I have a solo exhibition, “Women in Love”, opening next week, variously described as “…an exhibition of life drawings, evoked by the words of literary authors who delved into the intricacies and extremes of emotions in love. Titled after D.H.Lawrence’s novel, artworks have been influenced by writers including William Shakespeare, Emily Brontë, Pierre Choderlos De Laclos and W. Somerset Maugham.”
The fun was in the research, reading classic literature in search of powerful stories of love and angst. What a joy,
exploring these works, loving every paragraph, every page.
The challenge was, not surprisingly, to bring life to these fictional characters in the essence of how I visualized them. Months of going to untutored life drawing sessions to capture what each model could bring to the studio. Finding my Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) wasn’t easy! But when the right model was in the room, I worked swiftly.
“Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” Heathcliff, “Wuthering Heights”- Emily Brontë
….and then the work begins. There’s so much to do for an exhibition, beyond the creativity. Notwithstanding the
application to a venue (my exhibition will be held in the foyer gallery of a live performance theatre space, Chapel Off Chapel – photo), the preparation and lead-up requires a good deal of dedicated time.
I frame my artworks. This can be enjoyable. I say “can” as I am meticulous about the mounting of each work, to create the exact amount of space and presence. If I’m pleased with the result, then the framing is a labour of love. But, it is around this point that I may doubt whether the work is ‘good enough’. If not, then it doesn’t go past mounting. It may
return to my studio to be re-worked, or put away for future consideration…or may not!
The preparedness and marketing
Design: After photographing artworks and selecting the hero image(s), the design work starts with DL emailed invitation, the Facebook event saver, the A3 poster for the venue, the opening night reminder DL and greeting cards that I usually sell at openings.
Writing: brief description of the exhibition for the venue’s website and newsletter, any online or press listings, media
releases, prompt notes (if needed for interviews), artist statement and opening night speech.
Lists: invitation list, media list, artwork pricing list, with specifications. The last list is the most difficult – putting a dollar value on the the artwork.
Publicity: those online listings take time too. Each has its own little tricks, they’re not all straightforward, pages sometimes don’t work. Next! Emailing event details with media releases and images attached to Arts/What’s On/Weekend Planner activities in the press dailies. Targeted approaches to the media, phone calls, follow-up and scheduling interviews/photo sessions.
Timeline: a.k.a. the “to do list”. This document evolves as I work my way through the above ‘preparedness’. Logistics (with tick boxes) are here too. Three weeks out from the exhibition and I had over twenty points. I blocked out a couple of weekends in my diary and swooped my way through it. Then, finalise venue arrangements, number of guests (important for the bar!), space within gallery, any technical requirements for opening night, arrangements with curator and guest speaker.