online...onsite...artgallery...theViewergallery is an area and arena devised by artist Eleanor MacFarlane for various online, onsite and popup art projects, a platform for enterprises, artworks and sometime collaborations with other artists. Occasional and recurring projects include theLongLine ongoing drawing events, theProgressiveImage explorations of moving image, Crucial Pursuit! the financial planning game for artists and Absolute Magnitude travelling postcard project.
Absolute Magnitude is an international travelling art project. It started as an idea in exhibition collaboration between MA fine art students, studying online with the Open College of the Arts, and largely coincided with the launch of theViewergallery itself.
Absolute Magnitude is
the measure of a celestial object's intrinsic brightness, or an expression of a
It allows the true brightnesses of objects to
be compared without regard to distance.
Artists contributed a piece to this travelling exhibition, which was sent as a package to each other to show in any display or exhibition context. The brief was that the piece was postcard size, and upon the given theme.
Documentation would only be revealed to each other at the end of the project. There have now been two rounds of the Absolute Magnitude project - Sun 2011-12 and Earth 2014.
Absolute Magnitude II Earth comprised multiple pieces and has the potential for multiple responses. With different formatting and organisation, such travelling exhibitions, inventive displays in gallery, domestic or work settings, allows art to be created without regard to distance, much like the online learning experience.
This travelling exhibition project has survived considerable mishaps, including the loss of all the works at sea. Still, the connections were made and sets of ideas travelled all around the world through the hands of diverse artists, approaches, settings and audiences.
Full reports and the other artists responses to follow.
Absolute Magnitude II Earth
I went to Tate Britain in London on 14th of March 2014, with the intention of finding the right place for each card. I was looking for visual matches, interesting juxtapositions and parallels, in order to interpret and contextualise both the postcards and the exhibits in new ways. The project was not without its audience as some visitors asked me what I was doing, and one woman in particular was intrigued, and so I showed her some of the images in progress.
I realised that many possible connections could be made, contextually, literally, and through form or colour. It’s always tricky to line things up and take what you see. I also thought of the location of each artist and hoped they might get a kick out of seeing their work in such a venue and related to works they may never visit.
Debjani Bhardwaj Earth postcard Free Fall 2014 with John Michael Wright Astraea Returns to Earth c.1660
Mark Daniels Earth postcard Safe Harbor 2014 with Kurt Schwitters Relief in Relief 1942-5
Jane Dudley Earth postcard Houston You Have a Problem 2014 with Joseph Mallord William Turner The Parting of Hero and Leander exhibited 1837
Judith Farr Earth postcard 2014 with David Bomberg The Mud Bath 1914
Roshni Goonraj Beeharry Earth postcard 2014 with Johan Zoffany Three Sons of John, 3rd Earl of Bute c.1763-4
Alex Kershaw Earth postcard [C]on-tour 2014 with Bridget Riley Hesitate 1964
Eleanor MacFarlane Earth postcard Dust 2014
with Martin Creed Work no 227 The lights going on and off 2000
Rosi Robinson Earth postcard 2014 with Henry Moore Draped Seated Figure 1957-8
Angela Rogers Earth postcard Occupied Earth 2013 with John Martin The Plains of Heaven 1851-3
Jilliene Sellner Earth postcard 2014
with William Lionel Wyllie Toil, Glitter, Grime and Wealth on a Flowing Tide 1883
Absolute Magnitude I Sun
I collected several other postcards with views of the sun, a couple new, some from the family, and others vintage – the earliest is from 1910. I wanted to link these with the MA work using a visual theme, and show all within the context of sun postcards. When the packet arrived, my original plan of showing everything in a plain black frame didn’t look effective, and so I chose a large painted board – an abstract painting I had done some years ago. I matched the cards visually to the colours beneath. I wanted to create an artwork rather than a display, to create visual relationships between all the pieces, so that they could be read in different ways, and to give some sense of time and how collections become historical. The board was mounted on a large easel and shown at theViewergallery one day launch, in the Original Gallery, London, October 2011. About a hundred people saw it. The best reaction was an older lady, who drew up a chair and spent a full half hour in front of it, totally engrossed and fascinated.
Sometimes theViewergallery sleeps and dreams.
While Eleanor is away busy elsewhere, theViewergallery plans its next projects.
Sometimes it applies for funding, but it hasn't been lucky yet.
When Eleanor finishes her MA perhaps theViewergallery will wake up a bit more.
There are screenings and exhibitions and projects and drawings and ideas to make and do and see.
Crucial Pursuit is a Financial Planning Game for Artists and Art Students. It is a debating and discussion tool which is designed to enable Artists to think through various circumstances, decisions and consequences they will come across in their Art careers. All of the situations are derived from real experiences in negotiating the Artworld, and many recur throughout an Artists’ career, no matter how mature or established they may become.
