Seeing your work exhibited has to be one of the greatest thrills available in photography. Liberated from the hard drive, your images come to life, and take on new meaning as they resonate with the other exhibited images. People actually come to see them, and contemplate them, in real time, and not just because they want you to visit their blog/photostream/FB page/twitter feed. Well hung, a collection of images becomes a body of work. And, let’s face it, exhibiting your own work is just plain cool.
Staging an exhibition is a huge undertaking, and not just in terms of the obvious challenges: deciding on your image criteria (theme, style etc), choosing your best images, getting them printed to an exhibition standard, mounting and framing and making an aesthetically pleasing hanging plan. Obviously, you have to find a venue. Then, depending on your venue, you have to think about publicity, stewardship and pricing (if your work is for sale). As that last point hints, it’s not a cheap project either. Just a little bit of research locally has led me to conclude that a solo exhibition is going to cost well into four figures. And the harsh reality is that most exhibiting photographers fail to sell enough prints even to begin to make a significant dent in all that investment.
Yet, this year I have had the pleasure of having images exhibited in three (soon to be four) prestigious exhibitions. Am I broke now? No, because last Autumn I joined The Shed Gallery. I was on holiday in Lyme Regis, on Dorset’s beautiful Jurassic Coast, when I came across an exhibition at The Malthouse. The images were all printed on aluminium, which gave the exhibition an edgy, current vibe, and worked well in the space. I also liked the way the photography mingled with original pieces of art, paintings and sculptures, giving an added layer of texture and interest. The exhibition was by The Shed Gallery, and I got chatting to one of its owners, Chelsea Davine, herself a talented artist and photographer. The Shed is an online gallery specialising in aluminium prints. There are plenty of ways of selling photography on-line but The Shed offers the added benefit of staging real exhibitions of selected works and also has hanging space in Chelsea’s Barcelona Gallery.
Since joining, I have had my work exhibited in London, Bristol and Lyme, and am delighted to be one of the featured photographers at a second exhibition in Lyme next month. I have more than recouped my membership fee in sales and I have had the pleasure of exhibiting without any of the effort or financial risk; Chelsea and her business partner Ben do all the work! In January, I attended the private view of The Shed’s Albion exhibition, at the Cock ‘n’ Bull Gallery under The Tramshed restaurant in trendy Shoreditch. I mingled with celebrities sipping champagne and actually looking at my work! I have also met, either online or in person, some very nice people, and enjoyed some inspirational images.
Sadly, I can’t attend the winter exhibition as I will be in Australia, but if you are in Dorset between 17th December and 6th January, do consider popping into our exhibition. And if you want to know more about The Shed, just pop over to the website and have a look round, visit The Shed’s blog, or feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.