I spent most of last week putting together my ‘Distinctly Different’ Exhibition, which is now running until Saturday 8th September at La Zaris Art Gallery, Thornton Heath, Croydon (do pop in if not seen it).
This involved forcing me to make a final decision on my choice of prints and hanging design. The board had been already chosen; Snow White. An off-white shade which broke up the image from the La Zaris white wall without clashing. The paper took more thought and a little experimentation, but in the end I decided to go with Permajet Portrait White. This is a none textured matte fine art paper that retained the fine detail I wanted and presented a reasonable depth of colour without having to resort to a more reflective lustre or gloss paper.
At my workshop I had put forward a more elaborate hanging system of one main image with hinged board supporting two additional images for each subject. While this wasn't negatively received by any of my workshop collaborators I decided in the end in the time scale available too likely to come out shoddily and in the context of the space at La Zaris might seem too cluttered and the basic message of the uniqueness of the twelve shopkeepers lost in the multiplicity of 36 images.
I decided to go the more traditional way and keep it simple, one large-ish image per collaborator. I did produce a hanging design before I set the exhibition up a few days before opening. But as soon as the first image went up I decided to change the design to that seen below. The four 1x1 format environmental portraits were placed symetrically on the outside of the main group. All of the other prints were 5x4 landscape crops. A board below titling the images and providing the address should any visitor with to see the shop themselves. the layout can be seen in the image below.
The TV set was set up to show a sequence of the videos taken of seven of my collaborators street and shop environment. This proved to be trickier than expected. I could only find one format, a DVD type, that the TV's USB slot could work with. While it's not showing the 1920x1080 HD at 50 fps that the video was shot with, it has proved good enough for my visitors to relate to.
I also produced a publicity leaflet which I printed using two sided matte Permajet paper that I had recently come across. A number of copies were handed out to my collaborators and the local library. I also used a pdf version for my website and various groups facebook pages and other forums. The effort spent on describing how to get there was worthwhile, even some Croydonians are unfamiliar with the part of Croydon La Zaris is situated in.
The leaflet was produced with Adobe's InDesign, An application I hadn't used before but who's virtues had been explained at the recent Falmouth University Photoshop course I'd taken and passed. It is indeed very good and given it's obvious complexity not too difficult to get beginner results with. At the moment I don't plan to stay with the full Adobe package that I'm currently subscribed to on their student rate. But, much depends on need as well as cost.
The opening was on a very summery Sunday evening, a day that did not encourage the number of visitors expected. With hindsight I'd give the following recomendations to myself in putting on a further exhibition:
Advertise at least two weeks earlier
Use personal invitations, don't rely on passive advertising
Avoid a weekend opening
Open for a shorter duration, it needs constant attendance.
Pick a more central/easier to get to location.
That said there were a number of pluses. Those that have seen the exhibition have all given quite positive feedback, and not all have been people I already now and am friends with.
It was a very good learning exercise.