Review of “Collections – Connections”, Haslemere Museum, May 2012 by Susan Chapman
When I arrived at the museum the work in the reception area was a good indicator of what I would find in the main gallery. I think it could possibly have been missed by visitors and it was not until I spoke to the stewards that I fully realised that it was a specific challenge to the group which was separate from the rest of the work, a good idea that was picked up by a large number of the membership.
The initial impression when I walked into the main gallery was that there was a huge amount of work. The space was bright with both natural and electric light, and with the exception of a couple of pieces in the centre stands, all work could be seen well. It was good to see that this was a real group exhibition with most of the membership taking part, bravo to the organisers for catching the group’s imagination.
Most of the hanging boards were about six feet high and in the main the work was hung well, with the centre of the boards being aligned with the centre of the work, which was about eye level so the overall view was excellent. Having said this I think the labelling was an issue. I appreciate that with so much work it was difficult to be consistent but at times it was definitely confusing and too obtrusive. If there was no room to label consistently and unobtrusively, then had the team thought of a simple number system with three or four laminated lists for the viewer to take round with them? That way where one persons work was split over several locations the numbers could have been grouped in the list under the artists’ name. I think this is a terribly difficult subject and highly subjective, but I imagine that pieces were moved during the hanging of such a complex exhibition, which put the labelling out (do get someone to check spelling as well) .
I enjoyed the storytelling in several pieces of work, notably Anne Wilson’s Flugeworthy Chronicles and the work of Juliet Ayer. Several artists have had some fun with their work, Mavis Walker with her sisters’ portraits, and Vera Gilbert’s boats were a delight, and what a wonderful way to present a collection of buttons by Peta Pollard. There was some exquisite stitch on display with Jule Mallet’s excellent samples and Cathy Griffiths delightful embroideries, the subtlety of stitch displayed in Margaret Cartland Glover’s Winter Meadows pieces was fabulous. I feel I must mention the conceptual artistry of Consuelo Simpson as well, her work is simple and stylish and beautifully presented.
A final general note to the whole group is to take pride in your work, very few of you signed your work, I am sure you look for the signature on paintings? Please also watch your framing, you have spent hours on your wonderful stitch please do spend money on the framing, and if it is supposed to be a triptych then please do frame them in a similar way. Give space around the work with a mount and use a double mount or float in a box frame to prevent the glass touching the work.
Your exhibition is a great advert for the Wey Valley workshop, the whole group is obviously engaged and the committee is certainly to be commended for organising such a successful event. I look forward to visiting the next one.