How to curate an art show

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OK, It’s been a couple of days since the start of Beyond The Wilderness, and so the dust has settled somewhat.

We’ve started a Flickr pool of photos from the weeks activities here.

The workload in the run-up to any show’s opening is always stressful, and exhausting, resulting in late nights, arguments, and last-minute emergencies. That’s the nature of this job. If anyone else is reading this who sets up art shows, or has set one up for the first time, then take heart – it’s not just you.

It culminates in the opening night, which is when you have to be nice to people, when you have the least energy to do so. If you don’t sell any work, it can be very dis-heartening. But that’s life. Keep going. You need to do more of these, and eventually it will start to work for you.

I’m now in the eye if the storm. Everything is pretty much up and running. And needs very little to maintain the day-to-day running of the place. The SW1 Gallery has it’s own staff in the form of the lovely Heidi, so I don’t need to be there every day. And because this is a team effort, there are some wonderful people willing to sit in on the show every day, and be a smiling friendly face.

The bulk of the sales of work tends to happen on the opening night, so we’re now relying on a certain amount of passing trade, to sell more.

I have to say, that there is a great deal of satisfaction from just showing work, aside from any sales being made. If I could do it for free, I would. The opening night was a great success, in terms of the lovely comments I got from people about how good they thought my work was, and how impressive the show is as a whole. The other artists were honoured to be asked, and had a lot of fun inviting their friends, and being complimented on their work.

Aside from that, people get to stand in front of works and think new things, and go new places. As an artist you can have people listen to what you’re saying (in the form of art) with undivided attention. People get to have a new experience that you have provided. You get the chance to meet new people.. The list of benefits for you the creator, or you the viewer is endless.

Earlier, I said I was in the eye of the storm. The other end of the storm is the set-down next Friday (the day after the Cabaret). Basically its set-up in reverse, but a lot faster. We had 3 days to set up. We have 1 day to set down.

Set down is generally a lot faster anyway – you’re not hanging stuff on the wall, and carefully judging where it goes, lining it up, making sure it’s level, lighting it accurately etc. You’re just taking it off the wall, wrapping it, ripping the screws out of the wall, sanding, filling and painting the remaining holes, and taking home the works that you haven’t sold.

It’s also the saddest time, as the show that you have put your heart and soul into is at an end. Until next time.

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