Only two more days…

Art, Exhibition

Almost at the end of my first exhibition, the gallery is open for two more days before the take-down. So yesterday I took a car-load of wonderful women from Glastonbury for a few hours out in sunny Langport. Here are three of them having a laugh:

friends enjoying the exhibition

friends enjoying the exhibition

and Janetta couldn’t resist some purchases – tomato seedling, shiny happy pot and a print/collage – thank you for supporting me and the gallery!

Janetta's tomato seedling smile - plus shiny happy pot

Janetta’s tomato seedling smile – plus shiny happy pot

Donna placing another red dot - first print/collage sale

Donna placing another red dot – first print/collage sale

 

The plants have grown in the last two weeks, and are getting desperate for bigger pots.

I will bring the remaining seedlings home on Wednesday night and distribute them to friends and neighbours, hopefully with more smile photos.

I do hope people will send me pictures of their plants with flowers and fruit – that is the whole meaning of this artwork. The time factor, the growing and bearing fruit, the documentation of smiles.

Doing my small part to make our world a greener and happier place, and remind us all of what is worth living for in the midst of so much sorrow and pain.

 

Context

Art, Ceramics, Context, Exhibition

So what makes 42 tomato seedlings an Art Installation rather than a stall at a village fair?

The answer is intention and context. My intention was always to create Art, to be viewed and considered by an audience. Using living plants was always going to be slightly risky but was a vital part of the symbolism of this piece.

The disposable coffee cups they are growing in were collected by me every time I bought a tea or coffee when I was working in the studio. I knew I wanted to use these cups, but for a long time wasn’t sure how. The dimpled texture and bright colours appealed to me, along with the simple message enjoy with a smiley curve. They were stacking up on my windowsill over the months while I was dealing with my emotions around the illness and death of several friends.

pots stacked up and waiting for Spring

pots stacked up and waiting for Spring

In one of my moments of reverie staring out of the window the title came to me, Every Smile Bears Fruit, and I knew they would be perfect for growing seedlings. Tomatoes were the obvious choice, fast-growing and bearing edible fruit the same year.

seeds planted just after the equinox...

seeds planted just after the equinox…

The problem then was timing. I had to work backwards from the exhibition opening and work out when to plant the seeds. I settled on the day after the Spring Equinox, and very soon was delighting in the first little sprouts.

After two weeks I replanted any pots that weren’t showing seedlings, and watched with some trepidation as they all raced away – would they grow too much and all need re-potting before the exhibition? And watering became a regular part of my routine, along with turning and checking.

Tomato seedlings for 'Every Smile Bears Fruit' installation...

Tomato seedlings for ‘Every Smile Bears Fruit’ installation…

When it came to the exhibition set-up, I still wasn’t sure how I was going to display them, but I did know the area of the gallery I wanted to use. Donna and I struggled to move the heavy sideboard that was in that area, then I considered the options. In my original exhibition planning I’d specified shelves, but when it came to the day I decided that the floor was best. There are glass panels on the side of the stairs so the first view of the installation is at eye level.

Tomato seedlings 'Every smile Bears Fruit' installation

Tomato seedlings ‘Every smile Bears Fruit’ installation

I arranged the plants into curves, echoing the smiles on the cups, and mixing up the colours. The new green of the plants, and the smell they gave off, added to the whole ambience of the exhibition and delighted everyone who came to the Private View.

The final part of the Art context was my instruction that I wanted a photograph of everyone who bought a plant, holding it up and smiling, to go on the website as a record of the piece. These will be added to the Smile Project page on this site and I hope that people will send me photographic updates as their plants flower and fruit.

It is artwork with a temporal component, that needs visual documentation. It is continually changing and will eventually cease to be art. I am inspired by the Earth Art movement, artists such as Richard Long and Chris Drury, in which photographic documentation is often all that remains. Rather than using found natural materials or a repetitive action, I have used growing plants.

'Remember Love' Head pot, stoneware fired with local clay decoration; rosemary plant

‘Remember Love’ Head pot, stoneware fired with local clay decoration; rosemary plant

I think this may be an integral part of my future art practice. I planted up two of my head pots for this exhibition with plants that were meaningful and necessary to the titles (Pansy for Thoughtful and Rosemary for Remember Love); and my next exhibition piece for the Royal United Hospital project (Fusion July-October 2015) also features a planted head pot.

Watch this space.

Set Up & Private View

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

Phew! Yesterday was full, but in a good way. Starting at 6.45 am when I took my lodger to Wells to catch the early bus, and ending at 9.30 pm when I got home from the Private View and unloaded the car. At which point I discovered I was limping badly, my feet were swollen, and I hadn’t eaten anything more substantial than a few crisps for many hours.

But it was all worth it. Donna at the gallery was amazing, really helpful with the exhibition set up and making all the right encouraging remarks for a first-time artist (I wanted to write ‘exhibitionist’…)

A moment of magic while we were hanging the lino print/collages – a swallow flew into the room through the open window, swept round and straight out again.

