Friday, 27 September 2013

~ MWYA Random Ramblings: Exhibition Basics ~

Random Ramblings : Exhibition Basics 

Hello there! 
Welcome to Mean Who You Are's Random Ramblings post. This will be a post where I can ramble about any topic that I feel needs to attention and also to help create some awareness from time to time. 

I have been wanting to write this post for a while about Exhibition Basics, but life has been a little bit hectic! I am sure I am not the only one who has has a few questions about Art and Photography Exhibitions, so I decided to Interview a friend of mine, Cedric Vanderlinden who will be opening his own Fine Arts Gallery next month, Underculture Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery

Last month I attended a photography exhibition for the first time and I loved it, yet I had quite a few questions. In helping create awareness, here are some of the basics below:

Here is the link to my previous exhibition post: 
Seeing Things by Karl Schoemaker

Where can you find out about Exhibitions in PE?
A good place to start is ArtEC in Bird Street but, generally, any of the serious galleries (GFI, ART, Underculture, ArtEC, the Athenaeum) will know what’s going on at any of the other venues and will be able to advise you.
 And, of course, last but not least (the most important, in fact):

What are the goals of hosting exhibitions for artists?
Artists exhibit for two main purposes. The first is to develop their name. This is, essentially, a marketing excursive where artists get to show what they are doing. Exhibitions aren't just simply shows, they are a statement (a bit like publishing a book) about where the artist is right now. A good exhibition should be something bold, new, and fresh. It should be a statement. 
Secondly, artists hope to sell their work too, but this goes hand-in-hand with the first type of exhibition (you can’t sell if no one knows about you and so on). The best shows, of course, do both but for most artists, they should approach each exhibit with one or the other frame of mind.

I also recommend looking at Wikipedia:

Photo by Karl Schoemaker
So, in Port Elizbeth, we (artists and galleries alike) need the public to come and see. An artwork that no one sees is useless. Even if the public hates it, artists need feedback and need to interact with their community and their audience. The artists and galleries often go to great expenses to put on these shows (exhibiting isn't cheap), and so they hope that people will come and see.

What is the cover entrance fee? 
There is no fee. And this goes hand-in-hand with what I discussed above: the artists and galleries put money out of their own pocket to put on shows, and these shows are free. And they do that because they believe that the show is important, relevant, interesting, stimulating, and so on. But we need a public that’s willing to come and see. Galleries are open to everyone – you don’t need to ‘understand’ art to attend. Artists and gallery staff are always (ALWAYS) willing to talk about their work, to engage with the public and discuss. There are no stupid questions. And the public should be encouraged to ask (in art-speak: ‘to engage with the artwork’)

Photo by Karl Schoemaker
Importantly, exhibition openings are in the early evening (generally around 18:00) and some galleries (like mine, for example) are open later. This makes it a perfect 1st stop on a date or a night out. You want to impress, I mean really impress your date? Take them to an exhibition first, and then go to the restaurant… It’s the way that it works in overseas. Visiting galleries is a pastime and often leads to stimulating discussions later.
Similarly, children are naturally curious and fascinated by pictures and art. If parents are looking for free entertainment that educates and stimulates, taking children to galleries is a perfect place to start. For that, we highly recommend the Fine Arts Museum on Park Drive. In fact, that’s something that is missing sorely in Port Elizabeth: children in art museums and galleries. In Brussels, where I come from, the art museums always have school children in them.

Karl & myself sitting in front of
my favorite photo at his exhibition
How often are exhibitions held?  
That really does depend on the type of gallery and the art that is shown. As I mentioned, exhibitions are expensive and take a lot of work to put together, and artists need to work (sometimes for years) before they have a ‘body of work’ (more art-speak) to exhibit. As such, exhibits tend to be once a month, if not less. On average, you can expect between 8 and 12 exhibits a year from each gallery. ArtEC is a notable exception because they are so active in the art community.

I hope you have found this post as interesting as I have! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment!



  1. I love photo and art exhibits. They are my guilty pleasure. Thanks for the info.

    1. They are awesum and so much fun! Its a pleasure, I am so glad you enjoyed this post :)

  2. We have been very fortunate to have lived near some of the nicest art exhibits.

    1. That is awesum :) I hope to attend more in the near future :)


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