Thoughts on travelling exhibitions

With the current exhibition Hidden Dimensions travelling to six regional Queensland galleries until 2013, I have been asked several times, how did I go about organizing this? If I put my thoughts on the process down, it may answer the questions for those artists, and also encourage others considering a proposal to galleries.

A travelling exhibition is a big commitment I agree, but it’s all about the way you choose to look at the process. It all began to take shape for me while I was sitting at my computer in Christmas 2011 pondering the current situation with galleries closing, and also looking at new ways to promote my books.  I found myself  putting together a proposal to show the remaining paintings from the Invisible Realities : Finding the Hidden Dimensions in Art book


Reflections on a river March 2012s

Having previously investigated  the opportunities to travel works, I decided to approach this project on my own, and use the time required to deliver the work to explore. During the recent Stanthorpe exhibition I was able to spend time in some amazing National Parks, and this has inspired new work.

The Gympie Art Gallery, where the exhibition is currently hanging, is close to Rainbow beach and Frazer Island and in 2013, Hidden Dimensions will visit Noosa Regional Gallery, the Tablelands Regional Gallery,  [we will visit Cape York then] and in September, Hervey Bay. I am hoping to hold two day workshops during  these exhibitions.

What are the things to consider before self-managing a solo or group travelling exhibition? Firstly, what is the purpose behind it all? Is there a clear concept and a size for the exhibition, and what does the gallery space offer?  Do you have an available vehicle that can carry all the artworks and a supportive person or team to come on the deliveries and come to the openings with you?

My proposal was put together in a professional manner with CV’s, a current statement, details of the concept and a CD of images. I offered a gallery talk, and a workshop and would consider a residency as part of the proposal. There are so many positives in travelling exhibitions, with new audiences to reach, and I always say never underestimate who will view an exhibition.  Hearing the ideas of gallery staff and dedicated passionate volunteers is also a positive.

While the exhibition is on, my goal is to market it as widely as possible, not just in the current location. It’s about keeping the work in front of people and also an opportunity to document the exhibition.  A big plus is experiencing the countryside on a more intimate level.

There can be negative perceptions unfortunately, like the man who announced loudly ‘so you don’t sell your artwork either’ when I mentioned the travelling shows in a talk elsewhere. What do you say to people like this? I don’t believe you have to justify your career decisions to anyone, let alone the naysayers. Yes the work will be tied up for some time, but surprisingly, at most regional galleries it is offered for sale. This may deplete the available work to tour, but is that a negative?

Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery

Ground floor gallery - Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery

The exhibition spaces in the regional galleries are quite wonderful.  Halfway through the exercise now, with the first three exhibitions hung, would I do this again? Definitely. Out of this project came the push to work with my photographs, which I hadn’t acknowledged as artworks in their own right.  They have evolved into original archival prints through using new processes, and as limited editions can be sold several times in the course of the tours.

My thanks again go to all the staff and volunteers who I have meet at the exhibitions. For anyone considering this road, I am happy to share my experiences. You can view a funny time – lapse video of hanging the Gympie Art Gallery Hidden Dimensions exhibition  and gallery photographs on my Facebook page

Gympie Regional Gallery

Gympie Regional Gallery - Hidden Dimensions in Gallery 3