Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition is my first solo exhibition in Italy, which opened 5th January, in the stunning Palazzo Sersale in Cerisano, and runs until the 15th January.
Some background on exhibitions
Although I’ve been involved with group exhibitions since 2012, which are much easier to be a part of, my first solo exhibition was in Australia, back in 2014. I held my Image Earth Photographic Exhibition in the beautiful Cleveland Lighthouse Gallery venue, in Queensland.
As you can imagine, there is a lot more work and stress when you hold a solo exhibition, but the good part is that you have complete control over everything. So, anything that goes wrong is your own fault.
This solo exhibition is a little different as all I am required to do is select my images, submit these to the already selected printing company, then hang the images at the Palazzo Sersale. I did not see the physical printed photos until I was ready to hang them, which was quite stressful. As an artist, I lost complete control over this part of the exhibition, which for me is one of the most important aspects – quality of my work.
I think that for any artist, it’s quite daunting to hold an exhibition for the main reason that you’re putting your heart out there to be scrutinised, subjectively. And although I welcome constructive criticism as this helps me to improve my work exponentially, it still can be difficult to hear people’s opinions. I know of many artists that don’t like to take the next step of exhibiting their work, as it’s either too stressful or too painful.
I would love to hear from other artists out there as to how you cope when exhibiting.
In the beginning…
You may be asking how this exhibition in Italy came about? And I have to admit, it was purely from a chance meeting.
Leaving my business card for Erika to check out my work on Nilla’s Photography site, I also followed up with an email. A lot of interest was shown in my work, and the rest as they say, is history.
Initially, an exhibition at the castle for International Women’s Day in March 2017 was decided. As this didn’t happen, other dates throughout the year were thrown about, until the exhibition was incorporated with the winter Exit & Friends festival at Palazzo Sersale in Cerisano. And what a stunning space for my exhibition in this fourteenth-century gorgeous building!
I am very grateful to the Mayor of Cerisano: Lucio Di Gioia for this opportunity and support. Take a peek at this elegant venue (Video credit: hallo bunny)…
Allocated an area at the Palazzo Sersale, measuring up the space to later work out number of images and sizes that would best fit the space, is the easy part.
Choosing the size of images for a space, I like to use masking tape on my floor to mark out the actual size of the space with a couple of different photo sizes; especially if it’s a group exhibition, which typically restricts the size of a space.
As this is a solo exhibition and I have a lot more area, then all I need to do is work out the distance between images, physical sizes that best suits the space, and the number of images.
Selecting photographs – my hardest task
I find that selecting appropriate photographs for an exhibition is the very hardest thing that I struggle with; does anyone else have this problem?
I deliberate on what to select from the many thousands of photos that my external drive now holds, to suit the exhibition theme.
It’s a lot harder if the exhibition’s theme is quite liberal, although I still find it difficult selecting photos around a theme. I’m never sure what people want to see but as an elderly chap mentioned at this exhibition: “It’s up to you as an artist to select what you want people to see, not the other way around – it’s your work.” Is he right?
I want my audience to see and experience the emotion of what I saw and how I felt, whilst taking a particular photo in a particular place. This is also the reason why I do very minimal post-production. I want to retain the integrity of my image so that anyone that’s viewing the image knows that it is real and not just “created” with software, which happens too often these days.
Sadly, I feel that the art of Photography is morphing itself into the art of Digital Art, and the true meaning of photography is becoming extinct. I’m not adverse to digital art, but strongly believe that the artist should be honest and true to people and advise it’s digital art.
But I digress…
Of course, the size dictates the image to select for an exhibition. Especially as I also still take 35mm film photos. For this exhibition, I selected 24 digital and negative images, although I only needed 17 images.
For this exhibition, Piano B – Event Project Management organised the printing of my work.
As I’ve never had anything printed from Spot Channel in Rende, I was quite nervous as to the quality of printing. Let’s face it, there are both good and bad print labs. The images are to be printed on 60 cm x 90 cm Forex Foam Board and in Pearl (not gloss). The sharpness must be perfect.
Together with Cosimo from Spot Channel, we reduced the 24 images to 17 and decided that the photos scanned from negatives are not optimal quality for such an enlargement. Sadly, my negatives are back in Australia and at the time, the print lab in Australia did not scan the negatives at the highest quality.
With hanging of my work schedulled for the 3rd as the exhibition opening is on the 5th, I was pleasantly surprised when I first saw my photos from the print lab. Apart from a couple that are a tad on the dark side, the rest are of a good quality printing.
Another little stressful surprise was that on the actual day of hanging, I was advised that the upstairs measured room changed. The room would now be downstairs and in a much smaller room. Great! Not what I wanted to hear two days prior to the opening.
As the exhibition’s opening is a cultural evening and incorporates a book signing, much live music, cooking demonstrations, food and wine, all these events require housing in separate rooms. This was the main reason to change the upstairs room to downstairs, so that everything could be on the same level – makes sense.
After much deciding of where each event should take place, I was allocated one large room and two smaller rooms. Finally, we set to work and placed the images against the wall to where everyone thought were the best places.
Hanging everything took about a couple of hours.
Although the captions are printed on cardboard, they look quite tacky as the stone wall is impregnating through, and now resembles Braille. Also, the captions are only in English so no good to an Italian audience. I decided to reprint the captions on sticky labels, which are stuck to 3 mm Foamcore, and to also include Italian translation.
I had worked myself up into a bit of a state as I thought I would have to give a four-minute speech that I had prepared. I’m woeful at public speaking and really don’t enjoy standing up in front of a bunch of people. A couple of Gin & Tonics helped to calm my nerves before leaving for Cerisano.
Arriving earlier than the 17:00 hrs opening, the four of us quickly replaced the cardboard captions with the new Foamcore ones, which looked much more professional.
We waited, then waited some more…opening time came and went, and finally opening speeches came, over an hour late. What’s the hurry, this is Italy…
All in all, my speech was only a couple of lines thanking everyone for their support and coming along, by which time the alcohol had worn off and I was pretty nervous.
Mental note to self, I really should practise public speaking.
The Macaroni Chef was absorbed with such passion whilst making his Cavatelli with smoked Caciocavallo in a tomato sauce, topped with a reduced red wine sauce – delicious!
Just a little snippet of the scrumptious end result although he didn’t look pleased with this dish…
The exhibition’s finale
With excellent feedback on opening night, the exhibition ran for ten days and finished on the 15th January.
As Palazzo Sersale is only open from 10:00-12:00 hrs Monday-Friday, and by appointment on Saturdays and Sundays, I managed a couple of private viewings.
Exhibiting in Italy has been an interesting exercise and I know what not to do for my next exhibition here…think I will organise one for March/April this year, so, as they say, watch this space…