After the 'B' Exhibition: looking back & forward

After the 'B' Exhibition: looking back & forward

4 weeks went by in a flash, after many months of building up to the 'B' Exhibition. I’ve recapped the opening night already, and it remains a key highlight. We also enjoyed our Artists’ Talk and the Devonshire Tea that concluded the exhibition.

Devonshire tea to conclude the Art Exhibition - vintage tea cups and scones among the art

During the show I painted a bokeh night streetscape in the gallery one day each week. Some days were busy and some quiet. I took the opportunity to take a number of photographs to document the event during this quiet time – and of course to paint!

Artistic Synergy

Lynn and I became more aware as the exhibition progressed just how much synergy there was between our art – and us as artists. It may surprise people to know we didn’t know each other that well before deciding to exhibit together. As we planned the event and each worked independently on the art, we realised there was going to be a great pairing of our art in terms of theme - for example, we both had pieces featuring trees, flowers and water.

Later we started reflecting on the differences between our art – the soft, abstracting blur of my bokeh oil paintings and the intricate detail of Lynn’s tea-bag based art. And then again we were brought back together, in particular by the way we captured trees and the passage of light through the canopy.

Artists' Talk

A visitor walks through the exhibition in Invercargill admiring the tree bokeh paintings

At our Artists Talk I spoke about Forest Bathing – a Japanese prescription called ‘Shinrin Yoku’. We are so thankful to visitors who shared the Japanese term ‘Komorebi’ with us too – the shining of light through trees, and a beautiful quote from Gerard Manly Hopkins: “Glory be to God for dappled things.”

The Artists’ Talk was a great opportunity to think and talk through the background to our art-making and why we do what we do. I connected the dots – for the first time! – between my past life as a Geographer (all about how populations occupy and are affected by spaces) and Public Health practitioner (how environments impact the wellbeing of communities) and now as an artist (how art makes us feel, the practice of making art and connecting with art can enhance our wellbeing and how art shapes our spaces). Can you see the connection too?

Exhibition Debrief

During an Exhibition debrief live on Instagram (watch it here) last night, I presented Lynn with a book filled with photos from the Exhibition and some meaningful words. I’m looking forward to having my copy on my coffee table in my (soon-to-be) new studio/gallery for visitors to flick through. We also discussed some of our favourite moments and some suggestions for anyone embarking on their own exhibition.

Coffee table book with art and photos from the B exhibition held by Bokeh artist Mel and Tea bag artist Lynn

Highlights/would do again:

  • Photographer to capture the opening night,
  • Mulled wine (get the recipe),
  • Media releases gave us exposure beyond our own networks (here and here),
  • Giving the Artists’ Talk,
  • Engaging with other art events on in the city,
  • Painting/spending time in the gallery,
  • Co-exhibiting – was great to do this together and way less scary than a solo!

For next time:

  • A visitor book to capture the thoughts of visitors

What now?

The ending of the exhibition brought with it a strange uncertainty. Going back to sharing art on social media and occasional group exhibitions here and there didn’t quite seem enough anymore. I read something about thinking of the period of time after an event, not as an ending, but instead as an in-between. This was really helpful – even when we don’t know what’s next, it’s comforting to know that there is more.

To let you in on a wee secret: Lynn and I are also talking about exhibiting together again – perhaps somewhere else in NZ – with a new body of paintings that correspond to that place - wherever it may be! We are following up some ideas, though we’d welcome any suggestions you might have about a good place for us to showcase our work.

Find our work

The few remaining pieces from the 'B' Exhibition are now on our respective websites: my bokeh oil paintings are here and Lynn's teabag art is here

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