Here I am, drinking tea, collapsed after a massive week of displaying my work at GalleryOne88 in Katoomba. It was always a vision of mine to have an exhibition at the end of this project, but I must admit I had times where I thought I wouldn't be able to get it all together to see my work hanging on a gallery wall, in large print.
Turns out I managed after all.
It was a typical rainy, misty Katoomba eve and the Blue Mountains Folk festival was in the process of packing down. I had the strong urge to walk with my umbrella through the soupy weather because I felt like perhaps I would meet someone in Katoomba. I passed trucks loading chairs and speakers and found myself on Katoomba street, gazing through the windows of the gallery that Victor Peralta seemed to be fervently curating in. He let me in and we chatted about the work. He told he was so booked out that apart from a cancellation, he was packed with work all year. I asked him off hand when his cancellation was and it coincided with my 27th birthday. I made up my mind as I left the gallery that I would email him and book the space.
Next I told a friend and artistic collaborator about my decision to exhibit. Mike Stacey was my camera assistant for The Devil photo in my deck and has photographed me numerous times in his soulful traditional film way. He mentioned that he had actually spoken to Victor about exhibiting also. So naturally I encouraged Mike and roped him into sharing the gallery with me.
Fast forward a few months and here is my work, hanging up, larger than I have ever seen the images I created. I walked the space frequently, sometimes alone but often with photographers, friends and models. One thing that struck me was how some images really came alive in a big format. There were details in The Wheel of Fortune which I noticed for the first time. It felt like discovering a whole new dimension to my work. The placement of a hand, the peaking of eyes through hair, the subtle overlay of images. The Three of Cups came alive with silver glitter, glued onto pale bodies, pressed against one another in a blue mist.
Feedback was given to me by people with all different levels of familiarity with my work. but for the first time for all, we were standing in front of an image at eye level and gazing into it, speaking to what resonates strongest. This was both insightful and enjoyable. Often people leaf through my deck at a reasonable speed because there are just so many images to get through and they are smaller, tactile and within a context of a deck of cards. Here the images stood on their own in many ways. I learned much about my friends and what touches or stirs them, and why.
One of the most significant parts about this exhibition for me was that I was putting my truest self on display to the world. And the world responded. Of course by 'the world' I am speaking about a small selection of people, yet it felt as though I was exposing myself to everyone (both through my work and also through giving a speech and being the subject of many nude photographs in Mike's 'Adorned' series). This involved trust and a whole lot of stress regulation and intermittent walks in the woods on my part.
Gina, Myself and Mike, in front of one of Mike's images of me.
People from various communities I am a part of came along and friends showed support in completely unexpected but amazing ways. Irene Wolff who is my Queen of Cups (and mother) used her carpentry skills to create an amazing hardwood frame for my window piece. Jane Meredith (who is my Magician card) introduced my work beautifully and gave mini tarot readings for the visitors of the gallery and Eric Clayton (The Tower) captured everything on film and helped the lovely Len Metcalf (who features in my wands cards) and Carolyn in setting up a fantastic after party with birthday cake and food and beautiful vibes.
Thanks everyone!! It's been a massive journey and it's not finished yet, as I prepare for the next installment of tarot mayhem.
Mike Stacey: https://www.facebook.com/mikestaceyphoto/?fref=ts