Surfaces and Strategies week 6: Some considerations when planning my exhibition

We were given a set of questions to consider when planning our exhibitions. Although I thought of some answers when reading them initially I have had them in mind when visiting the location and am now able to give more well defined and specific responses.

What impact does your chosen space have upon your photography, and vice-versa?
Having chosen a multifunctional space which offers various activities including coffee shop, general stores and artists studio and teaching space as well as gallery space for local artists, I am aware that are a few considerations to bear in mind. I will have a three sided area one of four ‘stalls’ displaying works of art (drawings and paintings) from various artists with a facing wall showing the paintings of the resident artist and owner. Having spent a little time there, people passing through the location come in for refreshments as well as locals coming in for supplies. They may have seen the other exhibits before and not look to see if there is any new work. There is very limited parking which means people who come specifically will need to walk a short distance to reach the gallery.

What is around the work that can direct or distract attention to and away from it? Could anything in that environment be used to heighten awareness of your work or emphasise the reading of it?
Although mine is planned to stand out with some installation work as well as images, the work of the other artists may be more of a draw for viewers. In addition, having spent a little time there, people passing through the location come for refreshments as well as locals coming in for supplies. They may have seen the other exhibits before and not look to see if there is any new work.

My recent work, images abstracted from beach debris, may not convey my aim to increase awareness of and responsibility for our waste management. Thus I have begun to plan an installation to reinforce the connection with the beach. I will be using the floor space to display large sealed kilner jars of some of the debris I have collected set out on a large beach towel that has been printed with my image of a pile of waste I have collected from beaches. A couple of hessian bags made with my images along with several square black backed blocks with my images of personal possessions found on the beach will also be on the towel. At the side I will have a small table with additional items with my images including mugs, coasters and placemats as if to suggest a picnic on the beach. I have considered making bunting from some of the fabrics I have found and stringing this with fishing lines along with displaying some of my images cut into bunting triangles. The ceiling lights for displaying work on the walls may prohibit this unless I am able to hang it at a lower level or drape it around the table and edge of the towel.

Who will your viewers be and what does your work expect of them? Does it expect them to be literate about photography or internet literate? Does your work expect too much / too little of your audience?
As indicated the visitors to the venue are a mix of locals, tourists, art students, school children (who come for lessons although schools will be on holiday) and guests I invite. As the potential viewers are so diverse I am not able to predict their responses. I expect some will like some images, some will find the concept amusing- my displaying images of rubbish, some will understand that it is about found rubbish on beaches, some may reflect on their own behaviours and that of their family and friends in relation to waste management. I plan to have a visitors sheet or book for comments and suggestions and have contemplated a competition to encourage completion. For example, “please comment and make suggestion about what you have seen. If you can leave your name and phone and email one person will be randomly selected to receive the item they would like to have from this display at the end of the exhibition on 24th August”.

How long will you allow people to view your work? Is there a particular sequence in which you want the work to be experienced, or will you ’empower’ the viewer by allowing them to wonder freely around the space?
The location is open everyday 09:00am to 17:30pm and people can spend as long as they like there. They can choose where to focus their gaze. The space is viewed from the open side of a three sided ‘stall’ which cannot be fully walked into given the floor installation although people will be able to easily see the display and lean forward slightly to see more detail. It is 2metres wide (back panel) by 1.2metres deep (side panels).

How much can your viewer engage with the work directly? Can they contribute to it, or interact with it?
I may have to have a small notice asking people not to touch the installation pieces as these could break and be harmful (e.g. glass kilner jars and some glass coasters).

Do you value the thoughts and opinions of the viewer? If so, how would you go about collecting those?
I will be very interested to see their views on the comments and suggestions sheet which will be on the display table.

This has been a very useful exercise in making me think through some of the issues and influences in preparing for the exhibition. Clearly the Landings 2018 exhibition which will be an online collection of my images but not include the installation element will be a different experience. Although I cannot predict who will look at my gallery on the Squarespace site I would guess that they would include people who are interested in photography or those who know me personally and are following my journey into photography.

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