Final Major Project Reflection 16

I haven’t written a reflection recently, preferring instead to include my thoughts in my blog posts. However, as my tutor is keen for me to include my personal experiences I thought I would share with you my experiences of visiting a couple of galleries in London last week.

I have been promising to go to London and visit the galleries that hold Constable paintings for several weeks or even months now and last week was when I actually went.

I was staying in Essex and caught a train into Liverpool Street that arrived around 10:00. It was quite empty but there was a man on the seat in front of me that that kept sniffing and slurping his drink and then there was a man next to me across the aisle who was also sniffing and blowing his nose. It was a bit annoying and did make me feel a bit sick but I am a woman of patience, little did I know that this was the start of a very testing day.

On arriving at Liverpool Street I chose to get the tube over to South Kensington where I could begin at the V&A and then walk back across London to the Tate Britain and then the National Gallery. I won’t mention the large school party that tried to get on the tube and exit at the same station as me, they were only mildly frustrating as they took up the whole platform and waited on the exit stairs for everyone to gather together.

I’ve not been to the V&A before and was blown away by the scale of the museum and the size of some of the exhibits. They are beautifully laid out and there is a wonderful range of items on display. With no time to spare I headed straight for the paintings area and the two galleries that hold the Constable paintings. As far as I could tell, the two galleries that hold the Constable paintings were the only two galleries in the whole museum that were closed! Only in England does a flagship museum choose to change the lightbulbs in the middle of a busy Easter school holiday! I asked the man atop of the cherry picker if they were going to to reopen the galleries and he very politely said that they would only be an hour. Not a problem I had seen some very interesting exhibits on my way and would be pleased to go back and view them in more detail.

After pootling around the theatrical exhibit and taking in some lovely Beatrix Potter illustrated letters I went back to the painting area. The workmen were still busy and as there was a sign that said if I needed any help would I please speak to a member of staff, I spoke to a member of staff. Her initial response was “Its nothing to do with me, you need to ask the contractors!” I gave her a ‘look,’ to which she responded “Alright. I’ll go and ask them.”

It turned out that they had been asked to do another piece of work and were going to be another hour. They did concede that they would reopen the second gallery but needed to keep the first gallery closed for safety reasons. I asked the member of staff if it would be possible to let me into this first gallery for a few minutes to view Constable’s Hay Wain sketch and the Salisbury Cathedral painting for a few minutes before they began work again to which she responded “You can see them from here.” I was several metres away behind a rope and at 90 degrees to most of the paintings. I began to explain that I was only in London for the day, I wouldn’t be able to get back again for some time and that I was interested in Constable for my degree course to which she replied “There is some of his paintings in the other gallery, you can go and look in there…” By this time I was more than a bit peeved and couldn’t bring myself to give her another ‘look.’ Instead I simply pointed and said “But it is the Hay Wain sketch I particularly need to see.” She responded by helpfully pointing out “Well you’ll just have to wait then.”

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I was so cheesed off at that response that I stormed out of the museum. I say that I stormed out, it is such a big museum and I didn’t know the way out. It took me about 10 or 15 minutes to finally make my dramatic exit!

I don’t really know that part of London very well but when I saw a familiar fast food logo I thought I would drown my sorrows in a burger, fries and diet coke. I dutifully queued at the quick service till only to have four or five very tall international teenage boys push in front of me. I resisted the urge to point out that that is not the way to queue and instead moved across to a ‘slow’ till.

As I had been marching down Kensington High Street I had passed Holy Trinity Church, Brompton which advertised that it had a cafe. After my burger I thought I would go back to the church and sit in the cafe while I waited for the workmen in the V&A to finish. The cafe is advertised as being open from 11:00 to 16:00 on a Thursday so I was surprised to see, after walking down quite a long drive, that there was a notice on the door saying ‘reopens at 2pm.’ Only in England would a cafe be shut at lunchtime!

It was a beautiful day and the church has a lovely garden so I consoled myself by sitting in the sun for half an hour.

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Back in the V&A the workmen had gone and I was able to get a good look at the paintings but time was pressing on and although I now didn’t have time for the Tate Britain I could still visit the National Gallery if I walked quickly.

I walked down Kensington High Street, along Hyde Park and over towards Buckingham Palace, along the Mall and into Trafalgar Square.

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The National Gallery was heaving and not a pleasant place to be. The final painting of the Hay Wain is there and I was interested to watch several people pointing it out and talking about it. My Mum rang me while I was in there so I tried to escape quite quickly but again couldn’t find my way out and had to ask a member of staff how to get out!

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I headed back along the Embankment to Liverpool Street and as I approached I rang my brother and asked what train he planned to get home. He was already on the train, the front coach on platform 12. I had 10 minutes so I ran across the concourse to platform 12 and down all eight coaches to try and find him but he wasn’t there. I rang him again only for him to double check and let me know that he was actually on platform 11. This was not just across the platform but back up the eight coaches to the ticket barrier and then all the way down another eight coaches to the front of the next train. Just as I jumped onboard the signal went and we pulled away as I was sitting down.

I had arranged to meet someone briefly at Ipswich station to collect something before returning to Colchester and eventually home on the Clacton line. As I was at the front of the train with my brother for his stop, I was the wrong end for a quick getaway at Ipswich and found myself running along the platform, back up the eight coaches and over the bridge just as they were announcing that the next train to Colchester was the next train at platform 2. I dashed out of the station met my friend, grabbed what I needed, ran back into the station and straight onto the train.

