The Exhibit

18 months ago I was invited to exhibit at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. It’s been a massive 2 weeks for me, working up to ‘Great Britain’s Graveyard of the Atlantic’ which opened on Thursday 5th April. And it’s not been plain sailing at all. The exhibition prints were made within the State and this foresight for possible problems paid off. We arrived in Manteo, the Dare County seat and home of the Aquarium late on 22nd March and the very next day opened the package containing the exhibition mounted giclee prints.

After very little time I started to notice strange marks in the highlight areas of the prints and it was all too obvious that the prints, packaged face-to-face, had migrated some of their rich dark areas onto the light areas of their facing images. There were other odd finger shaped smears, odd in that the process of manufacturing the prints has no human contact until they are packaged. Charles from Mastercolor of Greenboro had been very helpful throughout the process of getting the work made since the end of February, and he was as devastated as I with the result which he hadn’t seen. Sample prints on different paper stock where UPS’d straight away and arrived on Wednesday 28th. The face-to-face packaging had been an issue but confounded by the saturated black pigment ink that didn’t want to stay put. I chose a giclee lustre similar to the prints I’d ordered from Germany for Silver Bonsai Gallery, on the Island, to stock. The finished mounted prints arrived on Friday 30th and Sadie, Kitty Dough (exhibitions co-ordinator at the Aquarium) and I hung the show that afternoon. I should perhaps say created the installation as that is a better description of the artwork.

Me and Kitty Dough, who has been a star throughout the past 18 months

I opened this post with the 18 months of lead time; organisation was crucial with this show. Normally I might turn up to a gallery with a car full of framed images and make design decisions with the work in the space, returning some images to the car and making an exhibition of the work that works best together in the space. But there was no space for those kind of decisions here. A working scale 2D model of the display cabinets has been on my computer for months and has changed many times until the final images, sizes etc where fixed. Even here I decided in the end to have sixteen 16×20’s and two 16×16’s so that a little interchangability was still possible – and it was needed!

The Aquarium staff, who have been encouraging and supportive throughout, were thrilled with the exhibition prints, and amazed at how quickly they were installed using 3,4 and 6 inch space bars cut from some old foamex. But the icing on the cake, that the Aquarium staff had never seen, were the 200 postcard sized ‘snapshots’ that I’d had printed as supporting work for the exhibition. These where carefully placed to look like a random collage of images taken on the North Devon coast over the last 7 years.

The first international exhibition in the North Carolina Aquarium was installed and open to the public.

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