Monday morning, I was back in the Gallery re-hanging the lanterns which kept falling like autumn leaves from Sky in the City. My original idea for attaching them turned out to not be the best - and one of the many lessons learned through this exhibition is Fully Test All Technical Aspects Before Opening.
Anyway, it was a quiet time alone, as I worked my way up the 3.1 metre tall lantern book reattaching the 140 or so of the lanterns that were hanging loose. Only a few visitors came by while I was there and it suited me that none seemed very interested in chatting or lingering.
But one gentleman walked in, stopped at the top of the entrance steps and exclaimed, "Oh! I thought there was an exhibition on."
Thinking he was put off by the ladder and my little array of tools, I replied, "Yes there is. The show opened yesterday. I'm just doing some repairs, but please come on in and look around."
He took a couple more steps in and said, "But there's nothing here."
"Yes there is," I insisted. "It's an exhibition of artist's books, come and have a look."
"An exhibition of what?"
He took a couple more steps, and finally noticed Love Falls, the first piece on the wall. He peered at it for a few seconds and then turned and left without saying anything more.
I gave a mental shrug and continued with my lantern-fiddling, thinking about the encounter. All the people at the opening who were so enthusiastic about my work were primed for it, looking for it, ready to see and find something for themselves in it. Many people commented on how it was so unlike anything they had seen before/in Whangarei.
Everything in the exhibition is in a limited palette, predominantly white background with black text. There are some blue greys, the very dark brown of Charnal Grounds, the golden buff of the lanterns and a splash of bright pink here, a hint of emerald green there. There are few graphic images or patterns and they are very minor. If you were coming in from a bright sunny day to the dim inner light of the gallery looking for the bold colours, big canvases, solid ceramics or turned wood that are the usual Yvonne Rust Gallery fare, you might honestly not be able to see my work.
Domestic Pilgrimage has been described as minimalist, Zen-like, subtle and pristine. I think it is bold work (as in daring) and challenging (in the sense of demanding sustained attention - rather than being confrontational) , but it is certainly not gaudy or bright!
Witnessing Domestic Pilgrimage's invisibility to a casual visitor makes me wonder if a different kind of gallery space would make my work stand out more strongly. Dark walls rather than white? Spotlights rather than diffused natural light? A sophisticated urban contemporary art context rather than an earthy, quirky, crafty context? I think I would like the opportunity to find out.