few blog posts on here.

Sheffield International Book Prize [Banks Street Arts, Sheffield. 2013] - another show at Bank Street, this time featuring all of the artists books entered into that years book prize. I didn't win, although the book is now part of their permanent collection.

In Search of Space [Carlisle Photo Festival, Carlisle. 2013] - my work was on display during the festival, a bitter-sweet experience due to the poor quality of reproduction from the festival printer.

Inspired [Steward's Gallery, Clitheroe. 2011] - an mixed media exhibition featuring the work of local artists from the Ribble Valley.

I've also got work on pretty much permanent display at the OCA head office and that of another local firm. Does that count?


Books:
I've self-produced half a dozen or so publications, ranging from newspapers, Blurb books and catalogues to hand-crafted leporello format ones, each from one of my series,
including Speak my Language, A forest and Into the Valley.


Other:
My work has shown up in a number of places, it was featured in #Photography magazine, the Big Issue and a few other places. It's been used commercially, although nothing recently... Perhaps my more recent work would struggle to find a commercial use, and I don't create it for that purpose anyway.



How do I build on this? Do I actually
want to build on this? To answer the second question first, yes I do. So what is it I want to build on then?

I suppose it's got to be the exposure side of things. Famous for 15 minutes, and all that. Lauded in magazines, the shows the talk of the town... Ok, seriously. It would be good to get into a few more exhibitions, and I keep on submitting to the festivals and what have you, but it's a familiar story to be knocked back. I also need to dig into the local possibilities for a solo show, although "local" can be a bit of a solitary experience I guess. I'm not too sure there's much of a local scene... OK, there will be when you get to the cities (Manchester, Liverpool), but I'm not very familiar with them, beyond the headline galleries. So yeah, local - I need to start somewhere...

I need to keep hitting the magazines too, both the mainstream and independent ones (like #Photography, which ran some of
A Forest).

I need to get into the networking thing too. I need to do a lot of things, including make some new work. And do the day job. Oh, and the MA... Actually, I need to get organised. Maybe then I will work out what my practice might be...
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What is Professional Practice?

The last hangout of 2014 was also our first real look at the Personal Practice Plan (P3) and what it will entail. The P3 was described as being akin to an artistic business plan, something in which we would plot out our intended progress for our professional career as an artist. I've already mentioned that I'm not sure it will become my main profession, certainly not in the foreseeable future, but that's not to say I don't want to be successful or otherwise respected for whatever it is that comes out of my camera, so I will of course pay this the attention it deserves.

The first thing to maybe think about (and may have actually appeared earlier too) is the question "what is professional practice?" In the presentation material, Caroline gives some bullet points:

  • Being professional in behaviour, presentation, administration and aesthetics.
  • Encompasses the world of art practice outside the studio.
  • Is something to be enjoyed, engaged with, shared and commented on.
  • Is something where we can find a place and position.
  • Is somewhere we can analyse the paths of other creatives, their galleries, exhibitions, lectures, profile, statements and so one...
  • Is somewhere (a group?) where we can witness and question curatorial practic, contemporary art discourse and debate, etc.

The key thing I'm picking up here is more to do with our interactions with others, how we personally fit into that professional context. It's something I know I'm a little lacking in. I've signed up with groups like Redeye in Manchester, but struggle to make it to their symposiums and the like. Partially this is because of work, partially because of distance and partially it is a certain apathy in that something has to give in order to fit everything in, and it seems to be this sort of thing. I'll make an effort every now and then, a big push for a specific something, but then everything drops off again... I'm not being very "professional" in this respect.

The same also applies to finding local exhibition spaces, or going to galleries and interacting with art (which reminds me, I need to finish off writing up the Heinecken exhibition that I saw after Warhol...).

There's also a repeat of the questions asked during the VL, so it's pointless to go through them again here (
answers), and a list of areas to consider, which includes:

  • Articulating practice
  • Contextual studies
  • Audience and public engagement
  • Navigating opportunities
  • Verbal, visual and written communication
  • Exposition

I guess some form of exposition is the end game here (and it is the focus of the final year of the course), which is all a form of communication and whatnot. I need to start considering thse areas some more...

So what actually is the P3? Well, according to the notes it encompasses:

  • One year, three year and five year plans.
  • Defining my aims.
  • How to achieve these [aims], what can I put in place, how can I maximise the opportunity to achieve my aims?
  • Recognise aims will shift as time passes.
  • Realism, relevance and achievability.