At Colchester I was again the wrong end of the train and with just three or four minutes to spare ran back up the platform, along all eight coaches, then past the shops and onto the Clacton line train where I finally fell exhausted into a seat. Joy of Joys, when I arrived at my final station I got off the train at exactly the right place to leave the station without having to take a step further than I needed to!

Throughout this traumatic day I did in fact learn something! I was struck by Constable’s love of his local countryside and how he sketched and painted whatever was around him, wherever he was, rejecting the popular mountainous landscapes of his predecessors preferring instead to paint ordinary life. Perhaps, alongside my panoramas of Constable’s landscapes I should include a panorama of one of my local landscapes?

Self Promotion for Photographers

We have had a discussion in class about how best to promote ourselves and our businesses. We discussed the different social media outlets that we already use and shared ideas about others that we could use.

I already have a Facebook page, Twitter feed and an Instagram feed and we discussed the pros and cons of them suggesting that regular updates – around three per day is ideal. We also suggested that there should be a split between what we produce ourselves and what we repost from other people. If we find something interesting then our followers are likely to find it interesting too.

I was not previously aware of Society 6. An American website that allows you to print your photos on a range of products and to sell them in an online shop. Although all the sales are in American dollars I have set up an account, uploaded a few photos and begun to promote them on my social media sites. I’ve chosen subjects that I think are bright and colourful and will look good printed on the various different mediums. I think the products are a little expensive but I’m optimistic that someone may buy something and I’ll add further photographs over the coming weeks.

 

Saatchiart is another site I was unfamiliar with but it looks very good. It is a website where you can buy and sell art of all kinds in an online gallery, but with the Saatchi name behind it, it has more kudos than Artsy or other similar sites. I haven’t set up an account for Saatchiart yet but will do in a few weeks and I hope to be able to include my FMP photos on there for sale.

We also discussed posting photos to stock photography sites. We discussed several sites but I felt that Alamay was probably best for me as they do a really good deal for students and while I am a student I can make the most of it. I’ve set up an account, but haven’t yet uploaded any images to the site.

Self-promotion takes time and when I am busy it is one of the first things to get missed but I recognise that it is very important and if I get into the habit of routinely adding information to all of these sites now it will be better for me in the long-term.

Hull International Photography Festival

I had planned to meet a friend for lunch today and as she is another keen photographer I asked if she would like to have a look around some of the HIP exhibitions before we ate.

We began by looking at The Kings of England by HIP Artistic Director Graeme Oxby in HIP Gallery 4. It is a collection of bright photos of Elvis Presley impersonators, fans and memorabilia. Photos are presented in large, gold, ornate picture frames against grey walls which I think works really well and adds to a sense of opulence around the king.

There were several different styles of photography mixed up in the same display. There were some ‘live’ photos of Elvis impersonators on stage or captured naturally, but there were also some staged or posed photos, some of which were heavily edited and then there were a few cultural photos of fans in their home or of their accessories. While the variety made it interesting I felt that if it had been laid out with the different style of photography together it would have told more of a story as you walked around the room. I also thought that the ‘cut out’ photographs were a bit out of place and could have done with not being included.

The addition of a ‘throne’ in the gallery made it quite fun and gave it an interactive feel. When I was in there a group of children were taking turns to take photos of each other sitting on the chair.

Also in the same gallery was Lumen by Verity Harr whose photographs investigate the way light can transform the ordinary into something sublime. Although very different from The Kings of England I thought the two displays worked quite well together. They were separated clearly enough that they didn’t distract from one another.

In the POP Gallery there was a display called The British Abroad by Peter Dench. I thought it was laid out well and told a clear story although it wasn’t clear which end was the start and twice when I visited it, I found myself viewing it backwards. There were quite a lot of images in the display and all the photographs were displayed at the same size, in simple frames, on white walls.

I found the photographs themselves quite difficult to look at, they were very embarrassing and made me very uncomfortable about being British.

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The Royal Photographic Society’s Biennial Exhibition was displayed in the POP Gallery 2. I really enjoyed looking around this exhibition. It was packed with all kinds of photography, some that I liked, some that I didn’t and some that I thought was outstanding. Photos here were taken by 100 different people, but all were displayed at the same size, in the same frames and at the same height. In the centre of the room each photograph was displayed on its own wall and those along the edges of the gallery were displayed with enough space around them to not distract from each other.

Compared to our little end of year exhibition last summer, both galleries felt much more professional and much more ordered and coherent. We had to display our photographs around butterflies, mirrors and canvas prints. We displayed our photographs in a cafe that had green walls around tables and chairs where customers would be having lunch and drinking coffee. Our photographs were not necessarily the main purpose for a lot of the visitors. Also because each of us planned to display a different number of photographs at different sizes the display was less co-ordinated than perhaps it could have been.

We had issues about how we could fix our photographs to the walls of the cafe. We were not allowed to drill holes and ended up printing onto foam board and fixing them with velcro. This was not ideal as it pulled the paint from the walls after and the room needed decorating anyway. From our point of view it meant that we couldn’t display our photos in frames as we had initially hoped.

Having looked around the HIP exhibitions I have a clearer idea of how I would like to see my photographs displayed in the future.

*Photo taken by Anete Sooda