I had mistakenly taken the view that the installation images should show my exhibition within the context of the wider view of the venue. I had chosen to leave in the coffee tables, for example, in order to give a sense of the context.
Whereas I now realise that these should have been removed and I should have focused on the image layout providing much closer shots of the display. While I have some opportunity to rescue the situation for FMP by cropping images, I intend to remedy this shortcoming early in the New Year, by producing images that will be more appropriate in showcasing my work, and demonstrating how it can be displayed to best effect. This will be important as I start to work with galleries in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I also intend to do some more research on how I might display my work moving forward.
The venue that I used for my second exhibition at An Crubh was restricted in terms of the hanging space, and its location at the side of a busy café area.
Whilst it did not have dedicated gallery facilities, the positives, for me, in making my decision to hold the exhibition at this venue were as follows:
- It is one of the premier exhibition venues on Skye
- The exhibition was directly in front of the door as people entered the venue
- It has a high volume footfall seven days a week to a number of commercial spaces including a shop, post office and café (where my exhibition was held)
- It is also a place where the community met for social events such as knitting groups and health and fitness classes
- It has extensive opening hours from 9.30am -5.00pm with late night takeaway services available on Fridays
- It provides me with the opportunity to engage with a large number of local people and also those spending significant periods of time on the Island
- It has a large amount of parking space
- I am the first artist to mount a solo exhibition in the space
However, on the downside, the hanging system and display boards were basic and not as aesthetically pleasing as they might have been, had a lot of ‘dead’ space at the bottom and relied upon the ample but strong lighting of the venue rather than a dedicated lighting system.
Although, I had done quite a lot of research on curating and presenting images for exhibition during the course and had been interested in how a number of professional photographers display their work for exhibition (for example, Sophie Calle, Chrystel Lebas, Sarah Pickering and Cindy Sherman) in retrospect I can see that I became over-focused on practical and commercial considerations rather than the aesthetics and impact of the display.
I had six relatively small boards and I needed to draw people in with some large images as well as others where people needed to view at a closer distance. I had been very aware, given the financial investment, of the commercial considerations – in terms of producing framed prints at a size and price that I thought I could sell. My other priority was displaying as much work as possible in the limited space I had available. I saw the reasonably close proximity of tables to my exhibition as an opportunity for potential viewers of my work to see it at close hand.
From a commercial point of view, the exhibition achieved its objectives of engaging a network of followers, identifying new potential followers and my selling nearly £2,000 worth of images. I will not forget the lesson learned however, in engaging with galleries, that I need a set of strong installation shots. I also need to ensure that I consider both the commercial and aesthetic aspects of future venue choices.