FMP Exhibition – The Checklist

I believed it was important to hold my exhibition locally because the subject of my work is of significant interest to the people in the local area.  However, the choices of venues are extremely limited and because all the suitably large spaces are multi-use facilities that have a variety of regular activities and events booked in them throughout the year, availabilities of even a couple of contiguous days were extremely limited. That created a multitude of planning and logistical challenges that had to be managed in order to have a successful exhibition. In order to organise and execute a major exhibition in a venue that is not optimised as a gallery and with no help from on-site staff or curators a significant amount of planning and investment was necessary.

The lack of suitable wall space and lighting demanded an exhibition design that created a proper backdrop to highlight the work and lighting to complement it.  It had to accommodate A0 or A1 prints which meant the fixtures needed large faces of at least a metre across. Since lighting had to be incorporated into the display fixture it had to be of sufficient height to ensure the light was both far enough away from the photo to spread and cast the correct amount of light, and high enough to not interfere with even the tallest visitors. Another consideration was because I intended to use the fixed cinema projector, screen and surround sound system in the venue hall I had to manage the footprint of the display system such that it would not interrupt the projector beam. That set the maximum distance at which the furthest display unit could be set from the entrance and their needed to be enough space to accommodate the other three units and allow adequate space for people to move unobstructed between them and to have sufficient space to stand back and see the large format prints. I also wanted the fixtures to be re-usable and re-configurable for different venues in the future as building them would be a sizable investment in time and money.

The Checklist of items that needed to be completed for a successful exhibition follows.  They are organised by category and tasks.  The categories not in a necessarily fixed sequential order but the tasks are generally dependent on the predecessor.

Venue Requirements

  1. Survey local venues for suitability and availability
    1. Size
    2. Configuration
    3. Catering accommodation
    4. Accessibility
    5. Access to power
    6. Ability to accommodate still and moving image displays
  2. Select venue
  3. Book venue
Dornoch Social Club – photo courtesy of Mick Yates
Dornoch Social Club interior


Display Requirements

  1. Determine exact measurements and restrictions in the venue space
  2. Determine which photos are to be shown in what size
    1. Choose a print house to print and mount
    2. Produce test strips to calibrate printer20191002_140955
    3. Print and mount all large format photos


    4. Print miniatures in house and mountIMG-20191101-WA0017
    5. Establish Hang plan
  3. Establish the size and number of display fixtures required to accommodate photo selection
  4. Build scale models and test concepts20191022_152844
  5. Establish lighting requirements
    1. Purchase lights
    2. Purchase and prepare mounting hardware
  6. Prepare detailed design drawing as requirements
    1. Determine materials and quantities required
  7. Find and contract a joiner to assist in the building of the fixtures
    1. Build first unit and validate design


    2. Build remaining units20191025_130249
  8. Move to paint facility
    1. Paint all panels matte black20191026_101848
  9. Move to exhibition venue
    1. Touch up paint as required20191031_162506
  10. Assemble fixtures20191101_003326
  11. Install lightsIMG-20191101-WA0002
  12. Connect to mains
    1. Qualified electrician to construct custom cabling from light fixtures to mains
  13. Mount photographs in accordance with hang plan in 2e aboveIMG-20191101-WA0004

Video Requirements

  1. Edit and create videos
  2. Burn to BluRay
  3. Test with venue projector and sound system
    1. Calibrate projector colour as required
  4. Establish requirements for entry wall video monitor to play trailer slide show
    1. Pick monitor
    2. Purchase mounting system
    3. Install after Display Requirements item 9 above
    4. Provide access for cable from laptop to the video monitor and mains power for both

Advertising Requirements

  1. Design and print posters for distribution in Dornoch, Embo, Golspie and Brora
    1. Hang poster 3 weeks prior to event
  2. Publish Facebook and Instagram announcements of event 3 weeks prior with weekly updates
  3. Newspaper article published in the local paper
  4. Get announcement published in the weekly Royal Dornoch Golf Club newsletter
  5. Use Falmouth Flexible Photo Instagram account to announce event
  6. Promote word of mouth communications about the event

Reception Requirements

  1. Determine guest list and send invitations
  2. Monitor RSVPs to establish catering requirements
  3. Survey and select caterer
  4. Choose menu items
  5. Buy wine and soft drinks
  6. Purchase guest comment book
  7. Signage for directions within venue
  8. Prepare and practice artist’s talk
  9. Arrange to video and record artist’s talkBeneath the Noise -3

    Beneath the Noise -28
    Photos courtesy of Mick Yates


Documentation Requirements

  1. Installation photos
  2. Installation video
  3. Artist talk video


In the end, because I had my venue for only 2 days and had to set up on the day of opening and tear down after the second day, meticulous planning and attention to detail was required.  I had no ability to dry run the installation nor did I have the luxury of several days of set up to work out any kinks.  It had to be right the first time and there was almost no margin for error or for having forgotten something in the planning phase.

I am pleased to report the planning and preparation led to a near flawless execution and a successful event.


All photos by Ashley Rose unless otherwise annotated.  Thanks to Mick Yates for attending the reception and taking photos of the event.

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