Exhibit at an Art Gallery

Did you ever think about having an exhibit at an art gallery? I’ve long pondered over what to do with images amassed on my hard drive. I typically only ever print a couple for local photography competitions. Others find their way to Facebook or this site. The vast majority sit hidden away from public view.

I posted the question as to what others do with their images on an online forum. One of the responses peeked my interest – Exhibit at an art gallery. This was something a little bit different.

I have had images featured in our local photography club exhibition before. However, with the large amount of other photographers, styles & genres it is hard to stand out as they were typically dotted around the venue rather than presented as a panel from one author.

Why Exhibit at an Art Gallery?

I didn’t think too long about it to be honest – In my mind it could only be a positive thing.

1.       I get my work in front of an entirely new audience who would never have seen it.

2.       Feel Good Factor – How many other amateur photographers can say they have been solo exhibited?

3.       It is professionally displayed and presented.

4.       Possible sales?

Many people don’t even consider photography as an art form at all. My thoughts on that subject are clearly demonstrated on this link!!! All I had to do was find a gallery who would be willing to let me show some work.

Where to Start

The 1st port of call was a google search for Art Galleries in my local area. 3 popped up. 2 well known local galleries & a 3rd that was completely unknown to me, yet only a couple of miles from home on the beautiful grounds of Listoke House. I reckoned I might have more chance to get a viewing of my work in the lesser known gallery. A phone call later and I had an appointment to meet the owner the following evening.

Panic

At that point, panic set in. I hadn’t even got a portfolio of printed work. I gathered a mix and match of images left over from local competitions and an Ipad with various categorized folders.   

The Pitch

Next problem – what on earth was I going to say to this guy. I work in sales for a living but find it excruciatingly painful to talk myself up. In the end, I was honest and bumbled through an explanation about what I do and why. Luckily the images taken along did most of the talking. Before I knew it, we had agreed I would take a small room off the main gallery 2 weeks later. I walked away extremely humbled by the fact that the work of a certain Lady Markievicz was being taken down to make room for mine. In truth, it wasn’t because my work was amazing, it was simply time to end that particular exhibition. However, this demonstrated the calibre of work this gallery showcased and the type of clientele who may visit.

The Selection

Eventually, 9 images made the final selection. I only wanted a cohesive body of work that sat well together – something a little more artistic than straight landscape images. When I received the framed prints I knew I had given a good representation of myself before they even left my house for hanging in the gallery. I can only thank Frametastic once again for the wonderful job they did.  

Artists Statement

Online research was very clear in declaring that all artists should have a clear artistic statement for a particular body of work. This is not something I ever thought I would need to write and I really struggled with. It needed to describe my work easily to people who don’t have a photographic background. I think it describes my work well and places set of boundaries & check points for future additions to the panel. You can find it below under the slideshow.

The Gallery

Listoke House & Gallery were extremely easy to work with. I simply showed up on the agreed date and hung my images on the wall via the hanging system. I was all done and dusted within 20 minutes. We agreed a 2 week slot over Easter and the work hung until the middle of June. They weren’t overly pushy about how hard or how little I wanted to promote the exhibition.

Being shy, I chose to hold what’s called a soft opening i.e. a small gathering of friends and family on Good Friday. We simply had some coffee and cake in the Garden Café and then wandered into the gallery – no speeches or formalities. I did post a few social media updates letting people know it was on and I know plenty of local photographers visited.

Later on, Listoke actually organised an official opening themselves in conjunction with another photographic exhibition in the main Gallery. I found this quite hard but also funny. The funny part was moving through a room of people who don’t know who you are as they pass comments to each other about your work. I did hear the word “funky” which stuck in my mind. The hard part was standing up in front of a small crowd as someone introduces you and your work. I’m sure there are others who would have no problems with this.   

Pricing

Exhibiting at Listoke had no upfront charges involved – a simple commission structure looked after any sales. This is the surprising bit, the going commission rate in most galleries is 40-60% which explains why artwork is so expensive from a gallery. unfortunately, I think many photographers would shudder away from this. By the time you have printed and framed work – it won’t leave anything for the photographer at standard prices. I had two choices – keep prices down and make nothing or go premium. I chose the later knowing full well it was probably going to kill the chances of any sale. The general public just don’t appreciate the work that goes into a photograph and would far prefer to pay huge premiums for art instead.

Would I Exhibit at an Art Gallery Again?

Definitely, without hesitation. There is a huge level of personal satisfaction involved in seeing a room filled with only your work, properly printed, framed, hung and lit. It takes the images off a computer and brings them to life. I can only recommend that if you get a chance to Exhibit at an art gallery – go for it……

5 Minutes

“This mini-series is titled “5 Minutes”. It is a simple study of human elements dotted along the Irish coastline. Our coastline is a fluid & ever changing environment.  Even manmade elements change as time slowly takes hold of them.

I have focused heavily on man-made objects that are slowly and surely re-claimed by our shores who gently erode them day in, day out, year after year. Some of the objects are merely shells of what they started out as and don’t have long left, whilst others remain stubbornly intact (for now).

Straying away from conventional photographic techniques, I have spent 5 years developing a long exposure style that is sympathetic with the theme. Instead of presenting a split second capture, I offer a longer, slower view of the scene. Each work represents “5 minutes” in time.

Our eyes & brains are not designed to naturally perceive a scene presented in this manner. The resulting images are simple, calm, abstract & surreal. Positioning human elements as a seemingly solid anchor point, nature and time to simply pass by. The result is a set of serene images where waves are reduced to a fine milky mist & clouds form streaks across the sky as they are blown by the wind. The human elements appear steady and strong but their disintegration is clear to see as they sit there slowly crumbling.

Each piece has been crafted using specialised glass filters. These vastly reduce the amount of light entering the camera enabling me to keep the shutter mechanism open for 5 minutes at a time. Photographically speaking, “5 minutes” is an extremely long time in which a lot can happen. For our shorelines, it can be related to a drop in the ocean.

I have chosen to display 9 of my favourite pieces and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have in creating them……”

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2 Comments

  1. John mee June 27, 2017 at 7:38 pm #

    Nice article and a very cohesive set of images along with a great theme. Nice work … and tempting idea too. I had thought about it, and dismissed the “exhibition” idea previously. Now, I might revisit that idea.

  2. Euan June 28, 2017 at 8:07 am #

    A great article Graham – congratulations on the exhibition and the work is lovely. Did you sell any framed pieces on the wall or any additional prints?

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