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  • Writer's pictureBarMade Bags

Preparing for my first exhibition

EEK! In little more than a week's time, I'll be setting up my first exhibition and I'm in danger of feeling seriously out of my depth! Yes, I've been selling bags for about 8 years now and, during that time, I've set up plenty of stalls at craft fairs and markets, but this is something different.

For two weeks, I'll be exhibiting my artwork and a selection of my bags in The Little Gallery at the back of the recently-opened Derbyshire Makers' shop in Peak Village at Rowsley. This shop is a treasure trove of beautifully hand-crafted items and stunning artwork, all made in Derbyshire by members of the group. At the back of the shop, there's a separate, small room that has a rolling programme of different artists having sola exhibitions of their work, and I'm one of them.

A little gallery with a selection of framed pictures on the facing wall of a small room with more standing on a table in the corner.
The Little Gallery

Of course I had to do a recce of the shop and the Little Gallery, and was full of admiration for the current exhibition there by Louise Janetta, a talented Derbyshire artist. Her framed pictures covered all three walls of the small room, as well as a couple of tables, with prints of her work in a separate rack.

I made notes, but came away with a bad feeling of Imposter Syndrome. After all, I'm a self-taught textile artist with just four completed pieces to display along with a few bags that I would classify as being exhibition-worthy.

For a craft market, I have lots of items to appeal to a wide range of potential customers - pencil cases, coin purses, glasses cases, tote bags, as well as my top-of -the-range bags. And while I make everything to a high standard, not all are what I'm wanting to showcase alongside my artistic fabric collages. Deciding which of my bags I'll be exhibiting, and, hopefully, selling, is part of my preparation, along with deciding how best to show them.

My preparation for this exhibition started with getting my main piece, "Crooked Spire at Night" professionally mounted by Brampton Framers. I decided not to also have a frame made for it, because I think that choice of frame can be a very personal thing and wanted to leave that choice to whoever buys it. I am beginning to wonder, though, whether that was the right decision, but it's too late to go back on it!

A further preparation was to have my three completed pieces professionally photographed and printed by Jonathan Amos so that I can offer prints of these pieces. The prints are stunning and I bought high quality mounts for them and mounted these myself.

I've also taught myself to stretch mount my pieces onto mountboard so that with the third and my recently completed small fourth work I could mount and frame them myself.

These last two that I've made are the start of a series that are based on photos that I have taken on walks near my home in Holymoorside. I had hoped to make a third one in this series but I doubt whether I would get it completed in time for the exhibition. These are very time-consuming to make, as you'll realise if you have read my blog about the processes involved. In anticipation, though, I need to make sure I have the right size mount and frame so that I can quickly get it ready for displaying if that turns out to be possible.

I have also ordered greetings cards of some of my designs, on the basis that often those who like an artist's work but don't need a large piece for their wall, will buy #justacard.

I'm thinking about including some of my other acrylic and watercolour artwork, but need to convince myself that they're good enough to display and that they won't look out of place with the rest. If I do include them, some will need framing and all will need ways of hanging them.

I've written a short introduction to my work and I'm preparing labels with the price for each item on them. I must check on my business cards to make sure that I have plenty.

What else do I need? So many thoughts spinning around in my head, so much that I'm unsure about, lots to consult with Sharon from The Derbyshire Makers over, and not long to go ...

My exhibition in the Little Gallery at Peak Village in Rowsley will run from 20th May to 3rd June.

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