Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
Two years after first applying to the Brewery Arts Centre, my first solo exhibition 'Deluge' is finally up on the walls and open to the public! This project (as some of you may know) is actually the work I created for my final year of university back in 2016. During my last few months as a student we were all being encouraged by our tutors to get involved in as much activity as possible outside of uni to help prepare us for life after graduating. One of the steps I took to get more involved was applying to exhibit my work in my lovely hometown of Kendal. My first thought was the Brewery - with 'arts centre' literally in its name and numerous exhibitions always on show it seemed like the obvious choice, so I entered my email submission and eagerly awaited a reply.
A few weeks later I was told my work would be shown at the next committee meeting and they would decide whether or not to run the show. I nervously waited another few weeks until finally I got my answer - they loved it! A few months then went by where I didn't hear much and when I eventually managed to get back in touch with the Brewery team I was told there would be no free exhibition space until early 2018 - two whole years away! Initially I was disappointed - I would have rather shown my work earlier to keep it fresh and relevant, and move on to new work by the time 2018 came around. However, having to wait a while gave me more time to plan how to mount and frame my work, and also gave me time to save up money to do so.
So a year went by with not much said about the exhibition until mid 2017 when I contacted the Brewery again for more details. Over the last few months of 2017 everything started to happen - I was given exhibition dates, diagrams of the room to plan what size frames to hang, I started choosing what images to show, and I also started advertising on Facebook and spreading the word as early as possible. However, things went slightly pear shaped after Christmas - I found out the room I would be hanging my work in was getting re-decorated which meant I had to push back the opening date. This ended up happening two or three times as the decorating was never finished when it was supposed to be, and I started to get really frustrated. I was losing out on precious weeks of exhibition time and people started questioning why I kept changing the date. Those who lived away and wanted to come for the open evening were unable to make plans and I didn't know what to tell people as it was really unclear when the work would definitely be up.
Earlier this week I finally got the all clear and the work was hung on Tuesday night, so I quickly organised an open evening for that following Thursday (last night). Despite the fact everything was quite last minute in the end, the opening night went really well and a lot more people showed up that I had expected! It helped that there was a show on in the Malt Room that same evening so while people were waiting to go in they were wandering around and having a look at my work.
Friends, family and even two of my old teachers from 6th form came to help me celebrate my first ever solo exhibition (hopefully the first of many)! It was a really great evening and the newly decorated room looks lovely, so after all the hassle it was worth the wait! The simplicity of my images seem to compliment the minimalist design of the room and overall I'm really happy with how it looks. I spread some business cards around the tables and also had my book being passed around for people to flick through with loads of guests wanting to talk and ask questions about the work which was lovely. With the new bar open at the back of the room guests could easily get drinks and wander around at their own leisure and it made a really nice atmosphere.
At about 9pm the evening started to wind down and guests began to leave, and by 9.30pm I was left alone with my work to take a few photos before heading home. I don't often feel proud of myself and struggle to see the positives of my own work, but on this occasion I can safely say I am proud. After years of hard work at uni, months of struggling in my final year not knowing what direction to take my project, then a long wait until my exhibition actually opened, it felt amazing to finally stand at look at my images framed and on the wall for everyone to see! All the blood, sweat and tears (quite literally) were worth it and I hope to get some more exhibitions up in the future. Now I know what I am capable of who knows what could happen!
Thanks to everyone who came last night to support me, thanks to the Brewery for deciding to run the exhibition, and thanks to Jamie for hanging the work and answering all my questions along the way!
For those who couldn't make the opening night (or for anyone who wants to go back and see it again!) my work will be up until 24th February 2018. It's located in the Intro Bar (next to the Box Office) of the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal - it's free to enter the exhibition and all images are for sale, with a book of the project also available to buy online.
For more information about 'Deluge' or to purchase your copy of the book please visit www.alicewillsphotography.com/deluge