Gallery

Day Seven

Today started again with editing more artist statements. Like last week, it was great. Since today was the due date for the artists to send in their written and image elements, I had a decent stack of documents to occupy myself with. Having studied and come to understand my ex-classmates’ artistic styles over the last three years, it was fascinating to see their approaches to writing.

Whipping the images into shape proved a little tougher however. I’d been putting off dealing with artist images since last week, as several of them were not correctly formatted. Despite specifying for images to be 300dpi and either JPEG or TIFF format, about half of the images sent were of far lower quality. And for some weird reason someone sent in a screenshot, of a photo, of their work. It’s not like I was trying to be difficult – the images needed to be of a certain quality to look good on web and print publications. To be honest I was kind of expecting for this to happen. While I hate to generalise (as I know it’s not true of everyone in the industry) but I know SO MANY artists who can’t quite get their heads around tech.Not that I’m an expert, but it does kind of go to show the importance of staying updated re. technologies important in your industry.

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So at least you can avoid this scenario

Frowning ever so slightly at the ten or so lacklustre images I had to work with, almost trying to wish them into being better quality, I thought about my options.

  • I could send emails back to everyone asking for them to, please, send images with the correct specifications. But I realised this might just result a whole bunch of people not understanding the issue, or how to solve it.

  • Ask Google.

Unsurprisingly, I went with option two. Turns out some smart cookie has already solved this problem and created an online program for converting image dpi. Now I’m pretty sure there’s a reason why you’re not supposed to do this. I vaguely remember being told in a photography class that this does something to the image size or something something. But after testing out an image, and seeing vast improvement for only a little bit of cropping, I was sold. All hail Google and people who put free stuff up online.

I then spent half an hour calling hydroponic supply retailers. For art, I swear.

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An artist who was going to be exhibiting soon at Hazelhurst wanted to use silver-backed mylar film for an installation and wanted to know where it could be sourced from. While I don’t hate calling people, I have always found it awkward as heck. Something about not being able to see someone’s face and gauge their response – I always end up talking over people by accident. But realising that I am inevitably going to have to call people all the time in every sort of job I ever have, I got stuck into it. I eventually found out answers to all of the artist’s questions and, as a bonus, learned what a ‘um’ was in regards to measurements.

For the rest of the day I got to research another big upcoming exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition was going to bring together the work of artists across the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara  (APY) lands.

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APY art-fernoon

I knew the exhibition was a pretty big deal for Hazelhurst, as they’d just been lucky enough to receive Australia Council funding for it. Which I presume, with the recent federal funding cuts to the arts sector, may be one of the lasts grants not gifted in the form of food stamps.

Researching art from the APY lands was a pretty great way to spend the afternoon really – all I had to do was look up previous images of the exhibiting artists and catalogue it with all the usual details.  Plus I got to learn more about a region of Australia I’d only previously heard mentioned in passing. 4.5 star afternoon

Gallery

Day Five

Technically today marks the end of my first working “week” (five days over 5 weeks) interning at Hazelhurst gallery and arts centre.

I celebrated, as I assume is traditional, by spending nearly an hour this morning scanning hardcopy documents into digital documents.

Typical of galleries, Hazelhurst keeps a visitor’s book at the entrance to their main gallery for visitors to comment on current exhibitions. Now I have no idea if it’s also typical for galleries to create copies of these comments for the exhibiting artists as mementos (retrospectively it might actually have been a wise idea to  ask), but I thought it was a pretty neat thing to gift to the artists. And hence why I spent my morning scanning a visitor’s book.

Though a tad monotonous, going through the book as I scanned it was a surprisingly educative experience. Like many people my age, my ability to handwrite is vestigial at best, a hallmark of older, darker times. So I’d never really bothered to leave a comment in a visitor’s book before. I assumed though that the comments would be blandly positive and polite.

What I actually learned was visitor’s books are essentially the pre-digital equivalent of online comment sections. Filled with trolls.

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Like their online counterparts, visitor book trolls can rarely spell correctly.

To be fair there were plenty of the aforementioned generically positive comments. But I was kind of amazed by the significant number of negative, and in some case just plain baffling comments that people had written down.

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But is this really the place to share that?

