After completing the catalogue I felt ready to talk again to Galleries about showing some of Jenny’s work. Katherine Richards, who was opening an exciting new Gallery in Hove, was enthusiastic about Jenny’s life and work, and chose 4 of the paper ‘flowers’ for her second show. It seemed a very good way to get experience of what exhibiting would mean in practical terms – it was 16 years since I had helped Jenny get ready for the last exhibition.
Just 4 works, three of which were already framed measured, photographed for this website, and described, seemed a very manageable task. Apart from getting them to Hove, there couldn’t be that much more to do? But like everything we have done as Art Executors we didn’t know what we didn’t know. So here are some lessons learned, which are a mixture of practical and emotional.
To deal with the practical first, three of the works were in London, one in Scotland, and all had to be united in London and then taken to Hove. The London works’ frames needed some rectifying and the glass replaced with non reflective ArtGlass. The one needing a new frame was in Scotland – to transport it safely we framed it apart from the glass and drove it the 600 or so miles down to London, having arranged for glass for all four to be delivered there. Katherine had asked for photographs of all of them in their frames, for a week before the show. These details were none of them much of a challenge singly but taken together meant a week of frantic chasing of glass, sourcing the right paint so the frame sides would match their backgrounds, and, once everything was ready, taking the photographs.
The main lesson from this was that works for exhibition have to be in perfect condition and making them perfect takes longer than you would think. Lesson 1: Estimate the timescale and then double it.
Another lesson was that the time I had put into making a catalogue of all the paper works was well worth it. Discussions at a distance ran the risk of being at cross purposes unless all parties (gallery owner, framer, photographer, art executor) had access to a document with the same information and images. Lesson number 2: I needed to complete catalogues for oils, and mobiles, in preparation for future exhibitions. I also learned that the original advice to photograph the paper works for the website out of their frames (which had been a pain to do at the time) had been entirely correct as even with non reflective glass the size of the sides of the boxes threw a shadow however the lights were placed (see image above) and in the end we abandoned the attempt. Lesson number 3: leave photography to the Gallery.
The emotional side came as a surprise. I had expected to feel delighted that a Gallery owner was sufficiently interested in the works to risk putting a relatively unknown artist into a show in a new Gallery. Instead I felt anxious and slightly defensive. It is much the feeling you have when your children go to school for the first time: seeing them exposed to expert scrutiny, and the worry that no one will like them. I was glad there were only 4 works to be worried about and learned Lesson 4: to exhibit you have to let go.