Some people would say that the success of an exhibition is measured by the number of red stickers on the wall. And while I agree that red stickers are lovely, I don’t think they are the only measure of success.
For me, the real payoff for an exhibition is in the creation of new ideas and new work. The pressure of the deadline certainly helps to push my creativity. And the confines of the concept help to contain the creativity. Looking for new ways to expand (or contract) my practice is the aim. Concept, design, creation, display.
I’m never going to feel disappointed if there are no red stickers on the wall. There can be so many reasons for this, only one of which might be the actual work! It can also include: not enough promotion, wrong customer base for my work, too many other things going on (SALA, Fringe), heat waves, rain, economy etc. A lot of those things are out of my control, so it doesn’t help me to worry about them. I just have to accept that there are many reasons why my work might not sell. But at least I have done the work.
Here is an example: I designed a collection of new work as part of a SALA exhibition last year. The beads were all etched, and there was a huge variety of pieces for people to choose from (and colours). I found the exhibition sales were OK, bits and pieces sold, and I was happy with that. BUT. Then I took the leftover jewellery and displayed it in some of the galleries that sell my work. I had some in one particular gallery that was seen by the manager of another gallery. I got a phone call about the work. “We want some of that in our gallery.” It went on to be the best-selling pieces over Christmas for that gallery and for me! So, the number of red stickers at the exhibition, did not match at all the success of that range of jewellery.
That is why, when I am happy with the work that I have created, that is when I feel successful. It may not translate straight away into sales, and I’ve learned to be OK with that.
p.s the necklaces pictured above have SOLD as part of the Resonate exhibition, showing at Gallery M until March 8.