Sparks poster design: Joanna Passos
The exhibition involved a group of fifteen first year MFA students, and took place at Legge Studios - a small metal workshop in Lewisham run by three Camberwell alumni. Collaboration was key in first envisioning the exhibition - from the regular group meetings and delegating amongst the participating artists in the planning process, to the goal of community engagement with the local schools and residents of the Lewisham area, and to the fact of Legge Studios being a Camberwell alumni endeavor.
In retrospect we could have benefited from having a more experienced idea of what a conducive gallery space entails. While non-'white cube' and unorthodox spaces remain appealing, both for their potential cost-effectiveness and how these spaces change and are changed by the work itself, I do not believe that we adequately researched Legge Studios prior to taking on the project as a group. For example, paying better attention to the quality of the building infrastructure and walls, accounting for bad weather, and planning the public transport access for visitors and the participants themselves could have greatly streamlined the process.
Crucially, dealings in the future with exhibition spaces or outsourced labor need to be protected through written contracts that allow for the partial payment of any fees throughout the exhibition process, as opposed to a lump sum paid prior to any work being done. This was naivety on our parts in assuming that Legge Studios longstanding friendship with one of our participating artists would be enough to guarantee the agreed terms of the collaboration between our group and Legge Studios. Unfortunately this backfired somewhat in that our group did not have any effective recourse to prevent some of the unprofessionalism from Legge Studios throughout the process.
By unprofessionalism I am referring in part to consistent communication issues on the part of Legge Studios, something that we will hopefully be more attuned to in the planning of any future projects. These issues included: a disregard of emails, phone calls, and messages sent from our group to Legge Studios in the days leading up to, during, and after the exhibition. This extended as far as Legge Studios not notifying us whatsoever when, due to an apparent change of transport company the night before, the van had to arrive at WCA more than two hours late. The same issue arose when the day before the private view, one of the three main gallery spaces of Legge Studios sprung significant leaks from its walls, and ended up threatening one of the artists' works.
From a personal point of view, I was responsible for installing the exhibition along with three of the Legge Studios owners. This had been agreed upon weeks before the exhibition but, when it came time to install the work, only one of the Legge Studios owners was around to help. While ultimately this put me in a position to adapt many new skills when it comes to installation, something that has been a consistent and welcome journey since being on the MFA, the workload in this case was unavoidably overwhelming.