It’s been a busy few weeks. I went up to the first week of Freerange’s photography exhibition and met up with colleagues and students. There’s no doubt, it was a great experience for students to learn all the things that go into exhibiting work – from fundraising through to hanging things on the wall (or balancing things on the floor or suspending things from the ceiling). All these skills are invaluable for the future. They also had to understand the logistics of getting their work from one institution to London. Most importantly I think the lessons of working together are learned really quickly. This event really is a team effort and a very public one, mostly because your peers are exhibiting next door to you. And it’s interesting to think that these other people that are showing their work are the people you will meet in the future, the people you will work and collaborate with or the people you will compete with for jobs or for funding. These are some of the more vital lessons that can be learned. It is so important to be able to work with other people.
Team working is not about everyone working on the same thing – it’s about a common goal, with personal objectives that work toward the greater good. Certainly the hardest part is knowing who is best at each task and learning to trust others to do what they can do best. This can be a tough lesson, especially if, at the eleventh hour, someone hasn’t quite done what you were hoping they would do. I believe, outside of giving students an ‘end point’ for the projects, that Freerange gives a controlled taste of a very particular type of activity.
I had two more general thoughts looking round Freerange. The first was not being able to quickly orientate myself. I quickly wandered from room to room and then realised I didn’t know which institution was responsible for the work I was looking at. For me this was frustrating, mainly because I really wanted to understand the vision and focus of the different courses. It’s possible I just wasn’t paying close enough attention. But next time I, personally, need a big sign. My other issue was the lighting and how that could be managed or better adapted. Perhaps, I have a preference for like darkness and spotlights but I certainly found the warehouse, fluorescent lighting to be too bright, too everywhere. The problem I can see here is that with less light I’d certainly have even less chance of knowing where I was when I walked round! There’s a spatial navigation problem waiting to be solved here.
All in all I thought the event worked well for the students I spoke to. I think inevitably it will look good on their CVs and it will, I hope, also have provided real opportunities to experience and test all the skills and qualities needed for putting a show together.
It was also nice to get a mention on the Plymouth College of Art pack of cards. Maybe that was, indeed, the best part!