One of my worries had been how to display the plants for the installation Every Smile Bears Fruit. I thought they should be arranged in smiley semi-circles, and to the right of the stairs. Once we’d moved the heavy sideboard and I looked at the space, I realised we didn’t need shelves as I’d originally planned. Straight onto the floorboards looked good, especially when coming up the stairs, looking through the glass panels.

Tomato seedlings 'Every smile Bears Fruit' installation

Tomato seedlings ‘Every smile Bears Fruit’ installation

Tomato seedlings, 'Every Smile Bears Fruit' installation

Tomato seedlings, ‘Every Smile Bears Fruit’ installation

Quite a few of these were sold during the evening, so the display needs to be moved around regularly to fill the gaps. And of course, they still need watering every three days or so!

When everything was ready to our satisfaction, the glasses were laid out and final facebook updates posted, I had a couple of hours to go home, shower, change into something more suitable for socialising with photographs, and come back again. I brought a friend from Glastonbury who helped slice and decorate the little scones (did I mention I made a batch of scones in the morning?) and the first people to arrive were my lovely pottery friends from Yeovil, Linda and Liz.

The evening was full of dear friends, some of whom had come a long way to be there (thank you Collette, Viv, Adam and Rose in particular). We had some impromptu singing from Oshia and Laura – Summer is a-coming in, Green Jack – and I was offered an exhibition in Glastonbury later in the year (thank you Paul of Blue Cedar – watch this space!)

Donna took the necessary photographs of everyone who bought a plant, smiling. They’ll be uploaded to the Smile Project page on this site during the week, and I look forward to news of the plants’ progress. And there are some red dots around the gallery already…

I’ll end this with the first photo of a seedling purchaser – this is Rohini, visiting from Australia where she now lives. Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate with me, and for all the positive feedback. Sorry I can’t mention everyone by name but I really appreciate the support. The show is on for two weeks now and I hope it gives pleasure to all who visit.

Rohini smile with tomato seedling - 'Every Smile Bears Fruit'

Rohini smile with tomato seedling – ‘Every Smile Bears Fruit’

 

 

Nearly there…

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

I’m pacing myself. Getting through the list of things I still need to do.

All the posters and invitations are delivered. I know that enough people are coming to celebrate the launch with me on Monday, and look forward to catching up with old friends and past tutors. It was good to see that the local paper published my press release without changing a word, and a nice big image too. Several people have mentioned it to me already.

Yesterday was busy – going to Yeovil to chase up the plinths i’m borrowing from college, for a start. I’ve had trouble reaching the tutor concerned, his email is broken and bounces messages back to me, and no-one was answering the phone. I finally tracked him down at the other campus and got permission to move the students’ work and take four plinths for a fortnight. Then called in to see my potter friend Linda (my back-up plinth provider) for a welcome cuppa.

At the garden centre I was still uncertain exactly which plants I wanted for the two head pots, and considered different titles and meanings for a while. A quick call by the printers for my business cards, and home to swot up on the words for a choir concert in the evening.

Today my daughter remembered to give me the laminated Artist Statement and Memoriam sheets before heading off to work, and I will enjoy myself planting up my pots, writing labels, and repainting plinths. The sun’s shining again, sparrows are chattering outside my window, and I’m not feeling as anxious as I’d expected to be. Maybe’s that’s tomorrow’s job, along with buying industrial quantities of wine and nibbles for the Private View?

Hope to see you there on Monday evening. If not, try and call by while the exhibition is on, please. And I’d love some comments on the work…

Next post will hopefully be photos of it all in situ.

Getting excited…

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition, Uncategorized

So yesterday I spent several hours framing my lino prints with mixed media additions, and going to the (local) printers to discuss my business card. Followed by the light relief of reading at a friend’s poetry book launch in Bristol. Yes, I got lost finding the place, but it was a lovely gathering once I found it (Susan Jane Sims of PoetrySpace launching A number of things you should know at Cafe Revival).

And today I’ve proofread and edited the business card; been in contact with Donna at the gallery and helped publicise the exhibition more; and written up a Price List for the artwork I’ll be showing in The Smile Project. It’s hard to price your own work, especially as an emerging artist. You want it to be affordable, but you also need to consider the hours of work involved. At this level, the price can’t really reflect the hours you’ve put in anyway. It’s a fine balance.

I’m waiting for a phone call about the loan of plinths that I was expecting to pick up tomorrow – there may be an issue here… fingers crossed!

And then I’m off for a two hour rehearsal for choir gigs on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. Ah, the life of a creative being! Sometimes it’s good…

 

The Poster

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

It’s been a difficult few weeks with my friend’s death and funeral arrangements to help with. Hard to focus on this at the same time, but finally I’ve got the poster out around town, and this morning I’m posting Private View invitations that can’t be hand-delivered. Big thanks to Donna at the gallery for all her help.

The tomato seedlings for Every Smile Bears Fruit need watering every other day and more space to grow. Now for planting up the head pots and framing the lino prints!

Next week will be very busy. Scared and excited all at once.

The smile project poster