I'm not going to add anything more at this time, I have a lot of other things to consider over th Christmas break, but I will need to start thinking about it soon.
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Papergirl Blackburn mention

I mentioned the other day that I was taking part in the Papergirl Blackburn initiative (exhibition in November, from the 6th to the 16th), well they ran an entry on my submission the other day whilst I was in France – I was lucky to catch it really. Anyway, here’s the start of it, and there’s the full entry here.

Papergirl

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Alumni mention...

Apparently there's an OCA alumni newsletter, although for some reason I don't receive it. In a recent edition of the newsletter, summer's exhibition in Sheffield received a mention. I've blogged about some of the work going into [( 6 )] earlier on, so won't go into it too much more, other than to say it's nice that people are still talking about it and generally in a favourable light. I just wish that they'd not misspelled my name, that's something that has irked me for many, many years now...

alumni

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Papergirl Blackburn

About a week ago I received an e-mail from ACE Nelson about a community mixed arts project in my area called Papergirl Blackburn, part of the Blackburn is Open initiative. The idea has come over from Germany where there was some legislation introduced about displaying arts in the streets so an idea was born to hand the art to people instead. I don’t know the nitty-gritty of the back story, but basically the art is distributed free of charge, loosely rolled like a newspaper might be. Or something like that. I kind of like the idea, although of course it will never make an artist rich (or even afford the beans to go on the toast) to give work away, but there is always the possibility people will see the work that might not otherwise see it, and who know where that might go?

As
Speak My Language was originally printed as a (roughly) A3 newsprint book, and A3 is the size of the work requested it seemed to be an obvious choice to submit. Unfortunately the newspaper was snagging in my printer this time, so it’s now on a thicker inkjet paper stock. A compromise, but this wasn’t a project I was willing to sacrifice hundreds of pounds worth of printer for...

SML_papergirl
The prints are ready now, packaged up ready for posting before the deadline, so that’s a done deal.

The work will be exhibited in November for 10 days prior to distribution at the St John’s Centre in Blackburn, I’ll try and get in to see what’s on show, but there’s no guarantee with that.

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OCA Vimeo feed : A Forest


Student work uncovered - Rob™ from Open College of the Arts on Vimeo.

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Format : no for SUW

Just a quick post to state that I had been wanting to submit Some Unholy War into Format for next year, but it’s not ready yet. I don’t have a favoured edit of photographs, I don’t know what size they should be, I don’t even know if I’m done with the creation of the images I have at the moment. I certainly haven’t written my artists statement about the series yet. Tonight’s deadline will therefore come and go without Some Unholy War being registered in it. Perhaps a good thing to avoid it being launched onto the circuit half-cocked. There will be other opportunities, for Format and for elsewhere.
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Introduction to Professional Practice

A first introduction to Professional Practice, covering much less time than the allotted hour. What is meant by “Professional Practice”? Well, it seems pretty much everything, which is fine - I would hate it to be a very specific list of things relating to being a working professional in the normal sense of the word as this would probably be of less interest. Art is unlikely to make up the bulk of my income any time soon. Whilst Caroline was talking, I was busy writing down bullet points, which is all I will present here - bullet points that will undoubtedly become more rounded and meaningful in due course as we explore and discuss topics:
  • The world of Art
  • How do we present our art outside the studio
  • Finding a place we are comfortable with in the Art World
  • Looking at other artists
  • Witnessing and questioning curatorial practice
  • Engage within our field of art
  • Awareness of the Art World (chosen field and wider)
  • Connecting with local and wider groups
  • Consideration of our audience

All this will come to head in a PPP at some point too, which then forms part of the end of year submission. A growing account of how we see ourselves as artists within the Art World.
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[( 6 )] : The video

This video was produced by Mark Lomas of the OCA on the evening of the Private View for the exhibition, [( 6 )] - the filming was absolutely the worst thing about the night, as my mouth went dry and my mind went blank... Mark’s done a pretty good job at making me seem quite “normal”, probably by using more of the footage of Keith and Nigel...



The video can be found online here, together with the many other videos produced by OCA.

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[( 6 )] : Half way through...

IMG_2901

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...

