Because of the long bank holiday weekend we couldn’t get into the gallery until Tuesday. It was agreed that Tuesday and Wednesday were hanging days and Thursday was a contingency day. With this in mind I asked Craig exactly what he wanted done; he had other degree shows to help with so we needed to use him wisely and efficiently. I received an email and shared its contents with the group.
My urge to get work into the gallery was met with a great deal of people not ready. I expected there to be one or two people who would not be, but for almost half the group, I felt a bit embarrassed for Craig. Regardless, we had a deadline so we had to work with what we had got.
Matt suggested we had a mid height for the work, which we worked out to be 62′ so that short, medium and tall people could enjoy the work suitably. This meant that all the work would be at the same level so there would be a continuity throughout the gallery. Meanwhile, I left the gallery to hang the posters in the shop fronts. When I came back we found that work was going up at the wrong height. I soon found out that the curation team had to hover around people putting up work because otherwise it wouldn’t be at the right height, or perhaps without the right margins to the people’s work directly next to them. This meant that although four people’s work was put up in the back wall area; it looked (quite frankly) awful. This was due to poor spacing, different frame heights and work being different to what we had expected. The issue with the back wall was that everything was framed apart from Chris’s, which we also expected to be a lot bigger with his provided diagram. I felt extremely gutted and deflated that this was even happening; had more people brought their work in on Wednesday we would have been able to have leant the work against the walls to work out whether everything was in the right place to be hung. It seemed like we spent a lot of time taking work down and adjusting and/or moving it.
Like the first day of hanging, the second didn’t get off to the speediest of starts either with no work being hung in the morning. As this was the case, Melissa and I went to town to buy some much needed materials: headphone splitters, hooks for headphones and chalk. This day was supposed to be our final day of hanging and yet, in the end, two of the works were put up on the exhibition opening day itself. I had felt even less enthusiastic about the exhibition at this point with feeling like there was not much progress. I did however, help Melissa Santos get her work on the wall, rearranging it so that there was a flow to the work.
On Thursday we held a pretty urgent curation meeting. Chris’s work had to move; it was causing visual disturbance on the wall; on another wall there was Theo’s work, but on the reverse there were three works bunched together. We decided that Joseph should swap with Chris and Caroline to move next to Theo. We thought that the walls would look much more balanced this way. On Thursday morning I spent two hours running and driving around Coventry: to B&Q for leather shammies and cleaning products; more headphone splitters and electrical tape for Melissa.
Things went from bad to worse on Thursday; I had designed and ordered two poster prints to go inside the exhibition with the logo and information about the group. It was expected to arrive on Thursday, yet we discovered it was a failed order. However, I was no alerted of this and our money had already been taken. Trying to keep a cool head I rang Joanna from the Print Bureau to see if she could possibly squeeze us in an order. She could. I felt ecstatic!! Already we had so many issues waiting for the vinyls to arrive (which Melissa and Alex had to go pick up themselves) and after this, it was nice to know that a reliable service was going to get us what we actually wanted!
By the end of Thursday almost all of the work was up and I did feel a little less anxious about everything. We were still behind schedule still however.
Friday. The big day had arrived and we were not ready! I arrived around 9am to find that very few people were there. Trying to keep it cool I thought it best I started to clean up a little; brushed up the floor, moved tools etc to one place etc. I also used window cleaner and a shammy to get the dirt off people’s Macs and glass; this meant that they would just need dusting before we opened. Now that the vinyl had arrived, Matt, Alex Edwards and I began to put it up. I helped start the process but it soon became that we didn’t need four pairs of hands to do the job, so I returned to cleaning. Ioana then reminded me of the text panels. Together we thought that we perhaps should have a height, like the prints, for the text panels to sit on. Unsure, we asked Matt for his thoughts and he suggests he panels were much too low so we moved them up and in line with the frame edge. We put up a few panels ourselves, but we then decided we would tell everyone what we expected for them to do it themselves.
Alex Mason and I received the posters from Joanna at the Print Bureau and we stuck them up on the wall with masking tape: the white of the paper was much whiter than the paint on the walls so we thought to have a ‘rustic’ job of putting it up so that it sort of disguised how strange it looked.
I couldn’t believe it when I realised that I hadn’t actually finished my own work properly; with worrying too much about everything else I forgot about my MP3s. In a panic I got them sorted; however, I was disturbed a lot with people asking questions about text panels, this and that (I can’t really remember now!). There were still two tables in the middle of the gallery laden with laptops and bags. We couldn’t sweep the floor until this was moved to I got everyone to move their bags to near the door.
Suddenly, the gallery looked like a gallery.
Exhausted is a word that doesn’t come close to how I felt on Friday afternoon. After mental and physical endurance over the last four days I was ready for bed more than anything. But the opening night came around and it was such a pleasant affair. Not forgetting that the programmes arrived after we opened and we had to make a quick dash to get them folded. But still, we had over 200 people (at least!) come through the door to enjoy our hard work. I somehow didn’t feel as happy as I thought, but I think that was a mixture of emotions (especially the realisation that this was the beginning of the end of my degree).]