Reflections on the Summer Exhibition

posted by Jacky Pett

This year’s Summer Exhibition was my first with the group, so I thought I’d reflect on it, giving entirely personal thoughts and impressions, plus a brief foray into the statistics.

visitors at my first stewarding session
visitors at my first stewarding session

My previous experience of local art exhibitions

The group I belonged to in the late 1990s held their own annual exhibition, in the church hall at the top of my road, where we also held our Friday night drop-ins. I probably didn’t see as much of the background work that went on, although I was involved in preparing the programme. Yes, each artist had to submit their titles to me in advance, together with a blurb about themselves, and I’d put the programme together. Then I’d produce a list and numbers for the paintings as they were handed in (on the Thursday night). It was a smaller event, and lasted Friday through Sunday, about a month before Christmas. I think we got the number of exhibits into three figures the third year I did this. Our chairman and founder organised most of it, and willing hands (mainly male) made the screens, which were draped in blue cloth before the hanging devices were added.

One of the best things was the work we put in together, but separately, on a mosaic of a well-known painting which hung in pride of place. We’d get a creditcard sized portion of a photocopy of a major work, and a piece of paper to reproduce it on, several sizes larger, in the way of our choosing. I wish I’d photographed these, as they were always amazing. I loved doing these: the Haywain, Breughel’s village scene, Hokusai’s Wave; I don’t remember the others.

It looked good, but not as good as the Chandlers Ford Art Group Exhibition!

An Ideal Location

The exhibition space at the Hillier Gardens is light, airy (airconditioned a little, I think), and accessible by all-comers. We probably reach far more people than by advertising ourselves, and it is the sort of audience who like pictures – and are used to seeing quality artworks.

The organisation is intense, and works brilliantly. Full marks to Roy Brophy, the committee, and all the helpers, and especially for Barry Fry who was trying to keep in retirement mode, but generously stepped out to manage the whole show.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is what makes the qualitative difference. I couldn’t really put my finger on what made the show even more professional than my earlier experiences. Maybe the venue with its sparkly lighting helps. The hanging frames are a step up in standard. The supports for the hanging picture on their D-rings makes for a really level presentation.

I think it’s partly the duration of the show that requires the more regimented approach. It has to work like clockwork, there are more artists displaying their creations, and naturally buyers want to take their purchases away on the day of purchase. I miss the little red dots against pictures showing they’ve been sold, but the opportunity to place fresh ones in their places is too good to miss. The red dots and labels were displayed by the side of the stewards table, in case you didn’t see them.

Artworks were rotated throughout the show, to ensure that everything got a chance in a possibly more visible location. And of course to accommodate the replacements for sold items.

Artist of the Day

What a wonderful invention to have the artist of the day. I loved this. I’m sure many of the visitors were surprised, but certainly enjoyed, seeing someone at work. It had side benefits, too.

One boy loved painting but didn’t want to point ‘the school way’ (my interpretation). He was delighted to find the artist of the day using toothbrushes and twigs to paint with. I think he’ll make his own mark on the art world in due course!

Another couple were admiring one artist’s work, but thinking it didn’t quite fit their decor. ‘Did they do it in any other colours?’ they asked. Thanks to seeing the artist concerned earlier in the day, I could tell them she did, and I think some sort of contact was going to be made. (I hope so, anyway)

Becks had these colourways, too

Facts and Figures

Thanks to Gill Brophy, members were treated to a daily update of incidents, artists, sales and photographs. These newsletters were a work of art in themselves, and Gill deserves an extra round of applause for producing them – often after a day at the exhibition herself- before midnight every day.

So we were entertained by the Arty trousers (which included skirts and shorts), as well as anecdotes. The photos of sold artworks added to the fun, since many of us will have seen them but not remembered their names.

  • 24 artists sold 34 framed, canvas or 3D works
  • 33 artists have sold a total of 828 single cards or packs
  • 14 artists have sold 25 browser items
  • Subject to omission or duplication, I think 46 artists had at least one sale.
  • 62 people submitted art for wall/table display; 27 submitted browser pieces, and 33 submitted cards, which means they all sold at least one card or pack!
  • I wonder if we gained any new members?

If (like me) you didn’t sell any of your submissions, do not despair. The quality was there, just not your buyer!

Art for fun or art to sell?

You may know I write books, and sometimes illustrate them. The writer’s dilemma is whether to write what the readers want or what you want to write. It’s the same with art, I think.

The happy event is when what you want to create matches what someone wants to purchase.

But without somewhere to show the world what you are doing, it’s hard to get the feedback.

So, I’m going to do more painting, and maybe more illustrations for my stories. And maybe create some cards for next year. It’s so easy to carry cards home!

photographs mainly by Roy and Gill Brophy, and myself