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[( 6 )] : Vernisage

Well, last night was the Private View - I think it went well, just got to hear some proper feedback now...
_DSF1048_DSF1049IMG_3959_DSF1050_DSF1053IMG_3948
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[( 6 )] : Hanging

So, Saturday 5th July was the day of the hang. However, in the run up to that there was a lot of prep work to be done, not least of all ensuring everything was printed. Now, the other prep to be done will vary depending on the hanging method and the gallery, etc. but for mine, Dewald’s and Tanya’s work I was planning to use battens and velcro to attach the photographs to the wall - you can’t use velcro alone as it damages the walls. Keith used a dibond material, which is heavier so his are on sub-frames. Anyway, back to the prep - all of the battens had to be cut to length, pre-drilled (to avoid splitting the wood) and velcro attached to save time. I also gathered all the bits and bobs I thought I would need - saw, drill, screwdriver, tape measure, knife, rule, spare battens, spare velcro, screws, white cotton gloves... all sorts of stuff.

Bank Street Arts opened a little earlier than their normal 11:00 start to allow us to have a fighting chance at getting 6 photographers work up in the 5 gallery spaces. Tom from Bank Street was on hand at first to give some guidance to getting started, including the useful nugget of info that the accepted norm is that the centre of the photograph should be at a height of 157cm. Obviously, like any rules this one is made for being broken, but for the most part we stuck with it.

_DSF1013 (1)

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.

_DSF1027

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.

IMG_2862IMG_2864IMG_2873_DSF1045IMG_2867

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[( 6 )] : Getting the word out there

Without an audience to communicate with, the exhibition is just an exercise in spending money. In terms of telling that audience about the show, most of what I have done has been via Twitter, although with just a few characters to use with each tweet, there needs to be something to back it up. I’ve also been using Tumblr for longer posts, which auto-tweet anyway, and my normal blog on robtm.co.uk. I’m not a Facebook user, so that’s out of the question, but I know some of the others are, so hopefully they’ve been using it.

I also have a mailing list which I use to let people know about things that are happening, the last couple of these have been about the exhibition. It’s not got a huge distribution list at the moment, but it does get to a few people in the industry. Whether they read it or not is another matter...

mailer

Add to this an exhibition website that Dewald has created, then there’s a certain amount out there. He also created a flyer, which I will print up and put in the gallery window.

Elizabeth Underwood, from Underwood Works and OCA has been helping in terms of the Private View, gathering lists of invitees and co-ordinating the press-release and a
handout (which we had to provide the material for). The PV has been handled via Eventbrite, which I suppose in many ways is similar to Mailchimp that I use for my mailing list.

There’s probably more I should be doing, but I’m lacking the physical capacity at the moment...

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[( 6 )] : Other considerations

There are many considerations to take account of: for the work itself, supplementary material, promotions... there are bound to be things we didn’t think of, but here are some of things that I have:

Sponsorship - is it possible to get some money towards the show? Well, the other 5 didn’t seem to bothered about this as the costs weren’t astronomical, however I did manage to get some discounted printing from Paul Graham Image Specialists, and the OCA agreed to fund the PV. I also got something via the company I help run, but this is much like paying for it myself... If the show was to be bigger, and everyone was in agreement, then sponsorship would be more of a consideration to take onboard.

Presentation of the prints - My prints are going to be full bleed and on forex. Using forex means that a frame is unnecessary, and the prints come across as more “immediate”, to me at least. Also, not having glass means that there will be far fewer reflections - what there is will likely be a sheen, rather than a mirror like one as seen in these installation shots of Simone Lueck’s
The Once and Future Queens.

IMG_0128
That’s me in the left hand image - not the woman, the reflection!

How to hang the prints - mirror plates, strap hangers, “D” hooks... there’s many options here. I’ve opted for wooden battens to which I can attach velcro, then to the back of the forex. I suppose traditional battens would be the split kind, but then how are they attached to the forex print? Velcro seems much more versatile, and forgiving which is maybe more important - if we don’t get the batten 100% level, the velcro will allow it to be corrected. This is my first time you know...

Should I use captions - my immediate answer to this is “no”. I’m not a huge fan of individual captions, although it does of course depend on the photographs and the style of captions. Sometimes they’re really important, other times less so, especially if there is a good artists statement available. So, no captions for me, although having said that there is a small sheet with the credits for the various lyrics on it for
Speak My Language.

