Installing Your Exhibition
Installation day is finally here. My adrenalin is high and I’m all excited about this day – my solo show is finally going to go up. Thank God it was a cool September morning not a hot summer day. Because oh how so uncomfortable it’d have been on a hot summer day with these high levels of adrenaline. 🙂
But seriously, the weather could have been anything and I surely wouldn’t have noticed. I was pumped!!
Installing your exhibition is when all the preparatory work you’ve done for the show gets seen by the public. So it will surely be a big day for you just as it was for me.
To get your art exhibition on the road, you first need to get your artwork to the venue, right? If it’s at all possible and safe, then load up your vehicle several hours before you need to leave for the gallery.
Because it may take longer than you estimated to load up your vehicle. You’ll need to arrange, rearrange and then arrange again all the pieces of artwork into your vehicle. (ask me how I know).
Remember that your artwork is not all you’ll need for installing your exhibition. You’ll also need some tools to get the job done. You should prepare your toolbox and the tools that go into it prior to installation day.
Get the Right Tools for Installing Your Exhibition
By now you must know how much I love lists. So it shouldn’t surprise you to know that I kept a list of all the tools that I felt would be necessary for installing my exhibition.
Those tools that I didn’t have use of in my daily studio practice, I put them away in the toolbox for installation day. Those that I was constantly using, I kept on my list. The night before installation, I made sure everything on my list was in my toolbox ready to be packed into my vehicle.
Now when you arrive at the venue, you may be given a limited time within which to hang or install your artwork. We had exactly two hours between the time we were allowed in, to the time the restaurant opened to finish hanging my work. So we needed to be very efficient with our time.
Create Visually Pleasing Groups of Work
To get things started, we put all the artwork on tables so we could easily see them. This helps with the next step. That is to create visually pleasing groupings for installing your exhibition on the walls. It also helps you save tons of time. You don’t want to hang your work, take them down and hang them again.
So. if possible, spread out all the pieces of your work on several tables. Then stand back to take a look at them from a distance.
Next start to put together groups of work that have a common theme. Look for themes of color, pattern, shapes, subject matter and variety in artwork sizes.
Now, you’ll want to place each table of groupings in front of the walls where you plan to hang them.
Better still if your work is framed and you can stand them on the floor, then stand them on the floors next to walls you plan to hang them. Again, step back and take a look at how they look.
You Have a Good Flow When Installing Your Exhibition
Your utmost intention when installing your exhibition is to have a good flow of your artwork. So do a panoramic scan of the walls, from one end to the other to see if you’ve got a good flow going.
Think about the flow and the relationship between the pieces. When one set of grouping ends, does it transition softly into another set of grouping?
Try to tell a story with the arrangement if you can. Move things around until you’re completely satisfied with how they look and flow into each other. Only then will you be ready for installing your exhibition.
Your excellent preparation of your toolbox finally comes in handy here. Because now you’re finally ready to begin installing your exhibition.
All Artwork on the Walls Should Be Level
In part 3 of this series, I talked about how much distance you should have between the pieces you hang on the walls. Also, this article gives you an easy way to calculate what the distance from the floor to the center of each piece should be.
You’ll need your nails, plumb line, picture hooks, or hanging rods to hang the work. You must make sure each piece you hang is level.
Finally, stand back and take a good look at the pieces on the walls. Again, ask yourself if you have a good flow going. Are you satisfied?
Here’s a piece of advice for you.
Err on the side of having less rather than more pieces on the walls when installing your exhibition.
It is tempting to want to show all your work that you prepared for the show. But the patrons of the show will appreciate each piece much better if there’s enough “breathing space” around them So don’t fall into the trap of overcrowding the walls when you’re installing your exhibition.
Now you can breathe a sigh of relief and go get ready for your opening reception. Congrats on installing your exhibition. You did it.
What do you find most pleasing when you see an exhibition that has been well installed? Can’t wait to hear your comments.
You may also be interested in the other titles in this series:
1: Planning for Your Solo Show
2: Curating Your Solo Show
3: Laying out Your Artwork
4: How to Promote Yor Solo Show
5: How to Write a Press Release
6: Installing/ Hanging Your Art Show
7. Opening Reception