After I commented on this I was informed that a disgruntled visitor had actually disliked an exhibition so much one time that they accosted the curator while they were speaking to someone. Way to get upset about not enjoying a free art exhibition bro. I mean at least the art made you feel ~something~. The experience reminded me of how in nearly every industry you’re going to come across people you can’t please, and you’re just going to have to deal with it.

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My morning of – let’s be honest – filing, led into the rest of the day spent researching. I’m starting to realise why so much of university is spent doing research-based assignments; that skill is going to be helpful later on. Much as I was scanning the visitor’s book as a memento for artists who had exhibited in previous exhibitions, I was tasked with searching for all previous media and event listings to also gift to these same artists.

I realised two things while completing this task.

  • Shameless self-promotion seems to be (unfortunately) so important in attracting press for art exhibitions. Maybe I’m just a terrible researcher, but there was a very meagre supply of media coverage available on the exhibitions involved. An occasional write-up in the regional paper, a brief mention in the Sydney Morning Herald’s “what’s on this weekend” section, and a whole bunch of obscure event listing sites that I’d never heard of were all I could really find on the exhibitions. I imagine that as an artist, if you really want to get your work into circulation, you’ve got to keep doggedly putting yourself out there and promoting your work.
  • There are SO many artists just in the Sydney general area. So many. I swear every time I’m at Hazelhurst I learn of another dozen. This actually might contribute to my first point – promoting yourself and getting exhibited might be kind of tough when there’s a whole bunch of equally eager artists trying to do the same thing in a culture that doesn’t really promote visuals arts as a viable career option. Also – how do all these artists get noticed and approached by galleries to exhibit? And what do they do when they’re not exhibiting at galleries, particularly when not every exhibition pays artists? I mean I know grants are a thing but I could not live solely reliant on that.

So all in all I suppose today has been quite introspective. I’ve raised quite a number of questions. Should probably see about getting them answered next time I’m at Hazelhurst.

Gallery

Day Four

Weirdly enough, I really enjoy writing emails. This I think is due to me not regarding them as ‘work’. I mean they’re basically just written conversations, a whole lot of answering and asking questions. Writing emails gives me the opportunity to practice writing professionally, and there’s something really amusing about doing that. In fact, sending emails for work has all the satisfaction of achieving something with none of the effort.

So that’s how I chose to start my fourth day interning at Hazelhurst – writing emails. With all the important dates confirmed in my meeting with Carrie last week, I was now able to get back to wheedling my ex-classmates into submitting artist statements, bios, images of their work to exhibited etc. for the upcoming exhibition. I’ve still yet to hear back from Ana at all, and I’ve tried every form I can think of without actually ambushing her at home. Oh well. Have to keep trying.

Onto making a room sheet. It seems pretty early to be making one, but by some weird stroke of luck I’d spent the last two weeks learning all about document and publication design in an unrelated university subject. Always a great feeling to know that the subjects you spend an unwholesome amount of money on/sell your soul for –  actually come in handy in the workforce. Not entirely sure if my enthusiasm for the room sheet was shared by Carrie though. I imagine if you’ve seen one room sheet you’ve seen them all.

Something else I learned today:

Don’t rush a task and write everything in chicken scratch. Take your damn time to write things down neatly so you do not inevitably have to go back and do everything again.

I learned this the hard way after lunch when I was assigned the task of creating a scale, measured floor plan of the community gallery space. A floor plan already existed but the measurements were off, doors were missing from it, extra windows existed – you get the idea. More of a floor ad lib.

The idea was that if I was able to create a half-decent drawing of the space the measurements could all be sent off to proper designer and the plans could be used for years to come.

“Finally,” I thought. “With these plans, my legacy will live on forever.”

Back to the chicken scratch handwriting. Graham, who is predominantly in charge of the community gallery space, was helping me take down the measurements for the floor plan. He seemed pretty busy, and subsequently I tried to take all the measurements down quickly. This of course resulted in the aforementioned unintelligible amalgamation of numbers and lines that is probably an offense against both man and god.

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I’ve created a monster.

 

Interpreting my notes, re-measuring and digitally re-creating the floor map took up the rest of the afternoon. Something that probably should have taken me an hour and a half took double that, mostly because of a rushed effort. At least today I tried out something new, and maybe learned something.

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