Postcards - should I create postcards or some other promo items? Many of us have, myself included - I used Moo, a fairly cheap and flexible option, giving reasonable quality results on a rigid card stock (some offering are on slightly thicker than normal paper - very poor). I opted for two different styles of postcard for
A Forest - one featuring the “official” juxtaposition, the correct images if you like, and another that just has half the image pairing so that they can be combined with another half to make a different object/forest juxtaposition when placed together. Obviously, these won’t be where the item was found, but I thought it might be nice to be a little playful... I’ve also got some postcards of Speak My Language from a while ago, so will be using those.

A catalogue - we originally decided not to have a catalogue, but in the end I wanted something for my own gratification which is developing into a full-on catalogue. Maybe I’ll make it available...
(note: the catalogue has indeed materialised with a nice introduction from Sharon Boothroyd. The catalogue is available from
Blurb.)

Displaying
A Forest book with the exhibition - there’s more images in the book than the exhibition, so should I also include the book with the exhibition? I’ve decided to do this, but only whilst I’m there in person (for the PV, and if I make it to the gallery any other time). I could also ask for the Gallery copy of Speak My Language to be wheeled out, but it was looking a little damp/tired last time I saw it.

Sales - do I sell my work, and if so at what sort of price? Obviously, I’d be very happy to seek my work there, but I’ve no idea about pricing. It’s a headache just thinking about it...

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[( 6 )] : The blurb

As I've produced each body of work, I've written statements for them, so these acted as the starting points for the blurb that will be used in the exhibition. I've also used the bio from my main website as the starting point too - little tweaks have been made, which have sometime been fed into the other works. It's all too easy to keep on refining things over and over, with the danger that the original thoughts become muddied. Hopefully this hasn't happened here though.

With the bio and statement largely in hand, thoughts turned to publicity. I'm really grateful to Dewald for pulling together the website but before we could do that, we had to decide on a name. E-mails were pinging back and forth with various names on - I favoured something abstract like "Show" (which also, rather selfishly, fitted in with my current habit of naming everything after songs, or in this case an album), whilst others wanted something more descriptive. We finally settled on 6 : Personal Explorations in Photography as there was 6 of us, and all the projects are quite personal to us... As for a logo, I asked the graphics guys for help, but none was forthcoming (maybe because I asked for a freebie), so I did the basics myself and came up with [( 6 )], with the textual elements intending to represent a camera. Whether people pick up on that, I've no idea, but it's what I see.

Dewald's
[( 6 )] website uses the weebly engine, and is pretty straightforward, but clean and to the point. I like it. We opted for three images each as any more might actually mean that there's not really any point in seeing the exhibition, it would all have been seen already (although, to be fair, if you know us, you've seen them anyway). Dewald also pulled together the header image that's being used in the marketing.

six

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[( 6 )] : The space

With the space provisionally booked, we set about working out the details of who could go where, what would be exhibited and such. Now, there are 5 rooms at BSA, and 6 of us exhibiting so someone was going to have to share. Sharing the biggest room would have been the obvious solution, but the obvious is not always the best solution and there was some thought as to what would visually work.

Knowing the available space also helps in defining the works to be shown. Three of the artists are urban landscape, so it makes sense to keep them together. I was exhibiting a (loosely) landscape piece and a documentary one, there was some more social documentary and some portraiture. Dewald was initially looking at showing video, so would need a darkened room which precluded sharing with someone with prints, which meant that the logical choice would be for Tanya and Nigel to share a room. By putting Dewald, Tanya and Nigel in the "left wing" of the gallery, this meant that my two pieces could take the central room and act as a transition from the landscape to the left, and the soc-doc and portraiture to the right. Well, it makes sense in my mind although I'm not too sure how well I'm visualising how it will ultimately look. Time will tell!

