Lifting the Curtain Exhibition – Final Thoughts

Posted on November 22, 2015


The dust has now settled on the Lifting the Curtain Exhibition and I thought it would be a good idea to record my reflections on the experience.

In summary it was an exciting and very worthwhile experience. I had the opportunity to show my work in a lovely gallery that was also a place highly consistent with the theme – an Victorian building contemporaneous with Charles Booth’s survey. I managed to raise in total around £3500 for Toynbee Hall from sales of prints, books and catalogues. The exhibition was pretty well attended and the organised visits by groups of students from the OCA and my Rotary club seem to have been well received.

I was delighted with how the exhibition looked. The space was small but perfectly formed. Here is what the installation looked like.

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Lifting the Curtain Exhibition Town House Spitalfields 14-25th October 2015 – Installation

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Lifting the Curtain Exhibition Town House Spitalfields 14-25th October 2015 – Installation




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Lifting the Curtain Exhibition Town House Spitalfields 14-25th October 2015 – Installation

I had a visitor’s book for people to leave their comments and 15 people took the time to do this which was very pleasing. I recognise that only people who enjoyed the exhibition would have commented so this is a very biassed sample!

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Lifting the Curtain Exhibition Visitor Book

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Lifting the Curtain Exhibition Visitor Book

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Lifting the Curtain Exhibition Visitor Book

So what would I do differently?

  1. Linking the exhibition to fundraising for Toynbee Hall was a great success. It was instrumental in allowing me to persuade the gallery owner to allow me to stage the exhibition and  helped promote the event and sales of prints, books and so on.
  2. Press coverage – truth to tell I did not get any significant coverage in the press. I produced a press release and had the support of the OCA press team and yet I was not successful in capturing the imagination of any journalists. I will try to do this again for future exhibitions but I have learned that it is very challenging and not to expect too much…
  3. In contrast to the press I gained significant coverage in blogs and so on. This appears to be the most productive channel for promotion. See here.
  4. Books sales went very well. So much so that I did not have enough books! As I was paying for them myself I had to place a limit on the number of copies. In future I would explore other avenues for book production. Based on my experience in producing the catalogue (see below) I think I could have produced an equivalent or better product for less.
  5. The catalogue sold well – around 70 out of the 100 copies. I enjoyed working with book producer Eddie Ephraums and was very pleased with the final product. All together the catalogues cost around £6 per copy. Through it would have cost in excess of £10 and would have been a lower quality production. In future I will go down this route for all book/catalogue production.
  6. Exhibition prints – I think I missed out on an opportunity to sell more prints by providing a less expensive option. I would in future consider offering unframed prints with a card support and wrapped in clear plastic. I think I could have sold more prints this way and maintained the margin of profit for the charity.
  7. Staging events such as the Private View, Study Visits and Rotary Club tour is a great way to gain footfall and potentially sell books prints and so on. All told around 100 people attended these events. In future I would plan to include similar events to drum up interest.
  8. I went for a relatively expensive means of framing and display. It would have been possible to reduce costs here had I decided to print all the work myself and get the prints mounted on foamcore or equivalent. All together I spent around £1200 on printing and framing.

So its all over for now…not quite as I have yet to deliver a couple of prints to people. I have learned a lot and look forward to repeating the experience again sometime soon…I hope!