In contrast to Exhibition 1 at the Incinerator visitors centre exhibiting in a metal box and on a wooden wall presented challenges in terms of printing and hanging images. Inside the shipping container it was clear that magnets would be best and with no sticky surfaces applied to the surfaces. Nails were favoured for the slatted wooden wall. Both surfaces were uneven; the metal walls corrugated so sizing images to be hung on prominent corrugations was important, the wooden wall comprised overlapping slats in a downward flow and meant that the surface undulated repeatedly from top to bottom thus making ‘flat’ hanging a challenge.
Outside and inside surfaces of the shipping container
I experimented with some of the images I had used in the first exhibition, discarding some and introducing different ones from the pool I had created to draw from for the FMP. Initially done by moving images around on a large noticeboard I then moved to a folded cardboard made from a box before discovering a wooden wine box had almost the same dimensions as the container, thus a 3D model was formed. I also took photographs of the empty container and the blank wooden wall and superimposed scaled images onto both to get a feel for looked right on the actual walls. I decided to have images of recycling on parts of the outside mimicking looking into recycling banks and because these images had been used in the initial publicity and would therefore be identifiable and recognisable by visitors drawing them in a flow from back to front of the container (this being the approach they would take on entering a large factory space with two levels of containers with windows all being used as offices and studios). The container I was using had no windows but it did have power points, two tungsten lightbulbs and wifi.
The beach debris images were destined for the inside walls of the container. Some time before I had decided this was the right place as debris should be deposited in appropriate places but this plan also symbolically alludes to the containers spilled by ships at sea and with damage and deterioration their significant contribution to the materials floating in the gyres, onto our beaches and resting on the sea bed (Morris 2017). In retrospect, I could perhaps have laid all these images on the floor or the ceiling of the container to make this point stronger.
I ordered and experimented with silver and black magnets of different strengths and sizes (10mm, 15mm and 20mm). I settled for some of each size, each to relate to the different sizes the images were printed at. I also chose black. Although they came with an adhesive backing I chose not to use that because it would have made keeping the printed images difficult to roll and store for future use and I could not leave sticky marks possibly with magnets still attached on the surface of the metal walls. In addition since my images were on a black background I thought the black magnets would blend and not be noticed on the beach debris images, and when visible on the recycling images would not detract from the impact they conveyed. Three sets of 9 7.5 x 7.5cms magnetised images of both the beach debris and recycling images proved helpful in preparing hanging plans and having available on the container doors at the exhibition for visitors to rearrange to their liking. Having experimented with the magnets and test images on the side of my fridge freezer and central heating radiators I visited the container and tried this method of hanging out with test prints of different sizes. This also allowed me to assess whether the strength of magnets I proposed were correct for the weight of the images and they were.
My choice of surface for printing the beach debris and recycling images that were to be used with the container was 250gsm Fujifilm. Having looked at several options as reported previously (https://sarahnewtonphotoblog.com/2019/03/20/fmp-weeks-18-23-test-strips-on-paper-and-fabric/) good quality unframed posters were appropriate for lightness and the context. Mounted and framed images would have looked out of place, albeit an interesting contrast with the industrial setting, and would have been difficult to hang given that drilling and attaching sticky items to the walls were not options. The only concern I had when ordering was the limited sizes available through this online service. I would have liked the option to request specific sizes that suited both the image and the space available for hanging. This was particularly important given that I wanted the images flat against the metal walls and not being bent around the corrugations. So careful measuring of the corrugations and matching to the available sizes for posters was essential. Even then I managed to miss some variation in the spacing of the corrugations by assuming all the walls were the same! This lead to an adjustment to my hanging plan at the last moment. In addition, I had assumed the container was level on the factory floor which itself undulated in parts! I had to accept that in setting up my images with a spirit level the lines of the corrugations would not exactly match the straight edges of the images. Thankfully it all worked out!
