Tag Archives: university

Fine Art has left the building……

The exhibition is over.  The room is empty.  The project that has consumed the last six months every waking thought is packed away in bubblewrap and I am left a little bereft and wondering what to do.   So how did it go?

Over the 15 days the exhibition was open, we had 1028 (adult) visitors which is an incredible achievement.   It was always interesting watching people viewing the work – a mixture of art lovers who had come specifically and parents of children at Action Stations who wandered into an alternative universe from the noisy child centred activity around us.

Of the ‘walk ins’ it was clear that some were not used to seeing an art exhibition but in the spirit of wandering around the Dockyard perhaps, they gave it a go and had a good look round.   It was very rewarding to feel that we may have challenged some beliefs about what fine art is all about.

We had some favorite moments, like when a child asked his Dad what my 3D installation ‘Opportunity’ was.   “That’s art Henry, that’s art” he replied 🙂


And when we had a bone fide (and rather handsome) celebrity visit who was presumably just visiting the dockyard with their kids for the holidays, but it was lovely of him to drop in.

A couple of kids were unruly and we had some damage to a couple of things (luckily repairable) – but we always knew that was a risk but the benefits of having so many kids (not counted in the numbers above) see the show out-weighed that completely.


For my own stats, we were keeping record of the number of times that Being Present was triggered and how many people saw it through to the end.  I always knew that a 2 minute art performance would stretch many people as the average time someone will stand infront of a piece of art is usually measured in seconds!    I’m still working on the data but will post figures soon.

The raffle was extremely successful – 6 original pieces of art from the artists – there was something for everyone as entrants could prioritise their favorites.  In the event, when the raffle was called, everyone got their first or second choice.   Jenny Walden, Associate Dean, at the University of Portsmouth was there to receive her winning piece from me which was lovely!

Jenny Walden receiving her raffle prize 

So what made our exhibition so successful?  I put it down to two factors.  Firstly, location location location!  We had a wonderful space in one of Britain’s top tourist attractions – that was a great move!  Secondly the effort and expense we went to for marketing – it was the lion’s share of our spending but worth every penny.  I was always gratified by people coming in with one of our fliers, or who said they heard about us on Twitter or who had read about us in the local paper.  And of course we were on the Big Screen too!

MMP_1642 (1)
Exodus on the Big Screen, Portsmouth Guildhall Square.

You can see a virtual Exodus exhibition here>> peppermintsea.com/exodus



It’ll do… won’t it?

The last few months have been an incredible learning curve – learning about the art world and what sort of art I want to produce and attempting to find my feet in this very new place.

I’ve continued to develop my work for the summer exhibition – and yesterday on a train to Basingstoke I suddenly had an idea for a fifth 3D piece that I am very excited about.  It involves about 500 business cards!

On Friday was the opening of our Interim Show which went really well.  I have exhibited a series of nine found signs called “Do not crush the daisy”.    We live in a world of negative signs.  These signs do not nurture us or keep us safe, they seek to control and carry a strong emotional message that tells the viewer they are not wanted or not free to express themselves.   These signs act like injunctions and stab at us as we go about our day.

The exhibition continues in Eldon Building, Winston Churchill Avenue, Portsmouth until 2nd June.

I have also been busy entering open calls and preparing work for exhibitions in June and I have learnt a lot about how I want to present my work.   There is nothing worse than walking into a room and seeing your own work and being disappointed because you didn’t present it in the best way possible.

I am prone to cutting corners, either to save effort or money, and a common phrase of mine used to be “it will be all right” or “It’ll do” – and of course it seldom is.   Cutting corners shows and I am learning, even if it costs more or takes longer, that I have to do my absolute best to show my work in it’s best light.   I don’t want that feeling of being disappointed again.   And of course the result of cutting corners if often far more effort and cost as I found out this week when I had to rehang my entire exhibition late the evening before!

As an artist it is extremely tempting to save money wherever you can!

Mindfulness has helped in this regard immensely, enabling me to step back and see what needs doing and to observe how I am feeling about some aspect of the work.

