Thursday, 2 February 2017

Making Art, Getting it Out There, Marketing, Evaluating and Living

Deep Space Moolog 17 Sep - 12 Nov 2016, 20-21 Visual Arts Centre photo by Jules Lister
It’s six months since my last blog post and in that period so much has happened: I made a new website, finished making the work for Deep Space Moolog, installed the show, had a Celebration Event, presented an Artist Talk, met and chatted to various visitors to the show, ran a day of drop-in kids workshops for almost 100 children, made a presentation to a group of to Fine Art Foundation Students, took the show down and packed the work away. 

Most recently I have completed editing a 6 min. video interview (which I think fairly concisely explains how I drew on the disparate influences of Neolithic cave drawings, vintage sci-fi and Time Travel to make my immersive walk through installation - Deep Space Moolog).

I am now continuing to publicise this body of work as I am still on the look out for a second venue to move it on to.

That’s the ‘in a nutshell’ version of my 2016 and Deep Space Moolog, so now onto some more detail and highlights.

Everyone knows that artists need to have staying power, don’t they? I mean it is common knowledge that things don't just happen overnight isn’t it? My method is to just keep on going (no matter if at times the pace does seem slow) and keep making the work that I feel compelled to make. A friend said to me recently that I must make what I make because I want people to like it. No absolutely not! I’m certainly not trying to please anyone; if other people connect with my work, well that’s a plus … a big plus.
A young visitor to the show. Photo by Kirsty E Smith
Someone else recently said, ‘Well of course it’s common knowledge that artists have other (day) jobs’. As it turns out in the middle of making the work for Deep Space Moolog I had more than one big change in my life and one of them was leaving my full time day job without a new one to go to. I’m not complaining; just mentioning that artists are people with lives outside of their studios too.
Kirsty E Smith presenting her Artist Talk at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre Photo by Dominic Ewan
Anyway, back to Deep Space Moolog……
Making the new beings for the show was a real pleasure. I had so much fun and it just reaffirmed my love of making in 3D and working in a playful way while not worrying about a pre-determined outcome. What I mean is that I don’t work by designing first; rather I experiment with materials, spend time with them and wait to see what form suggests itself. Next I work out how on earth to make it; I love pondering on construction problems and when working with unconventional materials, repurposed objects and ‘scrap’ then this is often a challenge.
Charmaine in the making Photo Kirsty E Smith
But as Susan Simpson mentioned in her mini review blog post about the show each of these new beings was ‘pet sized’ so actually I felt that construction challenges were on a manageable scale.

I’d always planned to have a translucent curtained walkway for the installation and I had included costs of having fabric digitally printed in my Arts Council funding application. I have to say I was absolutely delighted with the quality of the 20m long by 240cm deep digitally printed curtain (great work Dominion Print). I enjoyed making the digital collage even though the file was so huge that it nearly killed my computer. By the time that I had ramped up the saturation and layered elements of the partially made beings and line drawings (that I was also using for the animated sections of the film) onto photographs of the Cresswell Crags cave walls it all looked pretty zingy. 
Taken in the late afternoon winter light- this was the best time of day to appreciate the curtained backdrop. Photo by Kirsty E Smith
Making the 7 minute film for the show was happening at the same time as making the beings and backdrop; I like having variety in my work and I need a balance of sitting at computer and working in a more physical way. The video editing tuition from Dominic Ewan was invaluable. He was great to work with; listening to my ideas as they evolved and taking things at a pace that didn’t overwhelm me. Building my video editing skills was a key part of my Arts Council funding application and I feel that I succeeded in this. Sound became significant element of the video and through my editing I feel that I succeeded in pulling together my thoughts on Ancient Astronaut Theory with the 40,000 year old cave drawings found at Creswell Crags. It was a wonderful moment of synchronicity when I discovered that the voice that I’d heard on so many of the Radio360 podcasts (that I was listening to while working in the studio) was that of Alan Watts and I also later discovered how well known Erich Von Daniken was when I spent time in the gallery and had lively conversations with people who remembered the significance of his writings and films on Ancient Astronaut Theory.
 The celebration event took place a month into the 8 week show and I am so grateful that I took heed of the motto of successful people. Don’t wait until you can do things perfectly; don’t let the desire for perfection hold you back. So it was decided (at the last minute) to video the talk and stream it live as a Facebook Live video. Wow that was easy and it certainly enabled viewers around the world (UK, France, USA and Australia in particular) to get a flavour of my work.

Some of my favourite advice from marketing icon Paul Arden
The next major job to be done was the evaluation of the show. Completing the ACE evaluation form was actually really good because it allowed me to recall and re-live all the enthusiastic responses, the curious questions and even the giggles that I had heard from visitors. I reread comments in the gallery visitor book and edited photos both mine, friends and professional ones. (And as I type this I’ve received notification this morning that the final instalment of the funding has been paid into my account. Thanks Arts Council England and Wales)

Of course as I my marketing ‘machine’ trundles on I really do need to get back into the studio and let loose some fresh creative ideas.

Special thanks to:
-Dominic Mason and the team at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre. If you get a chance to work with them do!
-Joanne Lee for her mentoring and essay A Transmission from Deep Space Moolog
-Dominic Ewan for his all round support and video editing teaching skills
-Martin Currie for his surprise interview
and of course
-Everyone who came to the show 
View from the security camera. Photo by Kirsty E Smith