Lifting the Curtain – update 20th July 2014

Posted on July 20, 2014


I have continued to work on my East London project  now called ‘Lifting the Curtain’. I am pretty well advanced and have reached a stage where I have decided to open a dialogue with Toynbee Hall in East London about the possibility of staging an exhibition in conjunction with them (preferably on their premises). The aims of this would be to create an audience for my work and at the same time raising money for them.

Throughout his survey in the late 1800s, Charles Booth used Toynbee Hall Settlement as his headquarters. Several of Booth’s ‘secretaries’ were from the settlement. Toynbee Hall is still going strong today and its vision remains ‘To eradicate all forms of poverty’.

I have had an initial conversation with them and introduced myself. The good news is that they were open to discuss the possibility. The bad news is that I am clearly not top of their priority list, which is absolutely understandable. However, we have agreed to speak further in August when they will have more time to listen to what I have to say.

My idea is to stage an exhibition with the aim of selling prints, posters and a small catalogue book. I will pay for all the printing and so on and will give the prints, posters and books to Toynbee for them to sell, with my help and assistance naturally. The exact nature and scope of the exhibition has yet to be determined, if indeed it does go ahead. I have also yet to review the idea of using the work as a fundraiser with my tutor – it is possible that she may feel that this compromises the artistic integrity of the work in some way (I have a slight concern about this myself).

I have started to think about how I will present the work to Toynbee. I have a set of prints of my work so far, including some A2 size image/text panels which I will show them. I have also drafted out the form of the catalogue/book – this will be a small soft back square book. I have in the past opened up discussions with the velvet cell, see here, about printing. They were talking about a print run of some 300 which seems much too large for my requirements. I will talk to them some more about this but it seems most likely that the book will be a Blurb book. The poster(s) will in effect advertise the event and I will design these when the nature of the exhibition is clarified….I hope!!

As a possible budget for the work, I am thinking about the following:

8 framed prints – I will print, mount and frame these myself and have located a relatively inexpensive source of black wooden frames/mounts – cost per framed print (600mm x 500mm) will be around £40. So total cost to me would be some £300.

10 window mounted prints – again I will print and mount these myself, so cost will be around £10 per print with a total cost of £100.

50 posters, 30 for sale and 20 for advertising the event – these will cost around £100 depending on quality of the print.

30 copies of the book/catalogue from Blurb – Approximate cost is £12 per copy incl. VAT and bulk discount plus £30 delivery charge. In total this adds up to around £400.

So all in all it is an expensive venture – around £900. I am viewing this however as both a learning opportunity and a charitable donation to an organisation with which I have a great affinity.

The revenue generation potential for raising money for Toynbee Hall is hopefully far greater than £900. At the following unit prices the maximum potential is:

Framed prints – 8x£100          £800

Mounted prints – 10x£50        £500

Posters – 30x£5                          £150

Books – 30x£15                          £450

A total of £1900. Assuming 50% achievement of these figures the money raised would be close to £1000.  It should be borne in mind that the sales could be achieved over a longer time period than my exhibition and I would plan to explore other outlets for selling the work on behalf of Toynbee Hall.

I must stress that I have not discussed any of these figures with Toynbee Hall at this stage and they have given me no commitment whatsoever at this time. As such the above figures are purely illustrative and offer a basis of discussion with them in due course.

The cover of the book/catalogue would look something like this:

Lifting the Curtain - Draft Version Two Cover

Lifting the Curtain – Draft Version Two Cover

The main body like this (click to see pdf of book) – open in Preview and view two pages at a time:

Lifting the Curtain Draft Version Two - Main Body

Lifting the Curtain Draft Version Two – Main Body

At the moment there are 5 photographs yet to be completed out of 18. I may also choose to revisit certain of the ones included in this draft. So there is quite a bit of photography still to be done. This will involve trips to Hackney, Bethnal Green, Bow and the Minories close to the Tower of London. I hope to complete most if not all of this by the end of August.