On Friday the 16th of March, Liam and myself went to The Gallery of Photography and met with Trish Lambe (who is the co-director of the gallery) and Pete Smyth (who is in charge of darkroom and installation processes). We came prepared with questions to ask; this allowed the conversation to flow naturally and made sure we didn't forget to ask anything. Trish and Pete were lovely, even though they were very busy, they didn't rush us and were happy to give us tips to becoming a successful artist and photographer. Even though the meeting was about a half an hour long, there was so much information to take into account.
Firstly, we asked about the details of how the gallery was run; we talked about destruction of
prints after an exhibition to which Trish told us, they destroy them to the point of no return. For Pieter Hugo's prints, they used blow torches and spray paint before breaking the prints into pieces. We also asked about their working day, to which both Trish and Pete explained that a lot of the time, they have to work overtime as there is often tight deadlines, as well as the need to build relationships with artists and others. Pete showed us creates that he built to store prints and we discussed the difficulty with transporting prints abroad. It was interesting to find out the complexity of this, down to at one point the wood of the creates not being treated wood, and so ran into issues.
We discussed the up keeping of the gallery itself; as they cannot afford cleaners etc. as they constantly battle for funding, the staff of the gallery do all the housekeeping. After a show, Pete also fills in holes in the walls from pins or nails; he noted the importance of using 'One Time' fine porcelain filler and not pollyfiller as this is too coarse and messy. He also mentioned that he dabbles the paintbrush over the holes so there is not visible brush stroke marks on the wall. It was interesting and shocking to know the super-fine details that go into the gallery. A book that Val gave me the week before, 'Installing Exhibitions: A Practical Guide' by Pete Smithson, gave me more insight into all of these small details and also made what Pete and Trish were saying familiar and made it easier to understand. Pete also mentioned how he hangs images; he generally avoids mirror plates and uses a nail and plug to hang photographs.
Lighting is also an important aspect to take into account. The gallery is north facing which allows natural light to come in, however the use of artificial lighting is essential. In the gallery, they use projector lamps as they give control. In the time they have been open, they have had 3 different lighting refits, and it's still not right according to Trish. Pete told us that even the flooring has an effect on the light.
What I thought to be a fascinating piece of information was the explanation they give for the shows. Trish says they usually ask the question and leave the audience to answer. It is ''an exploration, not an explanation''. For exhibitions, they subject the language used to be at the reading age of 14 and tend not to use too much academic writings or language as this creates a barrier between the audience and the work.
It was overall a very positive experience talking to Trish and Pete. Both were very accommodating, happy to answer questions in detail and were not in any rush with the interview. It was interesting to know the ins and outs of running a gallery and the job that both of them do is very impressive.