This week I realised that there is a huge difference between “It’ll do” and “It doesn’t have to be perfect“.   Striving for perfection might be a hard sometimes (and overkill), often all that’s needed is the best available solution under the circumstances and knowing what’s required without going overboard is a great skill to cultivate!

Next time I catch myself thinking “It’ll do” I will step back and ask “Will it really?



Worth a visit to the BA Fine Art Degree Show in Chichester

A group of us from MA Fine Art in Portsmouth took a trip over to sunny Chichester today to checkout the art on display by Chichester Fine Art students.  So glad we went, it is a great show (on over the weekend – don’t miss it!) and we picked up some tips for our show as well.

The work on display was beautiful, and so much to see from each artist.  Some of the pieces are huge and some are tiny and delicate.   There were some very moving pieces and some very skilled ones.   A great show in a wonderful location.

As for tips for our show, we liked the catalogue, the shop, the cards, the work for sale, talks from the artists and the sheer boldness of the displays – I think our show will definitely be influenced by some of these 🙂

Impressive range of facilities available at Uni

Since going back to Uni this week, I have had inductions in several of the workshops.  Yesterday was the production workshop and it was fun to see the different things I could do if I chose to.  I was particularly excited by the digital printing on fabric.  The idea of having either my photographs or one of my paintings on fabric for my final exhibition has set my mind racing.    The other area that really interested me was the plastics, I love the idea of melting sheets of acrylic over objects – I merely have to think of a use for that!

We also were shown the woodworking tools, which although impressive, are not likely to be an area that I use.  I’m handy with a drill in the DIY sense but the sheer size and magnitude of some of these tools left me rather intimidated!

Sadly, I didn’t have my phone with me for that induction, but there are lots of pictures of today’s one – the print workshops.

I have never even considered doing screen printing or letter pressing for my fine art work but instantly I was excited by the possibilities.   Below are some pictures of my day – I went to the library on the way home to pick up a book on screen printing and intend to spend the day in the workshops on Monday to consolidate what I learnt.

Today was one of those game changing days when you realise there are so many more possibilities than you realised!

And I am very impressed with the facilities on offer at Portsmouth Uni too – I am already going to be sad to give this up in September!

Steep learning curve – week 5- planning the exhibition

This week has been a huge learning curve.  I have been prepping for my exhibition at Portsmouth Guildhall – it’s one thing to put together a proposal for an art exhibition, and quite another to have it accepted and have just 3 weeks to make it a reality!

For starters, I did not yet have enough photographs, so two days last week were spent taking more pictures, walking between the two buildings, watching for shadows, reflections and small details of interest.   Just one day I took over 300, and with the ones I already had it wasn’t too hard to bring that down to 40 possibles.

I showed these to a photography tutor at uni and with his help, cut the work down to 30 to show the curators.    He also had interesting ideas about the layout and delivery of the work, which left me frantically researching different printing possibilities and layout aesthetics.

Then, I had to sort out the quality of the pictures I had produced.  I found that due to an accident of software settings, the jpgs I had prepared were not as good quality as they could have been and so, early on Sunday morning I set about reproducing each picture to ensure it was better.   I am not used to producing work for print, so I have had to think about dpi’s and pixel sizes etc.   Producing work for the screen is quite different.

I also have not got any experience of the printing and hanging method I have chosen so I have sourced a company and sent off for two test prints, it will have cost me £40, but absolutely essential to be sure that the 18 I do get printed, some as large as A2, are as good as they can be.

Then I met with the curators again today and we whittled the 30 down to the 18 required.  It wasn’t too hard in the end, they were obvious together and I am very happy with the selection.   Denise and Ann, the two curators are so enthusiastic and encouraging, it’s a wonderful tonic to meet with them!   And it is always lovely to visit the Business Lounge where the exhibition will be, it is a large, sunny room decorated in blues and yellows – I am excited to think of my work taking up the enormous end wall.

Sorting out what to keep and what to leave out.
Sorting out what to keep and what to leave out.

Now I have to think about the preview evening, arrange dates, think about marketing, come up with an invite list, review the test prints and get the rest ordered.  I need to come up with a detailed hanging plan (hmm, imperial or metric?! – I work in both being a child of the ’60s and mustn’t get them confused) and think about postcards, invites, interviews, press coverage and decide what I am going to wear! 🙂

It is slowly dawning on me what an opportunity of a lifetime this really is.

The featured image above is one of the ones that narrowly missed out on being chosen for the exhibition.

Reflections on the last 7 months…..minions and blue cucumbers!

It’s been 7 months since I was made redundant and my life was turned upside down, or is that inside out?   I was lucky to get enough of a payment not to have to worry for a few months, so you’d think it was a wonderful time.   Not exactly.   Not going to work every day and having that structure in my life has been surprisingly hard. And watching my husband having to continue with the rat race is not easy either.    Initially I felt rejected, lost and lonely and those feelings still surface every now and then, but not so often.   I miss my work colleagues the most.

Of course this time has given me the gift of playing with my creativity.  It has happened in fits and starts, some weeks I paint nothing, today I have done four large watercolours!    I don’t know when inspiration will strike again.   I have done far more photography than painting, partly because it is so accessible and free.  Painting costs a surprising amount – I was looking at my favourite watercolour brush today and it needs replacing, but it will cost about £20 to do so and so I just carry on with the old one.  I need to practice not totting up the cost of the paper every time I get a big sheet of Archers out!

And having such topsy turvy feelings is actually a boon, practicing mindfulness means I notice the feeling and wonder where it came from and often I will paint or photograph something that illustrates the feeling – more in a post later.

And we have some wonderful vegetables this year!   I have not had time to cultivate the veggie patch for many years, ever since working full time, so that has been very rewarding and saved us a few pounds on fresh veg.   Although a glut of cucumbers is a little hard to deal with, we’ve been passing them onto anyone who will take them!

Blue cucumbers – even my veggie glut gives me inspiration and something to photograph!

So this time has been a huge gift, something I could not have foreseen. I’ve had a lot of fun!

I still have huge doubts – not that I am an artist, I got my head around that one – but that I will be able to do something with this.   I am not keen on going back to my old life in IT – but I know I need to make a living some how, at some point in a year or so.

It’s only six weeks now until I start my Masters Fine Art at the local university.   I can’t quite believe my life has taken this extraordinary turn!    To describe myself as excited is an understatement – but it is a huge unknown and I am also rather daunted.

And before then is Fareham Arts Festival where I have a few pictures on display – it would be a huge boost to sell one but I have no expectations, it is just fun to share them and I hope they go down well.

Loved the above pic I took in Portsmouth on a street photography walk recently of minions and a window cleaner!

Getting up to speed – visiting local galleries and exhibitions

In four months time I will be doing a Masters degree in Fine Art and since I have no formal art training, I need to spend the summer getting up to speed in the subject!

I would love to be able to go up to London and visit the museums and galleries regularly but finances just don’t run to it so I will have to be more inventive.   The local area has several renowned galleries and there is plenty of art on the south coast to keep me busy.

Last Friday I went off to Chichester, firstly to the lovely Pallant House Gallery and spent an hour wandering around there soaking it all up, and then I walked to the other end of the town to the University where the degree show was being held.

I have never been to an art college degree show before and it was a revelation to me.   The work was such a high standard and so interesting and varied.   I found it very inspiring that these students had produced such thoughtful and deep work – I found several exhibits very moving.

The ones that really affected me where the ones where the artist was drawing on something deeply personal for their work.

I left the exhibition and had to sit down and have a coffee before I went home.   I was feeling very emotional, the standard of the work was so high, but I wasn’t daunted, I was excited, rather over excited actually, I needed to calm down!

I felt that I really had something to contribute to this world and I cannot wait to dive in.

There are two more art colleges nearby that have their degree shows this summer, so I am really looking forward to seeing the work on display and getting more inspiration.

I would urge anyone on a budget to keep an eye on their local art college for shows, they’re free, a very high standard and very varied and interesting.  Well worth a trip!

(The picture on the blog is called “Joy2” and was done on my Samsung Galaxy Note Pro Tablet – I am having fun doing lots of digital art at the moment!).