Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Great Sheffield Art Show: Selection Process

On Sunday I woke up to glorious sunshine. Despite that, the edges of the pond were frozen and the wind was really cold. I was (rather selfishly) glad it wasn't too nice, since I was spending a chunk of the day indoors, as one of the judges helping select artwork for this year's Great Sheffield Art Show

The exhibition is 25 years old this summer and shows a massive variety of work. Professional artists with a large body of work can rent a space, but the main body of the hall is giving over to the 'open show: a great opportunity for emerging artists. 

The selection process is really interesting. It's done at the weekend, so the organisers can borrow a local school (it needs an awful lot of room). Would-be exhibitors deliver their artwork first thing. A team of volunteers carry it all into the school hall and prop it up against the walls, or on chairs and tables, so everything is visible, but anonymous. When it's all set up, the judges walk round and colour-code the work as 'yes', 'no' or 'maybe'. We work in pairs, starting at opposite ends of the room, so that, when we cross over in the middle, we can moderate the other pair's decisions, drawing attention to anything we strongly disagree with and nudging their 'maybes' one way or other.

Once we have finished, the organisers go in and do a count-up, with an eye on the numbers they need to fill the exhibition space, adding back any extras they think might be especially saleable or popular with the public.

Once the selecting is finalised, we all get treated to a lovely buffet lunch (and a naughty, lunchtime glass of wine): a great opportunity to have a good natter with like-minded people. Last year I stayed and helped all afternoon too, and even did some sketching.

If you want to get involved, they need more volunteers to help with the hanging on June 28th - 1400 pictures need hanging in just 4 hours! They also need stewards during the show. Contact Anne Liddell.

The show open to the public from June 29th - July 1st, from 10am - 6pm (8pm on Friday) at The Octagon Centre in Sheffield. Tickets (on the door) are £4.50 / £4 concessions.

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