Financial decisions can make or break Art projects and personal budgets, and Artists are no different, no more or less financially educated than the rest of the population – except they tend to be extremely resourceful in their practice. This means there is a great source of creativity to tap into, but this is sometimes inhibited by an enormous amount of received information and advice. Artists have high expectations of themselves, and often want to fulfil the expectations of others, viewers and Art professionals, in order to be seen as professional and credible. Naturally this does not always mean that the best solution is the one with the biggest budget. Equally, it is sometimes appropriate to invest in the highest possible production values in order to deliver an Art project successfully. Sometimes it needs to be gold and sometimes it needs to be cardboard.
Crucial Pursuit acts as a forum for Artists to examine their responses, consider alternatives, and swap real experiences and anecdotes, to embed flexibility in financial choices and thinking. Artists tend to take on the costs of their practice from their personal budget, and so while pursuing an established practice, unwise spending and poor decisions can spread into and hinder all areas of life.
There is always an alternative. There is always a way of thinking which can make Art ideas happen. Money does not always equate to creativity, and it makes sense to be prepared, to think flexibly and to be resourceful so that financial and Artistic decisions are considered and not compromised.
Eleanor MacFarlane/theViewergallery's top tips on setting up a popup gallery: Ask for free space: I have negotiated free or reduced rates for gallery hire in the past. If you're enthusiastic and can add value to the gallery by having a pop up day, they will help you out – I have even been given staff for free for the day.
Be patient: There's nothing wrong with smaller organisations waiting a bit until the next generation of things become cheaper. Let the large funded places invest in developing digital tech first. As long as you keep up with Twitter, Facebook, blogging and so on, tailor-made apps can come later. There are free online QR code generators to at least appear being up to date – it's a better contrast to have the gallery a bit old fashioned while the art is cutting edge. Public Liability Insurance: If you are artists or curators popping up, join AIR at Artists Newsletter:
It's mutually beneficial, and you get to be part of their publicity while you bring in new audiences for them. Logistics and Layout of Gallery: I'd say shamelessly steal best practice ideas seen in various galleries and other venues. We should all do that!
Adapt ways of presenting according to what you have. Galleries often have a resource table of books, etc, now - great idea which even a measly popup can replicate. And definitely have seats available when screening video.
had been invited as the inaugural artist in a new venture, The Art Shed, set up
by Mel Hardwick who runs the Freespace Gallery in Kentish Town, London. The Art
Shed was set up for the day on the Art Street, part of a festival organised by Mel, on Sunday 27May 2012.
Setting up in a
temporary space requires trialling and anticipation, and flexible solutions
which can adapt to changing conditions. Wherever the plank goes, theViewergallery
exists, and there are additional reproductions of the plank in various sizes as
signs. We brought everything – stands, easels, tables, a ladder, fixtures and
fittings, adding to theViewergallery’s store of stuff.
Despite being a
baking hot day, over 100 people spent time in theViewergallery shed, viewing
the screening and reading the books. There is reasonable space for two to view,
but at times there were four.
The stream of
visitors had much to say about the films, enjoying the variety, and also asking
further questions about the artists, and about theViewergallery set up.
The screening had
been selected from a call for work, and further edited to a maximum of three
minute excerpts. The whole screening was ten minutes, which is a long time to
spend in a shed. I had made a further curatorial decision to show two films
together, including their soundtracks. They were Moving Image of train
journeys, through Berlin and Moscow. The effect together, both still with their
soundtracks, was mesmerising.
McKellar. 48 Hours in Moscow. Animation still. 2010
Fossey. Berlin – The Space Between. Digital video still. 2010
The audience also
enjoyed the weird humour of Shared Stuff, where items move between different
split screens, and the cartoon figures in Leaders of Men. They were suitably
disconcerted by the insects piece with the alien-sounding music.
Ahlberg. Shared stuff. Digital video still. 2010
Kelham. Leaders of Men. Animation still. 2010
MacFarlane. X4. Digital video still. 2006
The theme of
Multitude linked the pieces in split screens, with works with two, three and
four simultaneous frames, and multiplicitous views, and with morphing
characters within one frame.
I had trialled the
screening in bright light, which was just as well, as the heat made closing the
door and attempting a dark space impossible. The screening was still clear and
visible even while battling direct sunlight.
shop project was set up, a set of fold-out cabinets.
theViewergallery had a busy, eventful and successful day, making new friends
and fans. Despite many opportunities for things going wrong or blowing away,
everything went well, and the screening was enjoyed by an appreciative audience.