With The London Group Open just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to hear just what it takes to plan and run this amazing event, which has run since 1916.
It’s quite a commitment!
Running an Open exhibition is a great responsibility and The London Group takes it very seriously. As practising artists we know what a huge boost it can be to have your work selected for an important exhibiting platform. Those of us from the Group that work on the Open do so as volunteers and we try hard to get it right for all the artists who submit.
The first task it to secure prizes and importantly only non-members are eligible to win. We have some loyal prize givers such as the Chelsea Arts Club and a number of members donate prizes such as Jeff Lowe’s Sculpture Prize and the Schauerman Digital Art Prize. The President’s Prize of a three-person exhibition at The Cello Factory is a significant prize with a number of winners subsequently going on to become members.
Since 2015, submissions have been online and we pay a third party platform to receive the images and information – some of the submission fee goes towards this. The Group remains very involved – in 2015 we had over 900 emails about the Open!
In the lead up to selection, we are planning the exhibitions, writing press notices, checking that entries are completed and posting on social media.
Once the deadline has passed, the selection committee, comprising 17 members, begins the task of selecting the work. Initially voting is done independently online and can take quite a few days, providing a fascinating and sometimes joyous insight into the work being made today. As artists we take this responsibility seriously – many of us will have been on the receiving end of a rejection letter or two and know what it feels like! If you submit to The London Group Open you can be sure that 17 artists have seen your work. The votes are then collated and highest scoring works go through to stage 2 when the selection committee get together to decide on the final artworks. It is interesting to see how a consensus coalesces around certain works – inevitably some just miss out.
Artists are then notified, the curators thrash out which work will be in which part, the catalogue is designed, the video show reel prepared, and press releases announcing the successful artists sent out.
And then the artists arrive with their work and the enormity of the undertaking hits home! Luckily the Group has amazing hangers who work with the appointed curators and the show takes shape over the space of two days. Mirror plates are painted in, sculptures positioned, labels printed, price lists sorted, floors swept, wine ordered and very importantly volunteers found for invigilation.
It is always exciting for those that have been working on the Open to see the exhibition come to life at the PV when an invited guest declares the Open open! But there is still much work to be done; prize winners are selected, wine distributed, sales made, non-members introduced, and washing up done!
Over the course of the next couple of weeks there will be artist talks to arrange and attend, invigilation, digital artworks turned on and off, one exhibition down and another up, screw holes filled, prizes given and more washing up!
This will be The London Group’s 84th Open exhibition – quite a commitment.
Amanda Loomes LG, 2019
Click here for info on entering this year’s Open
Call for Entries deadline: 5pm on 30th August 2019