Putting Nelson's artistic talent in the frame
Rather than exhibiting the artwork of Nelson artists, a group of students studying at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, are exhibiting photographs of the artists themselves. The result is 36, an exhibition with a difference.
"Our project brief was a simple one; we requested artists to send us a black and white photographic self- portrait which we would display in G-Space - as a visual cluster of Nelson's creativity, " says student Chrissie Cleary.
All group members are bachelor of arts and media students who are required to curate an exhibition as part of their professional practice assignment. Through this experience they will learn how to organise and install an exhibition of their own choosing, including liasing with the artists, sponsorship, marketing, posters, as well as opening night. At the end of the exhibition the students must pack everything away, leaving the gallery in pristine condition.
" The Nelson community has been really supportive, from Lloyd Harwood at Arts Council Nelson, who has been so encouraging, to sponsorship from Creative Communities Nelson, Fresh Choice Richmond, and Liquor King, " says group member Francis Dick.
Another student in the group, Gertrud Kaiser, adds: "Lots of people promised to send in a photo then never did. It's harder than you think to take a photo of yourself.
"When we first talked about the project with reporter Anna Pearson, she challenged us to try taking our own black and white portraits, so we did. I thought it would be really easy, but you kind of judge yourself, it was really hard, " adds fourth group member, Dennah Lloyd.
Dick and Cleary used computer programme Picasa to manipulate the images, by randomly overlaying sampled images onto and around the portraits, resulting in intriguing layered portraits of the artists. Dick says: "The beauty of Picasa is if you don't like what it turns out you can just change it again. It was amazing to use and see what the images ended up like."
They got 36 artists on board, and have created 60 images, with artists appearing two or three times with different manipulations over their portrait. They also have a large format slide show screening the original images that artists sent in.
"Part of the challenge of the show is for the audience to look at the originals and then our portraits and try to match them up. They have to do a bit of work themselves, which is fun, " says Dick.
They all agree that curating an exhibition is a lot more complex than they imagined but see the tremendous value of applying what they have learnt to their own art practice in the future. " It brings into focus exactly what it means to be 'out there' promoting my own work, " says Cleary. "I've learnt communication is the key, and setting a cut-off date for things to be done is very important to establish at the beginning, " adds Lloyd.