My Exhibition Stand at ArtsFest 2011

ArtsFest is UK’s largest free arts event that takes place over a weekend in Birmingham every year. Were you one of the 200,000 people who attended this weekend? If you were I hope you had a fantastic time and I hope the downpour on Saturday afternoon didn’t dampen your spirits. I am usually one of the enthusiastic visitors taking in the variety of events that take place, but this year was extra special for me. This year is the first year I’ve exhibited at ArtsFest, in their ArtsSpace marquee, and I have to say it has been an invaluable and touching experience.

The lead up to ArtsFest was extremely stressful. I only found out a week before that I would have double the space. It wouldn’t have been a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that I was in Ireland at the time, and was due to return to Birmingham a few days before ArtsFest started. Luckily my framer Andy, of Fairford Frames, came to my rescue and was at hand to frame some extra prints for me. He also kindly helped me with transporting everything. I had only planned to take the Signed Limited Edition Giclée prints of my landscape paintings, but ended up taking the originals too. It did work out perfectly though and I was able to fill the space.


Thomas helped me with setting up the stand, and he was great. I knew how and where I wanted the paintings and prints to be positioned. I drew the above plans while I was in Ireland. Thomas made it so much easier for me by doing all the calculations. I didn’t have to think! It was a huge relief once everything was set up on the Friday. All that was needed was for me to turn up the following day at 10am.

I was tired but excited on the Saturday morning. The sun was shining, it was  the perfect way to start the day. I got to the marquee on time to find to my horror that the descriptions I for my artwork had become wrinkly over night because of the damp atmosphere. I got stressed and tried to salvage them. Luckily I had spray mounted them on to foam boards so I smoothed them out as best as I could. The ink did smear slightly though. I kept my fingers crossed that it didn’t look too bad.

One thing I hadn’t anticipated was the large influx of people coming into the ArtsSpace marquee. I have only ever done one other art fair, and that was at Solihull AllSorts several months ago. It was on a much smaller scale. I did find ArtsFest a little overwhelming to begin with but then got into the spirit of things and thoroughly enjoyed meeting some lovely people.

The one thing that really amazed me over the weekend was how people reacted to my paintings. They took everything in. It was as if they were in a gallery or a museum. My paintings seemed to draw them in. There were many who connected with them on an emotional level and some were brought to tears, which was extremely moving for me to witness. They were touched by them. People also found the descriptions for the paintings perfect and fitting, and agreed with the sentiment.

Amongst the comments made were, uplifting, positive, beautiful, peaceful, calming, spiritual, warm and magical. There was one lady who was in tears because she found Shine so beautiful. There was another who felt she could look at Hope Floats forever. There were some who felt as if they were there, they were drawn into that world. One lady captured the meaning of Freedom in one sentence, something I couldn’t do. She said that it was the window to your soul.

There was one gentleman, Mr Marshall, who loved and instantly connected with Hope Floats. Before I spoke to him, I observed him looking at the paintings extremely closely. He was taking everything in. When I spoke to him he dissected Turbulence. He  felt the intensity and the drama of the painting and described what was going on. With his description he captured the strong emotions I was feeling at the time it was painted. He also scrutinized Andy’s framing and mounts, and said “it’s the closest thing to perfection as you can get”. Andy is a master craftsman, his framing is immaculate.

To top what was turning to be a heart warming and emotional weekend, Miss Cook bought a framed print of Shine. Again she instantly connected with it, and the daisies, when she first saw it on the Saturday. The daisies in Shine represent the human spirit.  Shine – be your beautiful self. Just be you.

I was surprised when Miss Cook returned first thing on Sunday to buy it.  Shine perfectly captured how she felt. She found it beautiful. I am looking forward to taking the print over to her next week. She asked for a thinner double mount but with the same frame which wasn’t a problem.

Exhibiting at ArtsFest was an amazing experience and I was extremely touched by how people reacted to my paintings. They made me realise why I paint. I have always felt that once I’ve finished a painting, it no longer belonged to me. It was an outlet to express myself at the time of painting it, but I have no attachment to it afterwards. It was for others to hopefully enjoy and experience.

I honestly didn’t think my paintings would have such a huge impact and capture so many peoples imagination the way they did over this weekend. The paintings made them feel good, it gave them hope. They were transported to another world for that brief moment. It was magic to see. Thank you to all the lovely people I spoke to and for making it so special for me.