Following a call for artworks that I came across I was invited to exhibit my work as a part of a local exhibition a couple of weeks ago. I received an clearly written, and relatively articulate, email at 16:25 on a Sunday afternoon notifying me of my selection which stated that I needed to respond by midnight, meet at the exhibition space at 2.00pm the following day and be ready to hang my work on the Tuesday.
I had been off , taking some time out, enjoying some hedonistic adventures across the river over the weekend in question and I arrived home at about 11:00pm on the Sunday; just in time to respond to the exhibition organisers email. In my reply I stated that the 2:00pm meeting was somewhat problematic for me as I already had meetings scheduled and asked if there was any other time, earlier or later, that I could come and meet them to have a look at the space. The following text is the response I received copied in it’s entirety:
“3 o’clock at the very latest – it closes quite early and I have to be at a meeting later on.”
I replied and reiterated the problem I had with the small window of opportunity that was to be given to look at the space at such short notice. Again I have copied the organisers response in it’s entirety without any cropping or editing:
“? You need to come see your space, bring your work 2moro”
It was at this point I felt it was in my best interest to withdraw myself from any further involvement in this exhibition. I did so with a clearly written email and wished the organiser all the best with the project.
Now I have no problem getting myself into gear for such projects at short notice like this, but I would have expected more flexibility from those involved, especially when considering that the organisers acknowledged some the difficulties with their demands in the initial email they sent. However, it is clear from the first reply I received (above) that they were not willing to show the same flexibility that they were requesting from the artists that they had invited to exhibit. What’s even more frustrating about this whole situation is that I had emailed them a week or so earlier and asked them for some further information about the project. I didn’t receive a reply.
It was this lack of communication and professional conduct that led me to withdraw from the project. Having resisted the urge to write an angry ranting blog post in the hours following this situation I have had the time to reflect upon events. I can appreciate that the intentions in organising this exhibition were all good. However, I do not want to involve myself in projects that I feel may have a detrimental affect on my reputation as an artist. If the levels of professionalism that were displayed in these initial correspondences were an indication of the way in which this project was to be executed then it was clear that it was not the sort of project that I wanted to be involved with. I’m not of the opinion that any opportunity to exhibit my work is a good opportunity.
Unfortunately this approach to organising local exhibitions seems to be becoming more common place. At least that is my experience of the situation. Many of these exhibitions appear to be organised by young artists/recent graduates and so I am a little uncomfortable in criticising their efforts as their enthusiasm is admirable.
To any passionate young artists/curators who stumble across this grumbling little post can I just ask that you conduct yourself in a professional manner, take the time to step back from your plans, just for a moment, to ensure that you’re executing the project to the highest possible standard. High professional standards, or lack thereof, will be reflected in the final outcomes of your projects. Ultimately they will reflect upon you, and those artists participating in your exhibitions and the impact could be lasting.
*Front Post Image: Contemplation -Art Critic by Steve Greaves