Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The final countdown to the show

Last Tuesday (20th September) saw Stella and I armed with paintbrushes and polyfiller ready to make good the walls of the Dover and 2K Galleries at Farfield Mill Arts & Heritage Centre. The lovely staff had already done most of the hole-filling from the previous show so it was a relatively quick job to fill the rest and run up and down ladders with the paint roller. We then assembled all the plinths kindly lent by the University of Cumbria and gave them a nice coat of white paint too. The following day saw us back and beginning the exciting process of actually hanging our work. The laser level was brought out just to confirm (yet again) that the walls of all galleries are never straight! We were glad that most of the work went up without the need to get the power drill out - drilling and plugging gallery walls is definitely not my favourite occupation.

Stella managed to have the most mountaineering to do with an ambitious plan to display her whitework pieces against a floor-to-ceiling painted red stripe. With the laser level abandoned we improvised a plumb bob with string and a bolt and voila, Stella was down to business at the top of the tallest set of step ladders in the world! Several metres of low tack masking tape later and she was ready to apply the first brush stroke. It took three coats but the result was fabulous and shows the work off to perfection.

In the meantime I had finished putting my work up on the walls or on plinths and had moved out into the Heritage Gallery to install my 'Oil Pool' prodded piece which forms the lower half of our joint installation called 'Tarry Woo' after a traditional knitting song. The piece had to be wired and stitched into place around one of the mill's characteristic silver pillars -not the easiest of jobs grovelling around on the floor in low light conditions. Luckily, I managed it without stabbing myself with the needle.

Our final day consisted of  displaying our workbooks and cork boards pinned up with work samples in the 2K Gallery and then sticking down all our labels and cleaning the glass cabinet for our smaller pieces and generally tidying up. Of course, as soon as I carried my tool box out to the car we found we needed a screwdriver - always happens! And finally, just a few quiet moments for us to look round and admire our work.

Did we forget anything? Yes, pointing the wretched spotlights into all the corners, must have been the scary stepladder put us off!


Saturday, 17 September 2011

Getting ready for The Read Threads exhibition

Stella and I have been hard at work over the past month, both madly making our pieces for the show but also preparing all our exhibition publicity and acompanying materials. We've signed off the mini-catalogue and postcard, photographed our work (well Adam, Stella's son has - cheers Adam!), written panels, press releases and hundreds of personal preview invitations plus emailed out a load more. Phew!

Our exhibition preview invitation - hundreds printed and emailed!

The most exciting part of this was bringing the two parts of our pillar installation together at the mill and finding that it works brilliantly as a single piece - now christened 'Tarry Woo' after one of the local knitting songs that inspired Stella.

Stella putting the finishing touches to 'Tarry Woo'

I'm pleased to say that my work is pretty much all finished now, so today I have been concentrating on attaching pieces to their backing and then screwing on mirror plates. It's so satisfying seeing the work stacked up all ready to go. I'm still pondering exactly how to display my large 'Oil Pool' textiles though so it's not all plain sailing, but I do like a problem to solve so long as I have the time to do it without panicking!

As a little experiment I have scanned some of the sketches I made during the residency back in May and have been digitally printing them onto linen and framing them up today as well. Hopefully they will be a nice complement to the main ragwork pieces I have made.

Sara and the rest of the staff at the mill have been wonderful and we really hope that we get a good turnout for the preview next weekend if only for their sakes. With exactly a week to go it won't be long before we all find out!