Open Exhibition 2019
The Open Exhibition, an annual highlight in our calendar, has been a regular fixture every spring since ArtCare’s inception over 25 years ago under Emma Ryder Richardson. The exhibition showcases works by local and regional artists allowing them to exhibit in a public place – thousands of visitors pass through the hospital’s corridors every month – as well as raising funds for other ArtCare projects. Pictured above are this year’s winner Mary Fawcett, with runners up Joanne Tudor and Fred Fieber.
With over 200 works submitted from 75 artists, we have made sure the process from hand in to hanging runs smoothly. Our artist database is invaluable and means that not only can we easily send out information electronically to artists who have expressed an interest, but it’s also a lot quicker for us to log entries, notify artists of works accepted and produce the catalogue. Also vital to the process is our exhibition assistant Pam Wallington, who spends the best part of two weeks helping with the hand in, logging entries, sorting artworks, hanging the exhibition, labelling, cataloguing and assisting at the private view.
In between the hand in and hanging is of course the selection evening, where a panel made up of invited hospital staff, artists and creatives have the challenge of narrowing down the entries and picking the winners. Pam explained, “The artworks are grouped by media so similar works are judged alongside each other. There are always a lot of oil, acrylic and watercolour paintings, but we also have textiles, printmaking and photography. The panel looks for the level of skill and technique used by the artist, for example their use of colour and light, appropriate to the chosen medium. Sometimes framing can influence a decision, but creative flair is important. We select the strongest entries from among the accepted works for highly commended. The winner and runners up are decided by a voting process using post-it notes. This isn’t always easy as people have differing views, but we always reach a consensus in the end. It is an exhausting session portering all the artworks around, but I enjoy seeing the range and quality of artworks.”
Once the artworks have been selected, Lesley organises them into a coherent exhibition for the hospital corridors. Lesley commented, “It takes a while to decide how to group the different artworks so they ‘make sense’ to a viewer. There can be everything from still life to landscapes and all in varying sizes. It helps that our exhibition space is split along several sections of corridor, so each section maybe a theme, for example animals or life drawing. Our smaller pieces work best in the Medical Surgical Outpatients corridor where they can be seen closer up. The highly commended and winners always go together in the section from main reception as this is the busiest part of the corridor.”
As a winner of the Open herself back in 2001 before she joined ArtCare, Lesley admitted, “After 18 years of organising the Open Exhibition the process hasn’t altered very much. A few years back I added a Saturday hand in date to make it easier for working artists to drop off their entries or for those who prefer the hospital when it’s less busy, but I really think we have a process that is as streamlined as it can be now. More importantly, the reason the Open exhibition continues to feature in our calendar is because it creates a connection between local artists, the community and beyond. Artists continue to submit high quality work, which brightens the corridors for patients, staff and visitors. Artists gain a sense of pride that their work is on display and that the public are enjoying their art. In addition, there is always the ‘surprise’ of a sale. ArtCare also uses the exhibition as a way of seeking artists for a larger exhibition of their own along the corridors.”