The choice of venue was a critical determinant in the in the design and curation of the exhibition. There were two underlying factors that were key to and a number of secondary and tertiary factors that would weigh in on the final choice.
First, I felt strongly that the venue had to be reasonably local because the subject was principally one with strong local interest and those whose interests were most vested in the outcomes should have both first and easiest access to seeing the work. Second, the venue had to support the creation of the immersive experience I hoped to create.
With those as the initial primary criteria, three possible venues were candidates; the Dornoch Social Club in the centre of Dornoch, The Embo Old School 3 miles to the north and immediately adjacent to Coul Links, and the Carnegie Hall in Clashmore 3 miles to the south which was also the site of the Government’s Enquiry Hearings in February and March of this year.
Additional evaluation criteria
|Capacity for 100 people||Yes||No||Yes|
|Ability to be darkened sufficient for video||Yes||No||Yes|
|Wall space suitable for hanging||No||No||No|
|Audio and visual equipment installed on-site||Yes||No||No|
|Lighting conducive to exhibit||No||Yes||No|
|Distance from most likely visitors||Best||Mid||Worst|
|Parking||Marginal but most could walk||Limited||Extremely limited|
|Entry flow control||Yes||No||Yes|
|Kitchen/ Catering capacity||Yes||Yes||Yes|
All of these spaces are community assets and as such are heavily scheduled on a continuing basis for a variety of uses. Scheduling was going to be a challenge at all of them.
Embo was recently renovated but the space was too small, was largely glass walls with no ability to darken the space, and video would have only been possible on the large television.
Clashmore is a lovely hall and certainly large enough to have allowed flexibility in the exhibition design. It would have required hiring audio visual equipment and the colour of the walls in the hall plays havoc with the way the photographs would be seen. It was also the furthest from the target audiences and would have required everyone to drive to a place with limited parking.
Based on the considerations above it was clear that no place was perfect, but the Dornoch Social Club was the best choice for a number of reasons. Having cinema grade projection and sound systems and the ability to darken the hall was a key factor as was its location relative to most visitors and for me. It was a space with which I was very familiar and because of my involvement with the organisation that administers it and the cinema club, I had virtually unlimited access to the DSC as required to measure, plan, and test video whenever the hall was not otherwise occupied. It also had an entry foyer adjacent which led into the hall at the end opposite the cinema screen which allowed me to apportion the space and control the flow into the exhibition. However, lack of suitable wall space and poor lighting dictated that I would have to construct bespoke display fixtures and lighting to control how the work was viewed and to create the immersive experience I was seeking.
The size of the space was only just large enough to accommodate the display fixtures without interfering with the cinema projector, so planning had to be thorough and precise as dis the design and construction of the fixtures. More detail on that process can be found in a subsequent post on the Design and Construction of the displays.
In the end, the venue decision proved a good one and the extensive planning and subsequent execution resulted in a very successful event. It was unfortunate the venue was only available for two days, but subsequent to the Dornoch exhibition, the Embo venue asked me to bring the exhibition there. It required a different approach and resulted in a more traditional gallery type exhibition, but it did get the work exposed to an additional number of people over the 2+ weeks it was on display.