‘Lifting the Curtain’ – staging the exhibition and book sales

Posted on January 19, 2015


As I stated in my previous post my plan is to use ‘Lifting the Curtain’ to raise funds for the East London charity Toynbee Hall through sales of prints and copies of my book. I will pay for the printing, framing  and book production and any proceeds from sales will go to the charity. This post deals with the practical implementation of my presentation strategy. It sets out how I plan to promote and sell my book and stage and publicise an exhibition.

Book Sales

The book will published in advance of my proposed exhibition. By splitting the book launch and exhibition I hope to be able to promote my work over an extended timeframe. I plan to publish the book as soon as I have been able to finalise the foreword written by Toynbee Hall. This is likely to be in April 2015.

As a first step I will set up a sales location on this blog, in which I will ask people to register their forward interest in buying the book. I will promote this by publishing an article on the Toynbee Hall website, email circulation to friends and colleagues, and posts on Flickr forums, my Facebook page and my Twitter account. This way I will be able to gauge the level of response before ordering the books en bloc and dispatching them to those who have registered their interest. Payment will be by cheque or via Paypal.

I also plan to send press releases to local newspapers and bloggers. These include local community newspaper East End Life, The Docklands & East London Advertiser, Hackney Citizen and Spitalfields Life. The latter is a well known local blog which has from time to time featured articles on Booth. The link with Toynbee Hall will I hope encourage the media to take an interest in my work. I have been very clear with the charity all along that using my work to raise funds for them is in both their interests and mine. I hope to raise money for them and to promote and gain an audience for my work.

The second wave of promotion for the book will be linked to the staging of the exhibition. Here I would plan to hold a private view and book signing to open the exhibition. This will in effect be a wine and cheese party open to all comers.

Staging the Exhibition

As I have explained elsewhere my aim would be to stage the exhibition at a venue close to Toynbee Hall in Spitalfields, as part of the East London International Photography Festival, PhotoMonth 2015. To achieve this I will need to find a suitable venue by late June 2015 so that details of the event can be incorporated into the programme for the festival.

Toynbee Hall itself is not ideally suited to an exhibition as the rooms that they do have are generally in use for their educational and advice services. Moreover, the people visiting Toynbee Hall are most often seeking help, and are not in a position to purchase expensive prints or a book. There are however a wide range of possible venues close by, which include small galleries, theatres, cinemas and cafes. I have identified a list of such venues which participated in PhotoMonth 2014, click on photograph below:

PhotoOpen 2014-1

‘Lifting the Curtain’ at PhotoMonth Open 2014

My plan is to contact these venues from February onwards, starting with those close to Toynbee Hall and working outwards. I plan to visit the venues with a view to persuading them to host my exhibition during the Autumn. I will go armed with a portfolio of prints, a schematic of the installation, photographs of a mock up of the diptychs and a copy of the book. The length of the exhibition will depend to some extent on the commitments of venues to other events and cost. Ideally, I would like to run the exhibition for 2-4 weeks. As a contingency if I am unsuccessful in finding a venue, I plan to hold an evening ‘book signing’ event in the library at Toynbee Hall. At this I would be able to display a limited number of prints mounted on easels on tables around the library. This event would be supported by an on-line exhibition. Such an event could be included in PhotoMonth 2015 and listed in their catalogue.

In order to keep costs low my plan is to purchased readymade frames on line. Assuming that I will be able to display around 12 diptychs (80×60 cm images plus 9×7 inch text panels) the total cost including mounts, shipping and VAT would come to around £500. The cost of the exhibition venue is unknown at this time, although I have selected the possible venues on the basis that they are relatively inexpensive. A small dedicated gallery space at the The Rag Factory in the heart of Spitalfields for example would cost around £150 per day or around £1800 for a two week period. Gallery 320 on the other hand which is in the less fashionable Bethnal Green would cost around £500 for a two week period. I will need to weigh up the pros and cons of possible venues when I have determined which are prepared to stage my event.

I hope to sell prints at my exhibition with the monies raised going to Toynbee Hall. I have yet to decide on pricing for the prints. I will do this in conjunction with the gallery owners closer to the opening.

I hope to promote the exhibition through the umbrella of the promotion for the 2015 East London International Photography Festival. I will also launch a second wave of promotional activity in my own right by sending out further press releases to the organisations listed above and mounting a poster campaign closer to the exhibition opening. Additionally I plan to submit my work to open and group exhibitions to access an audience for my work and to increase my credibility with the owners of the galleries where I hope to stage the exhibition. To date my work has been published in Hashtag Photography Magazine and has been shown at the 2o14 PhotoMonth Open in East London. It will also be on show at the ‘Memories’ exhibition in Oxford. This is being curated by John Umney and Penny Watson fellow OCA students. I am on the lookout for other outlets for my work.


All together the publication of the book and staging the exhibition is likely to cost around £2500. This is quite expensive, but I view it as an investment towards establishing my reputation as a photographer and at the same time as an opportunity to give back to East London through charitable donation to Toynbee Hall.