Blindboys Wideyed: the story – part 3

April 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

Nil magnum nisi bonum

We’re quite proud (and justifiably too, we think) of our resourcefulness in funding BLINDBOYS WIDEYED, but while financial considerations are a necessary part of the process, money is only ever raw fuel for a project like this, not the driver, the journey, or the destination.

Our aims with this exhibition were many, and despite limited means at our disposal we believe we’ve pretty well achieved them all, and some.

In the process we were able to experiment with new (for us) methods of presenting printed works, and try out fresh ways of promoting what we were doing online (all needs a lot more development, but we made a start at least). Primarily though, we hoped to build on our previous experience with producing the Newsha Tavakolian exhibition – to continue exploring the potential of crossovers between the online and real world, creating new and fruitful links between us and photographers elsewhere, and sharing our discovery of their work with an audience local to us.

About the audience

  • Including speakers, roughly 70 people attended the North East Photography Network symposium on 12th March. Amusingly, not all of them noticed the Charli Bikaner installation, but we think most did. Charli stayed in place at the Mining Institute for a fortnight, during which time the auditorium was used for other conferences or visited by lots more people (we’ll add numbers when supplied).
  • Following the symposium, many attendees also came to the exhibition opening at 67B Westgate Road. Adding the extra people we’d invited, around 100-120 interested bodies passed through the gallery during the preview, steaming up the windows and between them drinking all the wine. That’s 24 bottles of plonk in all (well, let’s say 23, as one of us probably knocked back one of those all by herself, no prize for guessing who…).
  • From the next day until the exhibition came down on 25th March, 263 people popped in to see it, and 38 of those took the time to write some really great feedback about it on the postcards we had printed for that purpose – as we couldn’t afford to fly Blindboys over for the opening, the postcards provided anyone who wanted to a nice way of connecting directly back to them, and as soon as Blindboys tell us where to send them we’ll be sticking them all in the post.
  • As for the Mr Mahajan billboard piece, it’s impossible to guess how many people might have seen it in passing, but Forth Lane is quite a busy walkway. The really interesting thing about it though is that, while we were putting it up, the people working in the offices opposite (who all loved it) told us we’d be lucky if it remained intact more than 24 hours. We walked past it again last night though, three whole weeks after placing it there, and not a single poster has been graffitied. While there are some rips around the edges of most, they’re really minimal – it’s like people have tried to see if they could remove one so they could keep it, but as soon as they realised they couldn’t they’ve stopped, preferring to leave them in place and undamaged.

Finally, we really wanted to generate some buzz about both Blindboys and Wideyed. The degree of interest with which this project has been met by everyone we approached about it has been phenomenal. Apart from Blindboys, without whose work and trust there would have been no exhibition, we need to thank Amanda Ritson for pointing us in the direction of David Usher, Joe Price, and everyone involved with the Newcastle City Council DCLG ‘Art in Empty Spaces’ scheme, Mike Tilley and Helen Burns at Newcastle Arts Centre for billboards, coffees and company, and the Mining Institute and Lit&Phil for welcoming Charli Bikaner so heartily. But we’d especially like to thank Carol Mackay of North East Photography Network, whose enthusiasm throughout was so encouraging and empowering (and slightly intoxicating).

And now what? Well, Mr Mahajan will remain in place until mid-April. More importantly though, Blindboys will be showing our work with theirs on the streets of Mumbai sometime, and we’re really excited about that! After which, who knows?

All goes to show though – some great things can come of good ideas.

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