This year as part of the university syllabus we completed an exhibition in a group. In this post I am going to look at my show and the degree shows I have visited to see what makes a good show.

From seeing both the Slade show and the Royal Academy it became clear to me how important it it to have descriptive labels next to pieces of work. In these two shows I found it difficult to understand fully the work and in some cases I was eager to know more about some of the pieces and could not. In my show we supplied labels with a short description of our own research and working ideas in order to give the viewer a better understanding of the work. This would enable those who are not always exhibition viewers to understand the meanings as well.

The next element I want to look at is the way finding and the flow of the exhibition. As my exhibition was set in a rectangular room, it was easy to choose a way to walk around and find your way. This is due to the fact that my exhibition was a lot smaller than the degree shows which I can imagine were a lot more complicated to curate than my show. In the Hertfordshire show, there were signs to show the way around and also a map, with this show you had the possibility to choose exactly what you wanted to see. Each room was separated inside with white walls to enable each person to have their own small exhibition space. This was a extremely similar situation to the Royal Academy show where each of the artists had their own bigger space to exhibit in. The way finding in the Herfordshire and Royal Academy show worked well due to the map that was supplied, however I found the way finding of the Slade show complexed and the lack of a map really showed when exploring the building.

In our show we had spotlights directed onto each piece to enhance our work. We used the possible natural light in the day but relying mainly on the spotlights for our work. In the Hertfordshire show this was a similar set up, the big windows enabled lots of light to flood into the room but the spotlights could take over when necessary. In the Slade show however the natural light was crucial due to the fact the artificial lights were normal room lights so could not be directed onto one place. This I felt was a disadvantage to this show.

Publicity is a crucial part of any show and any lack of it will show in the amount of people who walk through the doors. I personally feel this is where we lacked as a group in not supplying enough show publicity to the public. This meant that not a lot of people walked through the doors after the private view which was a shame. In each of the shows I attended I did not feel external publicity was that common, not many universities advertised their show outside. The intake of people into the Royal Academy was more due to its recognition and the same could be said for the Slade. The lack of external publicity for the Slade made it difficult to find which disfavoured it. Hertfordshire could easily do a lot of external publicity in both Hertfordshire and even in the University of Bedfordshire being a neighbour university.

Overall I feel that making a good show has many components and I do not know if it is ever possible to obtain a show to everyones tastes and views. I think the lighting needs to be just right and the way finding needs to be simple. Providing items such a map and a short description next to each piece goes a long way for the viewer. Publicity is also key to bringing in viewers to your show and not just publicising internally, external publicity is important to bring in people who do not know about the university or know a lot about exhibitions. It is important to make it look appealing to attract people in. It is true there are lots of factors but I think even obtaining the simple ones adds to how a person feels when entering and exploring an exhibition. Next time in my exhibition my aim is to advertise better in order to bring in more people.


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