Andrea called me wondering if I would like to hang a textile exhibition at Refinery Art Space. It was the Nelson Marlborough Buller Area Exhibition of Creative Fibre, (read: regional exhibition of the national guild organization.) I didn't know about this exhibition because I'm not a member of Creative Fibre this year, but the host, Richmond group was looking for someone to oversee the installation.
Of course I wanted to do this. I've only ever been the top dog of an exhibition once, for my miniature exhibition, and though I voice plenty of unsolicited opinions, I've only assisted Lloyd Hardwood and Arts Council Nelson with their shows. I wanted to see if I had learned anything.
One aspect I'm pleased about is when I went back on Wednesday, the normally ever-so prominent main wall did not look more important than other walls. For this, I give credit to the helpers who created clusters of submitted work at the beginning, and then assigned walls and areas to each.
Work submitted by Marlborough Weavers can be seen here.
Even though I was on my feet for 12 hours, I had a blast. Three goals surfaced, goals I probably started formulating when I spoke to Andrea, and which I could put into words only as Ben and I staggered into the car.
1) The exhibition should aim to look like an art exhibition, not a display by a Women's Institute (not my words, surprisingly,) an old-fashioned art society, or at an Agriculture Show/State Fair; it must look attractive to people outside Creative Fibre.
2) The exhibition should invite Creative Fibre members look at their work and the exhibition as a whole with a new perspective; the exhibition must demonstrate that each piece (or as many pieces as possible) is worthy of scrutiny. I wanted my helpers, the Richmond group, and all area Creative Fibre members to feel they own the exhibition.
3) Everybody who take part in the installation should have a say, and I must be open to different aesthetics.
I think I achieved 2) observing the visitors Wednesday morning, and hopefully 3) as I left many/most decisions to the helpers. As regards 1), I believe fantastic things can be done with a bit of innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, (not my forte, though,) and without necessarily an extravagant budget. My taste is more on sparse/sterile, but I know it's not to everybody's liking; instead of making an entire exhibition look minimalist, I will learn more by studying negative spaces in exhibitions. An advantage in this venture was my intimate knowledge of the gallery, its space, its staff and its workings. In future, I shall look at exhibitions from the installation point of view more often and more closely.
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The day we hung this exhibition was five months away from 2012 National Exhibition paperwork due date, and a year away from the planned opening of Group R's "Beginnings" exhibition.