This is a new stage for me. I’ve got 3 of my paintings hanging in Gallery 150 in Leamington, and have been to my first ever private view. Imagine you are 6 years old, and have had your picture chosen to go on the classroom wall for parent’s evening. That’s my feeling about it, but my fellow exhibitors seem to be more grown up, weary even; I suspect that this is a fleeting excitement, so I’m making the most of it.
They pictures look different in the gallery. In my ‘art room’ they were the only paintings in an unruly landscape of clutter, whereas in the gallery they are surrounded by others, and have to hold their ground in the exhibition as a whole. So it seems that just like people, paintings are shaped by their context! The transformation that takes place when someone I have worked with in one-to-one therapy joins a group is always surprising, even though by now I know it is inevitable. I see them in a different light, and discover new angles and perspectives which hopefully they appreciate also. I hadn’t paid attention to the analogous process going on in galleries and exhibitions.
In fact, I’ve never given much thought at all to ‘curating’ until now, when I discover that there is a whole academic discipline complete with MSc’s and PhD’s, international organisations, research and so forth! Once you walk through the door labelled ‘sketching’ you discover its Tardis- like qualities. It leads into drawing, painting, sculpture, galleries, artists’ societies, workshops, courses, curating ….There is a whole universe, fully inhabited and busily working away, which existed outside of my awareness. I find that both exciting and daunting – it’s easy to assume that you know your environment, when in fact what you know is only the smallest fraction of what is going on!
Here comes the link again with group therapy. What you know is only the smallest part of a very complex environment. New group facilitators say to me ‘I can’t understand what is going on in the group ’, expecting me to have sussed it out – after all, I’ve been running groups for SO long!
I do spend a lot of energy ‘trying to understand’. There is both the process of trying to ‘fit the pieces’ together, and of discovering pieces that you never knew existed. That’s the free associative, imaginative type of understanding that I find can be so rich and rewarding. However, the most important thing to understand is that the ideas we have are always limited and partial. There is always more.
These are small, 9″ x 12″ acrylic paintings, titled ‘LEAVING’ and numbered 1-3 in an arbitrary sequence. Arrange them as you will, and create your own stories around them!
I wonder about the transition from the privacy of the ‘art room’ at home to the public exposure of a gallery. The paintings seem different in a new space – are the feelings about the work that went into them also different? The person who’s been giving the photography course I’ve been attending is offering a ‘next step’ of more personalised, self-directed learning experience, leading to an exhibition (also in Leamington) in the autumn. At the moment, my photography is a very private activity, very introverted. I post some images on a blog and I give that URL to some people . . . but a public exhibition feels very exposing (like a group is more exposing than one-to-one, whether friendly conversations or therapy). Part of my now-being-retired experience (after 40 years of teaching/facilitating, in one form or anther) is a total inner refusal to ‘perform’ . . . what kind of performance, I wonder, is exhibiting in a gallery?