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Sunday, 19 July 2015

Art Exhibit in the Cheng-Kim Loke Gallery

   After a year and a half of working and waiting, my exhibit has finally been set up! I never thought that this kind of opportunity would happen, so I'm absolutely thrilled to have my work in an art gallery to be seen by a massive number of people, from families on an easy day out to absolute bird-fanactics! I'm so excited!
   I'd spread the work out over quite some time to keep the pressure of the event minimal, which I think I managed with great success, because it was only in the last 2 weeks before the exhibit that its approach hit me. By that point I'd already done all the creative work and it was just down to tidying up each piece and making them presentable, and I only started to get butterflies when I was actually on my way to the gallery.
   I used six plinths, and, rather stupidly, only took pictures from close-up rather than of the plinths and gallery as a whole. I was flustered and excited so I didn't realise my mistake until I was already on my way home.
   I admit that there are only three set-ups in the six plinths, as I wanted the pieces to be seen, so I planned to have three displays on one side of the gallery and three matching displays on the other. In short, I made two of everything. I cheated, I know, but the gallery manager was quite happy with this, so it's all good! This way, even if one side of the gallery is crowded, people can still see the 'same' pieces on the other side. All of them are hand made and hand painted, not cast, so the two African Dogs, for example, are still a little different from one another.


  On a personal note, many of you will probably notice that this is in fact the first picture of me on this whole blog aside from the occasional headshot. I'm an extremely self-conscious person and don't really like to show myself ever, but all the weight I've lost from the obsessive exercise I've been doing over the past year and a half has given me enough of a confidence boost to brave this shot. Not to mention that I was also so, so proud of my little exhibit that I needed a little picture of me with it, even if I did look extremely uncomfortable!


   The woodland plinth features the usual suspects: foxes, deer, badgers, owls, but also has a few tiny garden birds which I'm particularly proud of! A blue tit, chaffinch, goldfinch and sparrow. The plinth on the other side of the gallery has the same set-up.


   The 'wild' plinth has animals from lots of different and deeply wild settings, like the African savannah, Asian forests and so on, with African wild dogs, snow leopards, spirit bears and yaks. Again, the plinth on the other side of the gallery has the same set-up. I had intended to expand on each location but I found coming up with animals and finding the time quite hard, and by the time I'd done half of these challenging shapes (the rhino was the worst) I'd also lost a lot of motivation. So I ended up putting them all together in one plinth rather than one for polar, one for Africa and one for Asia. Still, I'm actually quite happy with how the set-up went for these animals.


   The last plint is probably the most relevant to the gallery, as it's part of a WWT (wildfowl and wetlands trust) conservation centre. I made lots of different ducks! There's a mandarin, a male and female mallard, a nene (my favourite duck), a few whistlers, and I even made a couple of cranes, a stork and a heron! There's also a platypus and an otter. I'm not happy with the otter, in truth, it looks more like a weasel, but, funnily enough, I had a walk around the park after I'd set up and there was a collection of lego wetlands creatures set up around the place, including an otter which looked just like the one I made: in short, a weasel. While looking at the lego otter, remembering my own and then walking around the corner and seeing real ones, I realised that the main mistake both myself and the lego constructor had made was making the head too round and the belly too clean. Still, it could be worse!

   I'm happy with the set-ups. The woodland and grasslands plinth is fairly straight forward. No one can deny what sort of setting they're looking at. The wetlands plinth, too, is obvious, especially to the kinds of people who would frequent the park. In short: bird lovers. And because of the cohesion of these two plinths, the 'wild' plinth seems to work on its own, too. I was worried the animals wouldn't work well together in that one, but in fact I think they're each so different to what's in the other two plinths that they work just fine.
   The exhibit, in the Cheng-Kim Loke gallery in the WWT centre, Slimbridge, runs from July 25th to October 12th , and all pieces are for sale with a commission going to the WWT centre. Any pieces that aren't sold by the end of the exhibit will be returned to me, at which point I'll be listing them in my Etsy shop just in time for Christmas, so I'm confident that, however the exhibit goes, the time spent making the pieces was time well spent.



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