When I was making a plan for hanging this exhibition, I knew the huge curved back wall of the gallery would be a key feature. It’s actually a hint of what’s above – the theatre – which at this time of year hosts the panto! So it lends itself to being theatrical.
I was clear from the start that I wanted a space for visitors to join in – to show their ideas exploring the themes in the exhibition. Having your work up on the wall in a gallery is a great opportunity to reflect on what you’ve made, to start new conversations, and to discover even more. So, that huge curved back wall was definitely calling to me and so, I took a gamble with it and left it almost completely blank for the opening of the show.
Almost, but not quite blank. I had the signwriters label it first and they marked off the 5 weeks and 5 themes of the exhibition at intervals along the long curve. These were:
- 1: Measuring
- 2: Mapping
- 3: Stories
- 4: Landscapes
- 5: Journeys
Here be Dragons?
Next, while hanging my actual work on the walls, I gave the stage crew a task. “Imagine this wall is a huge sea chart of unexplored places. I want you all to put pins in the map, to make your mark. And then, I want you to join up your pins with these coloured threads so that all these places are connected…” They took the pins, hammers and my selection of multi-coloured threads and for the next 30 minutes at least they seemed pleasantly absorbed in creating a whole world of their own on the wall.
So, now the stage was set – my exhibition was up, and the back wall was ready to hold the space week by week and let the story unfold. My thinking was that by the end of the show, we’d all actually be able to walk back through time along this wall through the 5 weeks. This seems appropriate for an exhibition connecting back through 900 years of history, so I nicknamed it The Wall of Time.