I have been battling to reduce the word count of SYP assignment 5 which is a reflection on how I publicised my work. I decided I would approach the task differently by treating it as a normal exhibition review.

With all the headings and quotations, it comes to 587 words and it is all I really want to say about it. Why does the essay have to take me 2299 words over 19 pages? The answer is quite simple: the assignment is not an exhibition review. I have to defend and justify what I did, how I did it and why; it’s about how I resolved the issues raised at the assessment of my body of work. And that all takes words. There, now I feel better about it! I still need to lose 300 words!

Review template informed exhibition review

Name: One Year 

Date: 1st– 12thJuly 2019

Venue: Cells, Devonport Guild Hall, Plymouth

Exhibition: One Year; Solo: Anna Goodchild.  

Attendance: 170 physically in the space.   200+ online.

Curator:  Anna Goodchild

Location setting and atmosphere

  • Excellent location & setting: a Victorian holding cells complex.  
  • Atmosphere: apt for an exhibition on UK prisons and prisoner identity. 
  • My wish:  I wish the trunking, pipe work, the random, heavy furniture which took up so much floor in an already small space had not been there.

Example of work:

Highlights:

  • The numbers attending in person and online.
  • The number and quality of reflections in the book.
  • The positive nature of the reflections indicating that people took their time and saw the different strands of the exhibition coming together.
  • Super reviews.
  • The technology worked, after many mountains to climb.
  • Collaborating with musician Deborah Johnson. 
  • Request to collaborate on an art project in January 2020.
  • The book worked so well & was well received.
  • The cell reconstruction was very well used.
  • The drapes were effective, dramatic and introduced an element of femininity.
  • The botanicals worked effectively in demarcating the seasons and in linking to the letters being read.
  • The botanicals in the book cover window brought the drama, the letters and the place together.
  • The quilt stimulated discussion.
  • The exhibition caused people to think about their prejudices.
  • I loved talking to the visitors about the work.
  • I was surprised at how many professionals – social workers, lawyers, magistrates, professional artists & photographers – came to see the work.
  • I was surprised at the number of re-visits and referrals.
  • Many visitors, old and young, liked to close the cell door to sit and listen to the readings and absorb the nature of the enclosed pace and then commented on how much they take their freedom for granted.
  • Comments like ”It’s very peaceful in here” and “It’s strange – you just don’t know this goes on in prisons.”

What I took away with me about the work:

  • The ‘broadcasting’ of the recorded letters worked in uniting the letters to the outcome possibly because, through the passive listening, the viewers could access the reading of the book, the tiles and the images. 
  • The many layers, instead of causing confusion, helped the visitors to take in the exhibition as a whole instead of seeing it as a lot of disparate elements.
  • What helped most, I think, was the division of the material into three separate spaces, united by the recorded readings, and the visitors could take the information in a bit at a time.
  • The viewers appreciated all the different elements. There was no single discordant voice which isolated an element as irrelevant, misleading or superfluous.

What I took away with me about me:

  • I loved talking to the visitors.
  • I was interested to see where they came from and how they approached the work.
  • I loved curating the work over its 12 months’ gestation.
  • I loved the help I received from various people involved in putting the exhibition together and up.
  • I loved getting all the positive feedback.
  • I am glad the reflections book worked – people wanted to write essays!

Notes:

  • Heterotopia in 3D = success in making the work gel.
  • Derrida’s comment about a ‘singular witness’ in photography is great.
  • Anna Boghiguian and Edmund Clark’s work are the singular most powerful influences in the curation of this exhibition.
  • Obrist’s comment about the function of an exhibition = not to illustrate what an exhibition is about but to create a new reality, was a powerful motivator in doing what I did.

The over-worded assignment should come out tomorrow!

6 thoughts on “My review of my solo exhibition

  1. You have summed up the exhibition well. It is a great achievement and I hope it leads on to other things. I am interested in your comment re the types of jobs some of the visitors had and how it relates to your work. This has given me pause for thought.

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    1. Thanks, Hazel. I too was unprepared for the range of professional people who came to see the show. I didn’t ask for the info, it came out in conversation, mostly because people were explaining their interest in the subject of the exhibition.

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  2. When I considered the exhibition as a whole I thought it looked more like a collaboration project rather than just one artist. A collaboration with your multiple artistic selfs. The depth and breadth of the work has to be celebrated as the accumulation of your degree and I hope your essay celebrates your success, don’t be shy in your response.

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    1. Lovely image & thought that I had collaborated with my other selves!! Thanks for your very kind words and observations – it was a lot of work but one which developed gradually – one thing led to another & I was fortunate that the venue was what it was because it allowed me to do things I would not otherwise have been able to do. I love curating anyway – as you may have gathered! See you soon, Karen.

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