Part four – Resolving and promoting your publication – The exhibition context

Creative and presentation decisions to complement my work in an exhibition space


Choice of paper for my prints:

I normally opt for standard C-Type matt or lustre finish prints for my portfolios but I thought that for my final publication something a bit more special was needed. My preferred photo lab offers various types of photographic papers and finishes. Some of the finishes available include glossy, metallic, pearl, lustre, matt and velvet. I’m not really a fan of glossy colour prints and metallic is a bit over the top so I had a few samples made using pearl, matt and velvet.

The new photographic paper called Fuji Velvet was amazing, I loved the quality and finish of it. I had a larger test print made and fell in love with it straight away! The smooth matt finish is ideal for exhibition prints as it has no reflections and does not show fingerprints either. It also has a luxurious velvety feel about it, lovely!  It was an easy decision to make. I had all my prints made using the Fuji Velvet paper and I am extremely happy with the results!


Presentation of exhibition and hanging tips:

I have never put on an exhibition before so I need to do a bit of research into the different options for hanging prints and the most effective way to present my art works. Below are some links to webpages and YouTube videos which hopefully will help to enlighten me.


A really useful video that explores the way that a curator makes creative and presentation decisions while hanging an exhibition in a gallery. He discusses the use of key pictures and making order from chaos as he finds spaces for particular art works. The importance of juxtaposition that can either enhance or detract from certain works was something useful to consider. The importance of lighting and how effective it is to show pictures at their best is something I will be considering carefully for my own exhibition.

Installation of Matisse’s Blue Nude’s in the Tate Gallery, London is discussed in this inspiring video. How the artists thinking evolved, which images are grouped together, which walls should be used, how are sculptures integrated and how is everything lit. So many things need to be considered carefully. The curator makes many creative decisions that can make a big difference to how a body of work is displayed and perceived by an audience. This video has made me think more carefully about all the possibility’s of showing my own photographs in a public space.


The exhibition context

Baldock Library, Hertfordshire

I have now made the decision after much consideration that my publication will take the form of an exhibition. I have had discussions with several venues including, St Albans Museum and Gallery, Baldock Arts Centre, Baldock Library, Amp Gallery in Peckham, a community hall in Letchworth  (very close to where I live) and several cafes and restaurants including Chegworth Valley in Notting Hill. I secured a space at Baldock library for an ‘exhibition’ in November 2019. Another possible venue, a querky cafe in Notting Hill has had to be abandoned. The location in Baldock is excellent although their are some strict rules about how I display my work. I have visited the library many times so I know it well and I know the type of people that visit it (the biggest advantage of the venue is a high footfall). The course notes has a list questions regarding potential venues for an exhibition and I will try to answer these below.

What is the relationship between the venue (spatially, architecturally, historically) and your photographic work?

Their is a historical link with my work that often explores historical battlefields in the English countryside and the town of baldock. The town itself was founded by the Knights Templar so that they could make money to fund the crusades. The taxes from the towns market would buy supplies and weapons for the soldiers.

Much of my work has been made the local rural area (sometimes on or near farmland) so I feel that my prints will fit in very well with the venue. The A1 motorway which is very near the town was built by the Romans who would have fought many battles with Celtic tribes in Hertfordshire.

What is the scale of the venue: how will your work physically fill the venue?

The library is relatively small but the open plan layout makes it feel more spacious. Although I can not use all the walls for my display, my prints will be on show in the most prominent parts of the library.

What services are available (electricity, running water, etc.)? How will the lighting of the space affect how your work appears in the space?

Electricity is available. Unfortunately their are no refreshments available in the library. The light is very good as many windows provide beautiful natural light in all parts of the venue. It has artificial lighting although I am not sure how effective the lights would be? Because of he serious nature of my work, subdued lighting could enhance the mood of my displayed prints.

Bigger isn’t always better: thoughtful use of a more intimate space can be more effective than installing in a more impressive venue for the sake of it.

The display space for my installation isn’t huge and could be described as being intimate. This I think will be an advantage as my prints will appear more prominently. It also means that I don’t have to make my prints too huge. Most of my prints will be  24″ x20″ in size.

Are there any particular architectural details, such as niches, alcoves, etc., that can be used to incorporate your work?

I don’t think so.

How can you manage the space and how the audience moves through it? Is there an order to how the work should be seen and how can you control this pattern?

I plan to show many of my large prints using a grid layout which allows for close comparison of the prints. I will also be showing some prints in a linear way. My work is sequenced by the date of the violent event. My exhibition could also be viewed in two parts, battlefields and murder sites. This is something I need to consider carefully.

Who is legally responsible for the space? Do you need public liability insurance in case anyone is injured at your exhibition?

The library had comprehensive insurance.

How accessible is the venue? How can you maximise audience footfall, for example by coinciding your show with another event, activity or festival?

The library is on the ground floor so it is very accessible for elderly and disabled people. There is also lots of parking outside and disabled parking spaces.

I could target people attending the library with flyers and in the local shops. I can also put flyers in the community centre across the road which has a lot of visitors.

How can you communicate the theories and ideas of your photographic work? Will you need signage or is the work self-explanatory? Are there other, subtler ways to help your audience understand what your work is about, such as juxtaposition of other things?

I will print my artists statement about the project as a large format mounted print and put this on an easel close to the installed works. I will also produce a handout with all the images and titles.
How attainable is the venue and how realistic are your ideas?

I have secured a slot for one week at the library. I believe all the ideas that I have discussed here are realistic and viable. I have already printed flyers for the exhibition. I have ordered several large test prints which I will take to the venue next week to see how they might look in the allocated space. I will be measuring the walls to workout exactly how many prints I can hang and I will make some recce photographs which can help me to visualise how my work will look once it is in place. Google Sketchup or Blender app could be used to help me visualise the space better.

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