A couple of years ago I blogged about putting on an exhibition, here and here. This year I am finally doing it. I have ignored a number of the rules or suggestions I posited when I wrote about this earlier as I realised, when setting up your first exhibition it should be as easy as possible to do.
Also this year I have a larger body of work, and a better quality body of work to justify such an endeavour. Gone then are extravagant plans for a group show or a themed show or anything like that. I shall simply be putting on an exhibition and seeing what happens.
The date is Saturday 19th August. The venue is Chalmers Bequest Gallery, behind the Stoke Newington library on Stoke Newington Church Street. In fact here:
I had originally thought about having a multiday exhibition with perhaps an opening night party and so on. Perhaps next time though. Instead it will be one day. My father is very excited about this having earlier in his life assisted my grandmother with her exhibitions. He has been emailing me with all sorts of useful advice like, having labels for the paintings with room for the traditionally dictated red dots that signify a sale, having a list of everything on display to hand out to people, having a book to record sales and another book for people to write their contact details and comments in. All good stuff.
Why then the venue. Well it is cheap to hire. Just over £60 a day. For one’s first foray into such not getting to carried away with such things is a prudent step. Secondly it is quite well located. Admittedly not directly on a main thoroughfare but close to one, and well signposted from the main street. Stoke Newington Church Street is quite busy. It tends to be populated by a combination of hipsters, mid 30 somethings and people with young families. I am hoping this mix will bring in some punters. The venue is nice too. The library itself has a nice frontage as does the gallery.
The gallery was though, amusingly difficult to hire. One has to email the library to establish available dates. 19th August was one such. Then they send you a form to complete. You send this back. You send it back again in a format they can open on their email. You are then sent a different form. You have to take this form to the library to pay for the hire. You go to the desk. The man behind the desk disappears to summon the supervisor for only he can accept payments. You wait for a few minutes. A dignified quite man, with reading glasses, the type of man indeed produced from those factories that specialise in library supervisors appears. He slowly examines your form, types away on a computer then requests payment. You attempt to pay to only then be informed they only take cash (or cheque). Fortunately the post office 3 doors down is open you go and get cash. You return, the supervisor is summoned again and finally you pay, being given a receipt and leave wondering vaguely if in fact the venue will be available when you pitch up on the 19th.
Slightly irritatingly other than people capacity there are no dimensions available for the venue. I have been there before though a good few times and it is quite large. Probably 3 meters by 10 meters. It also has good lighting and cables hanging on the wall for the putting up of pictures. In one corner is a useful curved bar thing which will be handy for the wrangling of people, taking of payment (hopefully). A stage sits at one end and I’m not too sure how I’m going to use that. It is also, not too far from my house, making logistics easier.
Why then the 19th August. Well for a number of reasons. Firstly it is the only Saturday they had available in August. Secondly it gives me enough time to plan and promote the show and thirdly various people, including Hugh Mendes, are not available in July and August allows me to secure attendance of as many of my family, friends and associates as possible.
What then is the purpose of the show? Well there are two systems at work. The first is to try and sell a painting, any painting to someone I don’t know. The second is to see which of my works attract the most attention and have the most appeal.
I have a number of types of paintings that I do. I do big paintings. These fall into basically two groups, abstract or figurative landscapes. Are people interested in these?
I then have smaller paintings and these also fall into basically two groups, still life and landscapes. Which of these will have the greater appeal.
I then do small experimental pieces. Are people interested in these?
I have my mostly abstract palette knife paintings such as these below. Are people interested in these?
Finally I have my gouache patterns.
In addition to this perhaps I will be able to produce commissions for the pet portrait side of my work, promote myself generally and of course, I think it will be fun.
At present I have 45 possible paintings to go in the show. This is probably more than the gallery can hold and one of my tasks between now and 19th August is to figure out a hanging scheme.
In the meantime the publicity drive begins. The excellent Owen Smith who took the better of the photos that appear on this post, also produce me some fliers. One is at the top and the rest are below. Good aren’t they? These shall soon be posted on-line and also printed in various sizes and distributed. It’s all quite exciting.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.