In my usual jump-all-four-feet-in way, I neglected to ask important questions before setting out from home to put up my work in my allocated exhibition space at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. On second thoughts, that’s not entirely true.
I had thought about all sorts of things I might not have considered usually, and believed myself to be properly prepared. Unfortunately my planning had been for an imagined environment, not the space I found myself confronting.
Dismayed, I surveyed the large room that had been divided into four separate areas. My space was lined with dingy grey screens of indeterminate material, upon which my work was to be hung. I had known there were going to be “art screens”, but had neglected to ask the all important question: what exactly do these screens look like? And what are they made of? My imagination had pictured paintings hanging on pristine white backgrounds, with nails easily knocked in as required…
Luckily help arrived in the form of my husband, who was transporting the larger paintings in his van. He whipped me off to buy white sheets, hardware for easily putting nails into resistant surfaces, and a large cup of coffee and food for sustenance.
After that, it just took time and effort, and by the end of the afternoon my paintings were brightly hung and ready for viewers.
Which turned out to be the next hurdle.
This year, the venues had all been changed around. Few people seemed aware that art was on display in our venue, and even those who did know, struggled to find us in our big room at the back. However, with the imagination and collaboration of the group of artists sharing the space, we made a plan to make ourselves more visible, and soon had viewers finding their way through.
So now I know what to expect from an arts festival. Thank you everyone who visited my exhibition, whether you bought a painting, some cards or a print, paid me lovely compliments, or just granted me the gift of your time.
Will I be back next year?
Not to Grahamstown, but perhaps to Makhanda as it is now to be called!