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?

13 comments:

FTL said...

What a sad story. Every quote about the gallery by university staff is almost entirely management speak, with no sense that they have any enthusiasm for it. I think your concern about the future of the People's Show is well founded.

Bill

Anonymous said...

Harry,
Like the painting a lot! A new one?
What's a ligger?
Kev

harry bell said...

I'm afraid you're probably right, Bill, and the city has lost a popular and dynamic gallery.

harry bell said...

Kev - 2007, if I remember correctly. Ligger : "An individual who attends parties, openings, social gatherings and events with the sole intention of obtaining free food and drink - an arch blagger. Popularised by the NME in the early nineties and possibly with it's entomological roots in the fishing term for "baited line"."

AndyZ said...

I could not attend the private view due to transport issues but I saw your painting there, Harry, and liked it very much.

harry bell said...

Thanks, Andy. Good of you to let me know.

AndyZ said...

As someone who had not contributed to previous shows and had no idea what to expect, it was very interesting to read your comparison. Cheers for giving me that insight.

harry bell said...

When I collected my painting at the end of the show, I asked if it was likely there'd be another next year. "Oh, I do hope so", was the reply.

AndyZ said...

Would you contribute again, Harry? I think I would but try to take a bigger painting next time. My choice of what to take was partly governed by having no personal transport from way out in the sticks. I had to be able to carry it on the coach, and couldn't even take it in on the right day (which was a Friday)as the coach only goes on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Hence, I couldn't go to the private view either. I had three coach trips, one to deliver, one to see the exhibition and one to collect. And my painting was one of the smallest there, so perhaps easily passed over.

harry bell said...

Given that there are very few exhibition opportunities in the north east now, I probably would submit again. In the past I've always submitted something around three feet square, been accepted and in most cases, sold. This year I had nothing ready that size, so opted for the largest, most appropriate I had.

I have a similar problem to yours: I have no personal transport. I don't drive, have never driven. So I rely on public transport too, but at least I don't have far to go to Newcastle. If I avoid rush hour, I can get a three foot square canvas on the bus fairly easily. What I lack now is the space to store canvases that size, so whatever happens next year, I may have to submit on a smaller scale again.

AndyZ said...

Having done it the once, I'm sure I could take a larger painting next time. Size shouldn't matter, and they did put my picture on a small wall of it's own, so I felt it was well placed. It helped, I think, that it had the strongest red there, which drew the eye when you turned the corner into the upstairs gallery. Still, I had quite a few other, larger paintings I could have chosen to submit. I've never driven either which is sometimes inconvenient living so far out into the countryside.

I still felt it was worth doing, so hope it will return next year.

harry bell said...

I don't recall your painting, I'm afraid, but I can cite my red/green deficient eyesight as reason enough, I think.

Anyway, good luck with any future submissions.

AndyZ said...

Not to worry, I must admit I didn't remember either of the two that shared The People's Choice. Good luck to you too. I hope to see more of your work if they do any more shows.