Preparing for a rather large exhibition

Nine months ago I applied to hold a solo exhibition in an arts centre I admire. The Horsebridge Arts Centre, Whitstable has a rather large gallery and a smaller one and it was the larger I applied for. And when I say large, I mean it – 13 x 8 metres. I had exhibited there before but only in group shows. So this was a big commitment for me on a number of levels. 2019 was going to be the year of going big or going home.

I was delighted my proposal was accepted with the title ‘The Colours of Expression’. It has a two fold theme, with expression being both the emotional response we have to colours as well as the colours associated with expression. I was excited at the thought of the paintings I was going to create on this theme.

But where to start with the preparation? I began by making lists and lists and lists. A list of concept ideas – how did I want my art to be presented? A list of possible merchandise that would tie in with the concept. Equipment lists and to do lists. Now I am only days away from the opening, I am very grateful to my rather ordered self who made all those lists all those months ago!

The second thing I did was to ask my very supportive husband to make a model of the exhibition space so that I could work out the paintings’ placement. I had seen David Hockney do this when he had a large exhibition at the RA in 2012. Despite being the daughter of an architect, I am not great at thinking in 3D and so part of me was thinking this is a cool thing to do, but I’m not sure how much actual use it is going to be. As it turns out, it has been invaluable. Placing the paintings within the model has visually seared the exhibition into my mind, ensuring a strong concept from the beginning. It also helps because my husband and I have the same vision – we can often have completely different visions of the same idea(!)

Other factors I needed to consider: did I want large vinyl signs on the entrance window and on the walls with the name of the exhibition, together with a quote from Jung about water and the unconscious – like a ‘proper’ exhibition? What kind of merchandise did I want and how would I go about sourcing it and how would I display it? (The galleries officer at the Horsebridge advised making the merchandise part of the exhibition rather than a table of things to sell.) When and how to market it?

I was also invited to give a talk or a workshop, so I decided to do both. The talk, ‘Emotion and the Baroque’, on the first Saturday, will examine how Baroque art expressed emotion and compare it to the Renaissance art that preceded it. The workshop on the following Saturday will focus on my cards, The Colour Potential Card Deck.

This is the outcome of all those lists, all those months of thinking, thinking and, of course, painting:

Now so near I feel excited, slightly nervous, a little tired but above all thrilled that I have got to this point.

The house has been turned upside down and is full of paintings, equipment, invites, titles, lists, and gold, copper and silver leaf everywhere!

Archie the Dog is not impressed!

Here are some of the works that will be on show in the exhibition:

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So if, by chance, wonderful readers any of you are in visiting distance of Whitstable and would like to come along to the exhibition or to any of the accompanying events it would be a delight to see you.

In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for future posts of the exhibition in all its glory!

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