Monday, September 16, 2013


 Here Comes The Bride Installation DETAIL
Exhibition at Soapbox Gallery, Brisbane 2003 

Well, there are many ways putting on a show could be interpreted...having a tantrum, making a spectacle of oneself, producing a play or musical, performing at a concert, being a stand up comic, making a faux pas and so on.

But... I am thinking about an exhibition of paintings as putting on a show. And, as regular readers know, I am about to do this in October [2013] here in Brisbane.


Cosmic Address Oil on linen 90 x 180 cm 2013

COSMIC ADDRESS will be my 23rd [or thereabouts] solo exhibition since 1989. However, I held my first solo exhibition at the end of my senior year at school in 1977, so I've actually lost count of the exhibitions I've had. I sold my first painting at the grand old age of 14! It was at the local Dalby Art Group annual exhibition...yes, a grown up show too. The solo show in 1977 was in Toowoomba after I won a prize and met Queen Elizabeth II. You can read about it HERE

Me meeting Queen Elisabeth 11 at Government House, Brisbane early 1977

But, I'll let you into a secret, Putting on a show ie: having an exhibition of paintings... actually entails performance, production, making a spectacle of oneself and even...sometimes...potentially having a tantrum! Oh and don't forget making the odd faux pas and sometimes needing to be a stand up comic...or feeling like one!

You is really hard work to put on a show of paintings. Especially if an artist represents him/herself, like I do. I hasten to add that if the right dealer came along I'd be very happy for him/her to take over the providoring, production, marketing, sales and more that goes into mounting an exhibition. I am sure we would be a great and awesome team! I know successful art dealers work very, very hard.

Video of my Paradise exhibition at Purgatory Artspace in Melbourne 2011

So what does putting on a show of paintings entail?
  • Well, I have to paint the paintings. This takes about 12 - 24 months to have around the 15 - 22 new oil on linen and work on paper paintings I am happy to exhibit.
  • But, before the painting starts I need to order my stretched linens....I don't order them all at once...that's too costly. Fortunately paintings do sell, often out-of-the-blue! And, then I order some new stretchers...nup no overseas trips with the proceeds!...I get a trip out of smelling, feeling and looking at new blank canvases. What did I say about being a comic?
  • The exhibition is normally booked at least 12 months prior to the actual show. In my case, for the last 3 exhibitions in Brisbane, I have exhibited at a rental gallery:

    Graydon Gallery,
    29 Merthyr Rd,
    New Farm,
    The Universe [if not the Multiverse].

    I've noted the gallery's lengthy cosmic address for you...because my next show is called COSMIC ADDRESS. If an artist is represented by a dealer the same timeframe is normally also applicable.
  • Then there's the business insurance, marketing, PR, preparation of and sending press releases, designing invitations and getting hard copies printed, putting them into envelopes and addressing them....keeping the mailing list up to date...also emailing invitations...working out how to send follow-up polite reminders [I am going to use Mailchimp for COSMIC ADDRESS]. The initial email invitation will be sent, individually to the majority of people on my database, with a personalised message. This takes time and I am pleased to say that after three full days of work last week all the email invitations are in my draft folder ready to be sent about 3 weeks before COSMIC ADDRESS
  • AND, the social media to augment all of the above. I use a lot!

Me outside my Distance exhibition in London 2002
Yes, I've put on a shows overseas too. London, Dubai and Abu Dhabi
  • Labelling, pricing the paintings, wrapping them and stacking them into my trusty 22 yr old Volvo station wagon...yes I provide my own freight service.
  • This next part is FUN, FUN, FUN....working out where the paintings will hang. But, not quite so much fun...actually hanging them. Up and down a ladder, sometimes for hours. Then labelling the paintings with already prepared labels. And, compiling a numbered and priced catalogue list to have duplicates for the duration for the exhibition. The show needs to be documented with photographs and videos too. This can be done using a professional photographer, but if cost is an issue....then it's the artist. I normally do my own.
  • During my exhibitions I usually have a couple of events apart from the Opening Night eg: artist's talk with morning tea. Yes, that's right, add event organiser to the list of skills! This entails providing alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, ice, glasses, table cloths for trestle tables, sometimes food, wait staff...and most importantly, especially on Opening Night when I often have 60 - 100 people, I need key people armed with red dots to indicate SOLD paintings. Also, on Opening Night I have a friend who notes buyers' details, issues invoices/receipts and pick-up instructions. During the exhibition the latter is my job because I sit with the show each day. My children are roped in for various jobs too.

    And, after the events there's the cleaning and dismantling trestle tables etc...etc The children are not so keen on this part!
  • At the end of the exhibition paintings that have been bought need to be bubble wrapped ready for their buyers to collect or I deliver...yes I offer a delivery service too [only local though]! Unsold paintings also need to be wrapped and stacked into my trusty old Volvo. The gallery must be cleaned and left pristine for the next artist to occupy.
  • Once home, there's the unpacking of the car, storage of paintings, following up buyers or people who expressed an interest.

  • And...exhaustion settles in! It's not only physical, but also emotional and mental. For an artist, an exhibition is a rare opportunity for people to see their work in the flesh. We are, in fact, putting on a spectacle for public review and consumption, a unique and special event, where we reveal a lot about ourselves, our thoughts and beliefs. Whilst fulfilling, it can also be a raw experience where issues of  artistic integrity and revelation are placed beside very real worries about financial and critical success.    

    We don't have a permanent shop front and the virtual 'shop front' of a website is not the same as a gallery exhibition. We want people to see our work....if they buy, well and good...but we want people to enjoy, discuss and talk about our work too. You just never know who you may inspire to come and have a look...and then they buy because a painting has made their heart sing...and that's the best reason to buy!
  • Have I had a tantrum when putting on a show? Well, whilst there have been a few hurdles over the years, I've not succumbed to tantrums. The show must go on and tantrums don't get the work done! I will admit to sleepless nights though!

Braid Oil on board 2007
[Self portrait]
Is my next solo exhibition
in Brisbane
15-27 October
Please check out  my
for all the details!
I have added some more images in the last week.


The finalists can be seen by clicking HERE
Congratulations to Jun Chen for his winning work Brisbane River
and Highly Commended to the collaborative work by
Imants Tillers and Michael Nelson Jaggamara
and commended to both
Mostyn Bramley-Moore and Rachel Ellis
The exhibition of finalists will be on public view at
Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle St, Brisbane
9 - 20 September
Open weekdays 7 am - 6 pm
Enquiry and Sales Desk open 11 am - 3 pm

My next solo exhibition is 2 - 14 September 2014
At Graydon Gallery again
Have not give it a title yet!
Countdown has begun! 

No comments: