Belinda's Bash

by Belinda Naylor-Stables, MA Design

SHOW AND SHARE. I was on holiday and visited a gallery, as you do. After I had spent some time looking at a painting the owner walked up to me and said, “Excuse me for not spending time with you, but I can tell you’re not a buyer – you’re far too interested in technique.”

I like the idea that as an artist I’m sharing techniques with other artists just by showing my work. So this month I thought I’d take a look at exhibitions that show us a thing or two – accidentally or on purpose.  I also invite you to supply local tips and suggestions for showing and sharing.

Why do you go to exhibitions?

I don’t know about you, but yes, I’m curious about materials and effects. I get in close, take my glasses off (because I’m short sighted – whereas my husband puts his on because he’s long sighted) and try to work out what’s gone on. Another gallery habit I have is to pick out three favourites and decide why I like them. I particularly enjoy going with friends and hearing their opinions. And I check whether I agree with the red dots too!

Can the way things are shown change the way you see?

The other thing I’m curious about when I visit an exhibition is the way it’s curated.  I think the way works are exhibited and linked together is important. Our recent HVA “12 Inch Square” exhibition was a great example of how to do it well.

Generally I look for a bit of ingenuity or delight and then I feel it’s good. If it has the power to transport me to another place or dimension then the exhibition becomes a total experience.

Where are there good examples of showing and sharing?

Of course Open Studios is the obvious place to show and share. But other good opportunities to see how others are doing it are coming up now…

Check out our HVA art groups: They are active if you are.

Royal College of Art (RCA): If you’re interested in the latest curation ideas then it’s worth visiting the Royal College of Art website,, the Exhibitions and Events section. In particular see what their MA Curating Contemporary Arts students are up to and what they achieve with the small exhibition budget they’re given. I intend to visit at least one of their shows this year. Their graduate event is usually in May, so we’ve missed it this year (sorry). The next one is by their first year students, 10-16 June, “Sum Parts”, Acme Project Space, 44 Bonner Road, London, E2 9JS.

If you’re more interested in Fine Arts (Painting, Photography, Printmaking and Sculpture) the RCA graduate exhibition is “Show Battersea”, 24 June – 12 July, Sculpture Building, 15-25 Howie Street, London SW11 4AS and Sackler Building, 14-22 Howie Street, London SW11 4AY and Testbed 1, 33 Parkgate Road, London SW11 4NP.

Central St Martins (CSM): I know I’m biased because this where I did my MA – but I think the graduate exhibitions here, in June and July, are worth visiting. But for fun and funky factor I particularly like their MA in Applied Imagination show which is usually in late November/early December. Featuring multidisciplinary design the exhibits can include anything and everything from architecture to flower arranging. Often in a dingy council basement or derelict warehouse (because the students pay all the exhibition costs on top of their college fees), the venue can be an adventure in its own right. It takes a bit of tracking down as each year the course students create a new website in early November. So when you find a website for this exhibition make sure it’s for 2011!

Herts University and local colleges: Local arts graduate shows are usually on in June. The University of Hertfordshire degree show covers a very wide range of fine and applied arts which is what makes it very varied and exciting: 27 May – 2 June, Art & Design Building, School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield AL10 9AB

Do you have exhibition habits the rest of us can learn from? If you have some favourite exhibitions to recommend – or there are art shows at your local college or school happening now – or you have tips for showing and sharing, please let members know when, where and why they should take up your suggestion. Do click the button below and type…


Belinda's Bash - viewing exhibitions

Interesting points from Belinda about getting the best from exhibitions and galleries. I like to draw some of the works in my running sketchbook - it's nice to look back on, compare notes with friends later and compels me to give a reasonable timespan to the work. Peter Os

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