Week Six – Surface and Strategies: Exhibition

Earlier this year I was fortunate to be commissioned to produce visual artwork as part of a project supporting bees in Cornwall. The opportunity provided a dedicated gallery space within the University of Exeter’s Environmental Science Institute building at the Penryn campus.

As a space it was a little uninspiring, but, once my images were hung on the walls, it leant itself to my work. Yet it wouldn’t have been the way I would have chosen to share my work if I was determining where it was to be seen.

I want my work to resonate with the place it is created. Practicalities may however get in the way. Choosing a site that reflects the image content could add a greater depth of understanding yet, at the same time, using a jarring venue may well jolt the senses and create more intrigue.

Having to consider how others may see my work, appreciate it or take something from it based on where it is seen should not take away from the essence of my intent. I create my work and if it is seen, or not, cannot reduce my authorship of it. It is my existence that brought it to fruition. My work has usually had a tactile element to it – much of my work I create within workshops with others and therefore it is not ‘mine’ but ‘ours’. Taking the work I make when alone and getting people to contribute to it is another story. Making work that encourages touch, a desire to look closer and decipher meaning on the viewers own terms provides a means for an unspoken contribution in experiencing my work.

This week we have considered ideas for our mini-exhibition to run from Aug 11 to 18. I have dithered from one idea to another.

Initially, I wanted to use my friend’s beach hut as my gallery as it is located on the beach where I make my work but it is unavailable the week needed. Then I thought about a number of friends’ restaurants on the beach and on the road down to it but it wasn’t quite grabbing me. Next, as my husband is on the local lifeboat crew I thought about asking the if I could use the boat hut to display work – our village RNLI day takes place on Aug 14 and includes a sandcastle comp, which I could have tied into my exhibition.

I have now decided to show my work at Hayle Heritage Centre. This is where I will also be holding this module’s workshop. This centre creates a link between my interest in historical processes and the passing of time, while its location within the Port of Hayle was awarded World Heritage status as part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site in 2006. In the nineteenth century, it was the world’s most important mining port and a centre for steam engine manufacturing. As sand plays such a huge role in the creation of many man-made items it sits well with my queries into the human impact on our environments.

There is also a local group I aim to contact that fought against the dredging of St Ives Bay in Hayle about seven years ago. It is aptly called Save Our Sands or sos-hayle. I plan to tie their story to my workshop and exhibition at Hayle Heritage Centre.

I didn’t get the opportunity to share my final plan with my tutor but she did say that my initials ideas were “really intriguing and innovative”, with the proposal that people could make a big sandcastle and share that on social media – so I may well be at the RNLI sandcastle competition after all.