Friday, 15 January 2016
The People's Show
London Millennium Bridge
(oil on canvas, 20 x 20 in)
I went to the Private View of the troubled People's Show at the Northumbria Gallery last night and must say I have no problem with the hanging of my painting; it's in the downstairs gallery, on the far wall staring at anyone who comes through the door.
Overall, however, I couldn't help feeling the exhibition was a lacklustre affair. No doubt because of uncertainties about the exhibition even taking place, following the shameful dismissal of Mara-Helen Wood and her staff, there were only around 70 submissions. Out of those, thirty-five were chosen for the show. A high proportion of these are photographs (I'm still a bit sniffy about photographs in an art exhibition. So bite me.) and the rest were, well, by and large, OK paintings. There were some good portraits, but it puzzled me to find that one person had two portrait paintings in the show and another had three. Maybe I misremember - were we allowed to enter more than one painting?
The attendees were what I might expect from a university show - mainly students and liggers. Gone were the people with cheque books who would have bought work at previous People Shows (I've often done well there). I was pleased to find a couple of friends there to have a chat with, even if one conversation was interrupted by the prizewinner unexpectedly hitting on my friend's daughter. Tsk tsk.
I came away with the feeling that the show was put on because the new regime found they'd taken over the Gallery with some submissions already in place and invitation forms distributed all over town. Cancel the show, hand back the submission fees (and the donation from the late Norman Cornish's family)? Or go ahead with an exhibition you don't really care for? I think I know what I'd do, but maybe I'm being unfair. Only time will tell: will there be another People's Show next year?