Over the past few days, my walls have been subject to numerous nail holes and pencil marks (I’m hoping my landlord doesn’t notice) with the intention of setting up a mock installation of the Berwick photo series. I’d never considered ‘exhibiting’ works in my own home before, but was encouraged after reading Exhibiting Photography, which suggests that the photographer should ‘devise a hanging system in their home or studio, which will mean that they live with the work for as long as it takes’ (Read, 2014: 54).
Armed with hammer and pre-prepared cork boards, I got to work. I’d like to note here that this exercise was, for the most part, experimental. I printed off some reference images and roughly attached them to the boards (which I have, after much deliberation, decided to incorporate) and started to construct a layout, taking inspiration from works discussed in a previous post. Much to my initial hesitation, I refrained from a neat, linear approach and combined alternating orientations to create a more diverse experience. Instead of looking at the piece as a whole, which is far easier to do when orientation and framing is structured and identical throughout, each board, and thus each photograph, demands attention.
The empty cork board on the bottom right is intentional at this point. I’d been conflicted as to whether to spray paint all the boards, whether to paint the frames for a more stereotypical look, or whether to just give up and donate the collection to a nearby charity stop. I questioned time and again why I’d made more work for myself. I was reassured, however, by another of Read’s meditations:
‘An artist has to feel free to trust his or her instinct and follow where it leads, even if it takes them away from the original idea which motivated the work’ (2014: 53)
So I’ve decided to embrace it. The cork boards themselves have numerous metaphorical justifications; firstly, they may be said to resemble notice boards which are often found outside of churches, whereby members of the community can post notices and so on; secondly, the temporality of this kind of presentation, attached with some modest Poundland drawing pins, aims to evoke something of impermanence, aligning with the murals within Berwick themselves. Visually, I decided to leave two of the cork boards as they come originally (the final one is pending payday) to create a more contrasted and aesthetic look overall; when adding a photograph, it looks quite striking (final images are subject to change).
As shown in the image below, which differs in structure, one more board will be added to the top left of the installation to meet the assignment criteria of 8-10 images. Evidently, I’ve still not quite nailed down (pardon the pun) the final selection of images and placement, but this exercise has been instrumental in helping me reach those important final decisions. Creating a coherent series of works is much more difficult than it seems, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.
My task now, then, is to finalise my series based upon the valuable information that was yielded through this exercise, through some last changes to editing and print layouts which I may have otherwise overlooked. Once everything is complete, I will reproduce this installation and photograph it so it can be viewed in situ, as the murals are.
Read, S. 2014. Exhibiting Photography – A Practical Guide to Displaying Your Work (2nd ed). Focal Press: London & New York