Slatted wooden wall
Hanging on the wooden wall went smoothly. I ordered nails with a prominent head for hanging pictures as well as standard picture hooks to have a backup system in case the first one failed. The latter made the images stick out at an angle from the slatted board. However the nails could be embedded at different depths to accommodate any adverse effects of the overlapping slats in order for the images to hang flat and not at an angle. There were no adjustments to the hanging plan needed thanks to my learning from preparations for Exhibition 1 and more recent experimentation with magnetised images on the fridge and radiators at home.
Having printed on posters and magnetised squares the third surface for the recycling images was UV printed directly on 5mm PVC panels for hanging on the wooden slatted wall. I had used this method before for the Beauty and the Beach exhibition in August 2018. My thinking was to be able to reuse the printed images in other locations, such as the beach and in school settings. Thus their claim to be water-resistant and scratch-resistant was appealing. They also come ready to hang with fixings attached to the back.
Outside the container and on the wooden wall lighting was provided with industrial strip lights and limited natural sunlight through windows and a large factory door when it was open. Inside the container two overhead light bulbs produced a bright light which would have done if I had wanted a clinical stark and empty feeling when viewing images inside it. My instinct was to create something of an atmosphere. I took advice from a theatrical producer who loaned equipment for me to experiment with at home and when ‘rehearsing’ in the container. He offered up to 5 floor up lighters used in stage shows and a range of coloured rolls of plastic from which I could make filters. Downlighter spots as one might see in some galleries were not an option with limitations on being able to attach fixings to the ceiling and the positioning of electrical sockets such that wires would be trailing and hanging above visitors heads.
The additional equipment offered was a dimming board which would give me control of individual lights. I also looked into mood lamps available online and at large DIY stores as these can be set to particular colours or to scroll through a set of colours, some with projected patterns. I worked out that I would need more than one and the costs would have mounted. So following experimentation I selected three lights and remained until setting up day undecided between blue and red filters or a combination of both.
The blue created a cold mystical feel and the light seemed more prominent than the content of the images. The red created a glow with some warmth inviting visitors in and most importantly seemed to illuminate the images to best advantage. I decided not to use the dimmer board as the extra trailing wires presented an additional hazard and I would have had to stay close to the equipment to safeguard it. I could also adjust the lighting by switching one or two lights off to create an effect and also to allow them to cool. I placed warnings about the lamps possibly being warm and not to get close to them at the entrance to the container. An additional health and safety element was to lay carpet (which happened to be sand coloured) on the central aisle in the middle of the floor and away from the lights. This was particularly important as potential visitors included children. The carpet also served the purpose of dampening sound when walking in the container.
The Clay Factory (http://theclayfactory.co.uk/) rents out space for businesses and artists studios. Run by a social enterprise, Redpod Enterprises, in conjunction with the Eddystone Trust. Subsidiaries include RedPod Arts and RedPod Food. Out-Sight-In exhibition was located near the pop up lunches cafe RedPod Food and close to the studios of two artists, Anita Reynolds and Sarah Gilbert. My images and their work as shown on the outside of their studios at the time of the exhibition worked well in so far as their focus on land and seascapes and mine on debris blighting both meant that we were complementary and not conflicting. In addition, the large room we were all accommodated in had a series of huts decorated as beach huts (each was a fully equipped office inside) and was being developed and decorated with an overarching beach theme. Again it felt as if the images I was presenting fitted in well.
The Clay Factory requested that all the stage lighting I would be using should be PAT tested. Having checked all the lights, adapters and extensions I arranged for an electrician to ensure this was done (some items were due to run out shortly after the time of the exhibition so they were included too).
Public & Products Liability and Professional Indemnity (PPL and PI) insurance
The Clay Factory requested that I have public liability insurance. There are a number of organisations available to cover artists and photographers. I researched options and costs and took out a policy which will cover me for events over the coming year.
MORRIS, Hugh. 2017. Lost cargo and rubber ducks: Inside the curious world of container shipping. The Telegraph, Travel: Travel Truths, 21st November 2017. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travel-truths/lost-container-ships-bizarre-world-of-global-shipping/ [accessed 08-04-2019].