Roots opening, overall, went well and as planned. Getting the work arranged in the space was a relatively easy, pain-free experience, as I had a really good time working with the other three students exhibiting. I think their work was of a high standard, and I was proud to exhibit with them. They all did their work justice, and we put on, what I'm told, was quite a slick show.
In retrospect though, I'm not convinced I felt totally proud of what I produced for the Corke gallery. The 15 framed works I had worked well as a unit, but I thought they felt unnatural and out of place on the stark, white Corke gallery walls. I was assured by Nic Corke that the display wall would be painted and the pictures straightened, so when I arrived on the opening night to find that there were still pencil marks on the walls and all the pictures were at angles, I felt quite let down. Nic, in fairness though, wouldn't have done this due to neglect or dishonesty - he showed a real enthusiasm and interest in working with us, and I liked working with him. The fact that my pictures jarred in the space, I think, had more to do with my expectations of them, and was an issue to do with own artistic discretion. The lighting and atmosphere was something that I should have made it my business to think about before I put the works in there, and I think I was complacent in thinking that they would work in that context.
My envelope wall was popular but I felt I copped out by taking money from people for them. Charging £2 seemed nominal in the abstract, but when it came time to actually take the money I just felt a real sense of guilt. Seeing the money pile up in a jar just seemed obscene to me, and if I had to change one thing about the show, I'd have made the envelopes free from the start. One feedback that I've got from people is that they've pinned their envelopes up on pinboards or on fridges, and I like that idea a lot more than I like the idea of having had my works on some walls for a period of time.
I think I learnt a lot about my real value as an art practitioner through Roots. I don't disbelieve in the concept of a white gallery wall, but I do think that my work demands a context beyond that to really be at its best. Putting my work on the walls felt a bit like a perfunctory, shallow decision, and if I'm honest, I didn't put a great deal of thought into how it would all look in situ. If I was to display again in the future, I'd think more laterally in how to best put across a sense of myself in how I present paintings and drawings to an audience or viewer.