With the rooms agreed, I set about working out which, how and where my prints would be displayed. I toyed with more prints from A Forest; maybe 8 or 9 might have worked but in the end I decided on a bit more space around them and have had 7 printed. I also toyed with the idea of printing Speak My Language up as a series of 6x4s, pinning them loosely to the wall, but opted to stick with a large mosaic print, similar to the A0 foldout map version that I'd produced previously, but going bigger... It wasn't until Keith pointed out that shorter people like him might have problems seeing it all that I had to have a slight rethink. Whilst it will be a large print overall, the individual elements won't be so I've changed the layout now, and hopefully it will be more accessible to all.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 19.29.57

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[( 6 )] : The gallery

So, as I said, first thing to sort out is the space. I say first thing, but there's lots of other stuff going on at the same time but whilst there's uncertainty about the space, you can't sort out everything else. The amount of space is one thing, how much is cost is another and who will be there a third. Obviously there are other things too, but hopefully these will get wrapped up as I go along.

Whilst not officially a "graduate" show, the fact is that the people who'd expressed an interest are all graduates or almost-graduates due to the flexible nature of the OCA assessment events. With this in mind, one of the first ports of call was the London based Free Range exhibition space. I spent a good 30 minutes or so talking with Tamsin O’Hanlon whilst she was in South Africa, and she outlined the various opportunities that they had available during the Photography period (they apparently do different weeks for different arts). The cheapest they had going was circa £2500+VAT for the week, that was for what sounded like a reasonable sized space, probably a little too large for the half dozen of us interested though, and certainly it would've ended up far too expensive at circa £500 just for the space. The space is unmanned too, so this would need to be factored in meaning time off work (unpaid), hotel bills for a week (or whatever I attended for) and then time for putting up and taking down. Together with printing, any promo stuff and odds and ends, I was looking at the thicker end of about £5-6k. It was never going to happen...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that a London show is not value for money. If I was at the beginning of a photography career, was sharing the venue with a few more people, didn't have to forego a week's income or pay for a London hotel and associated travel expenses (I'm too old and set in my ways to slum it anymore), then the added footfall and media attention that something like Free Range would attract would be invaluable, and a good show could be the start of a good career. The fact is, I don't ever really see photography as completely replacing my day job, well, not until I slip into semi-retirement or something and then maybe do a bit of lecturing (not sure I have the right mentality) or maybe sell a few prints (are they desirable?). So, for me at the current time, it seems a lot to spend for dubious benefit.

So where else? Well, bearing in mind the locations of those that stated an interest, Bank Street Arts in Sheffield came to mind. It's not on anyone's doorstep, but it is probably roughly equidistant between us - halfway between Suzhou and NYC! Well, there's 2 of us in the NW of England, and 2 in the south anyway. It also helped that I knew of BSA, and more to the point I like the place. It's not precious, it's not somewhere to fill me with awe, but it feels accessible and that's pretty important for me in what will be my first "major" show, well a show with my name in lights above the door (well, not really but you know what I mean) and more than one or two images installed anyway.

Initial enquiries revealed the costs (much cheaper than London at £550 for 2 weeks for the whole ground floor) and the submission procedure. This procedure was basically to provide some practical information (who, what, how many, how long, etc.) and also a written
submission proposal with brief artist bios and the like. I let the others write something in this respects, then sought to homogenise them into something cohesive. I'm not sure how rigorous the selection process is - was it space available and you're in? But there was space available a week before our proposed dates, so we were in! We had a space for July.
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Kicking things off with [( 6 )]

I know, I know. I’ve not formally started the MA yet but here I am banging some notes down in a blog. Well, I figured that doing so would be relevant and beneficial in this case, because it’s all to do with putting on an exhibition.

Earlier this year, I put out a call to see if anyone was interested in putting something on the Source website and grabbing some exhibition space to show our wares to the public. Five others rallied to the exhibition call (well, 4 at first, one came later and another one to Source), and so the six of us had to sort out an exhibition, this entry will merely set the scene, and the following posts will cover off some of the things I’ve been up to in order to pull it all off (others have done stuff too, don’t get me wrong on that - I’m just really blogging about what I’ve done).

So, a bunch of people, some photographs and where do we go from there?

Well, I suppose the first thing is the space, and from there we can decide how many, which and whatnot. A big space means big costs, both in terms of hiring it and filling it with prints.

There’s also the artist bios and the statements, which are needed up front as you often need to provide a proposal (I suppose this isn’t necessary for everywhere)

Publicity is a beast all by itself, where and how to promote. Private views to arrange and all that stuff.

Printing and then installing....

Stressing the PV, people are going to want to talk about the work! Actually, it will be worse if people DON’T want to talk about the work, but still, talking about the work is a big thing.

Oh, what am I thinking?!?
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