Week 16: Dreams can come true!

Well these will not be the same as everyone’s dreams over the holidays. Mine were to complete my search for an exhibition space and to begin to plan the production of selected images. Lo and behold a saviours in the form of J from MVV Environment (in response to my email to her before the holiday) and a new acquaintance D, met through my popping by to look at newly discovered premises and make tentative enquiries, resulted in two offers, both being made last Friday 4th January!

I have decided to pursue both and hope that both come to fruition. The first offers space (at no charge) in the visitors centre and the opportunity to join and record a creek clean at the side of the incinerator I have visited previously. This will be from mid February. The second is in a location a friend told me about when I expressed a wish to exhibit in a container in December. Not having had the chance to visit and investigate before last week I made time to complete the expedition to scope the location before making any formal enquiry. As luck would have it I was in the right place at the right time and able to speak to the right person who generously gave of their time with a tour and offered support with my venture. Oh and by the way, this second option offered both a gallery and a container with lighting and wifi!

Sarah Newton 2019, Exterior of container at The Clay Factory

When I enquired about hire price in the second location I was asked what budget I had. I had not prepared for such a question not having expected to get so far into this enquiry. On returning home I emailed back with a maximum of £500 based on one or both of the two spaces and to include the cost of assistant time in preparations for and setting up and taking down as well as the provision of refreshments for an opening and the costs of publicity production and distribution. Clearly I have underestimated as the reply correctly pointed out a need to review my estimate and suggested within that budget I should allow for the container and not the small white walled gallery. I agree.

Although this location will involve an exchange of finance I do not think it will be unreasonable given the support I already sense will come with their hosting me.

I now feel catapulted into making decisions about images to be included in both locations and to complete their taking and making which I had not to do just yet as I do not feel ready to say “Thats a wrap”. A couple of days before this news a course colleague helpfully suggested one way to know if your image series is complete is to imagine having to have it finished within the coming week. Then you can decide what else needs to be done to make this happen. Little did I know that something of this sort was about to come my way!

I have requested additional visits in the near future to both locations to discuss details and measure up the spaces in order to help with the selection of images, their sizing and the ways in which they might be placed in the spaces.

Already I am envisioning differences not only in the images I show but also their production methods and in situ presentation. For example, the visitors centre has flat walls in a large brightly lit room used for teaching sessions and meetings. While visitors will be interested in my beach finds I am guessing (until I have discussed it further with J) that images of the recycling containers will also hold interest. The size and surfaces used in printing will depend on the fixings I can use and the extent of the wall space being made available to me. As I recall from previous visits there is a physical display of the various recycling containers used by councils who feed their remaining waste (that previously went to landfill)  to the incinerator. Thus, there is already a compatibility link with my images.

On the other hand the container is a blank canvas inside with one central lightbulb and several circular metal hooks along the top of the walls. Outside is a different matter. The container is indoors in a very large room at the end of a row of containers which have been converted to offices/studios. Also in the room are a dozen or so garden sheds equally spaced and all fitted out as offices with desks, chairs, light and wifi. Multiple party style creations hang from the ceiling. At the end of the room is a kitchen and cafe. I think my images, with their sea debris theme, could be presented in a style that is compatible with the outside area (which almost suggests celebrations, beach huts and holidays). Mounting with magnets will not be a problem which leads me to think about relatively lightweight unframed images. I could also exhibit inside and outside the container.

Sarah Newton 2019, Interior of container at The Clay Factory
Sarah Newton 2019, Container offices and studios at The Clay Factory



Sarah Newton 2019, Offices at The Clay Factory

Both locations offer an opportunity for an ‘opening’, the first being with creek clean volunteers and the second an open invitation noted on the publicity I distribute. Both have some limitations on opening hours being weekdays and during office times unless, in the case of the second one, additional arrangements are made (presumably at a cost). Both venues are easily reached being on ground floors and there is ample parking for visitors. The first is city based and the second rural, close to a town and on the edge of Dartmoor.

Sarah Newton 2017, MVV Environment Incinerator Devonport
Sarah Newton 2019, The Clay Factory
Sarah Newton 2019, View from The Clay Factory

Having reflected for a few days and allowed the realities to encroach on my excitement I am well aware that there is a significant way to go to ensure these offers actualise as successful exhibitions. I wonder whether I should have a fall back option just in case…

The Clay Factory. Available at: http://theclayfactory.co.uk/  [accessed 17/12/18].

MVV Environment. https://www.mvv.de/en/mvv_energie_gruppe/mvv_umwelt/beteiligungen/mvv_environment_1/index.jsp [accessed 04/01/19].