Life after the Degree Show seemed a little anti-climatic – catching up, or trying to, on all those jobs that fell by the wayside during the final weeks of the course. However, a couple of recent e-mails catapulted me into the realities of life as an artist. The first was from the Wirksworth Festival (Derbyshire) organisers wanting to include my work on the shortlist for the Graduate Exhibition at the Festival – I still am a little overwhelmed that ‘people’ like my work!! The second e-mail was from the ‘Discovery Days Festival at Derwent Valley’ organiser (Connecting Threads is being exhibited in the First Building at Cromford Mill during the Festival) wanting me to forward marketing information and images of my work for their Festival brochure. So far so good!! However, along with all the exciting stuff is the mundane; the inevitable Risk Assessment form and insurance details…
So this morning has been spent writing and adapting my artist’s statement for the Cromford Mill exhibition, selecting images and trying to organise site visits and installation dates. Although all this admin is a necessary evil I console myself with the thought that I only have to do it because my work is ACTUALLY being exhibited!
I am doing all this admin stuff crammed in our 3rd bedroom/study (the ‘not enough room to swing a cat round in’ sized study) surrounded by all the equipment for Connecting Threads – which runs into several crate loads. Oh to have a separate studio to work in…
And while I am contemplating all of the above, in the back of my mind is looming Results Day – Monday 1st July…
Well what a week it has been. The morning of the Private Viewing started with a phone call telling me that I had won second prize in the Enterprise Awards for Fine Art – I couldn’t believe it! I never usually win anything so as you can imagine I was more than a little shocked. The Private View was a big success – at times it seemed like there was hardly standing room, let alone elbow room! Everyone had worked so hard during installation week and their endeavours certainly paid off – the studios became an exhibition space to be proud of and everyone I spoke to commented on the quality of the Show.
After receiving my award from the Vice Chancellor, the rest of the evening whizzed by in a blur. It was only once the dust had settled and I was able to read some of the comments and watch some of the video footage from the video cam I had set up in my space to record visitor interaction that I appreciated the fact that people really liked my work. It was very noisy during the Private View and it was funny watching people suddenly realise, as they wandered through my space, that there was sound emanating from within the bobbins which made them pause and listen.
I didn’t think I would get emotional but when I read comments such as ‘A serious piece of work – stands out. Wonderful’ and ‘An incredible installation to experience…the colour and sound blew me away’ I must admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed that they were talking about MY work. The following comment especially made me feel that all the hard work, stress and, yes I will admit to tears, was all worthwhile – ‘I wish I could bring my mother-in-law to see this. She worked in the mills of Lancashire after the war and now has dementia – this would evoke lots of memories for her. Aesthetically it is very satisfying. Love it!’
Connecting Threads was also highlighted on the freshmeat gallery website in their review of the show under their news section. I find it a little surreal that two practising artists who run/curate their own gallery space find my work worthy of a mention – thank you!
Like all good things the time came to dismantle the installation – and as is usually the case, it came down a lot quicker than it went up. It was sad, not only was it the end of the exhibition, but also the end of my time at uni (provided I graduate of course). Would I do it all again? Was it worthwhile? Honestly, despite all the times when I cried, doubted myself, thought that I just couldn’t do it – to get comments and feedback like I have received this past week has meant the world to me. Looking back at what I have achieved I feel so proud to be able to say ‘I did it!’
Cromford Mill and the Discovery Days Festival in October – here I come!
After a very hard week last week I am pleased to announce that Connecting Threads is fully installed and operational! It was extremely tiring installing the work and there were a few times when I thought I had taken on a bit too much for the time we had – but long hours and persistence paid off. Getting the tower scaffold in was definitely worth it – it was much easier working from the platform than balancing precariously from a step ladder (and easier on my knees!). Once the steel work and cables were in place everything went relatively smoothly, if a little repetitively, until it came to checking the audio. Out of the 12 speakers 4 didn’t work when initially switched on – even though I had checked them at home. This meant a lot of back-tracking trying to isolate the problem which turned out to be faulty cables – note to self for the future ‘Don’t try to penny pinch on certain things!’ This resulted in a rather frantic Friday rather than the relatively calm one I had planned. However, putting all the stress of last week to one side, I am pleased with how the installation, with all the accompanying photographs, videos and maquettes, has turned out and feel it has achieved my initial concept.
The laser-cut mild steel sculpture was fixed to an external wall and has already begun to rust. I named it Obsolescence as these machines are now becoming obsolete in the industry apart from a few niche areas – and hopefully the fact that this piece is rusting will portray this.
Are there things I would change? Mmm…possibly, but more on the installation side rather than the conceptual or aesthetic side.
I can’t end this post without saying a huge thank you to the people who helped me bring Connecting Threads to life – Hayley and Victoria, thank you for all your help, advice and encouragement last week; all the technical staff again, many thanks for answering all my many questions and providing endless assistance. Finally, to the one person without whom the last six years wouldn’t have been possible – thank you for all the love and support you have given to help me achieve my dream!