Solo Show – The Strathearn Gallery

My solo show at The Strathearn gallery in Creiff runs from 15th October to 13th November 2016.  I am always excited to be asked to take part in a solo show as it is fantastic to see the gallery full of all my sculptures.  The gallery will be awash with colour.  This year I will be showing alongside painter Ron Lawson, I love his style of work and all the detail he puts into his wee cottages.  I am sure it will be a stunning exhibition to see.

Planning the collection of work

I am normally booked up for a solo show a year in advance.  When planning the new collection of work for a solo show I always to plan to make a couple of big ‘wow’ factor pieces, like a massive Burr elm centre display or large wall hanger.  These types of sculptures always make a big impact and are a great talking point.  Once these big sculptures have been decided I then work on the planning the rest of the collection around them.

I take into account what the bestselling sculptures at the gallery are and make sure we have a big collection of these sculptures.  My best selling sculptures at The Strathearn Gallery tend to be the Journey sculptures, Valley sculptures, Vessel sculptures and the bowls.  I also try and launch a new design of sculpture for the solo show and introduce a new colour palette.

Strath 2016 S.Irvine No. 213 strath journey July 2016 Soprano Ice HIW prize B

Sourcing the materials

The next stage is to source all the wood.  I contact my wood suppliers and see what they have available or what they can source for me.  It is always very exciting when the lorry from the sawmill delivers the timber.  My wife says I am like a kid in a sweetie shop when I start unloading the lorry.  I just love the smell, feel and look of all the new wood.

When everything is unloaded I will look at each blank of wood and write on it what the sculpture is going to be and the colours that I am going to use in the fused glass.  All the wood for the solo show is then put into my wood store in a special section where it is stored until I start work on it.

Once all the wood is sorted I move into the glass studio and go over all the colours needed for each sculpture.  I carry a large stock of all the different colours of glass so there isn’t much need to order in glass special for the solo show.  All the sheets of coloured glass are made in the USA and I tend to have an order coming in every 4 months so I rarely run short on colours.

It’s amazing how much planning goes on before you even start to make a sculpture.  It’s great that everything is so organised as it makes running the business that little bit easier and means I’m not using my time trying to find the right colour of glass or the correct size of wood.  I have my wife to thank for getting everything set up like this all these years ago.

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Making the sculptures

This is the fun bit!  This is where the journey begins for each sculpture. When working on a big collection for a solo show, I need to maximise my workshop time.  I have a schedule of what needs to be made in the wood workshop and then which days I need to move over to the glass studio. I also have a schedule for what needs to be fired in the kiln and whether it’s a fusing run or a slumping run. The kiln is on 7 days a week so it is important to maximise the space inside and make sure I fill the kiln every day. I have to be strict with my working day too so lunch breaks and tea breaks are to a tight schedule.

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Putting the collection together

Once the sculptures start coming in from the workshop to be oiled in the oiling room, you really start to get an idea of how the collection will look.  After each sculpture is completely finished it is photographed for the gallery website.  Each sculpture is given a reference number to tie up with an artist list which details price/size and description.

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Packing the collection

Packing up the work normally takes a couple of days as I like to make sure everything is well protected for its journey to the gallery.

The gallery

It is always a very strange feeling delivering a massive collection of work like this as I’ve been working on it for a long period of time and it’s difficult not to get attached to each piece.  It’s now down to Susan and Scott at The Strathearn Gallery to place each sculpture in the perfect spot in the gallery.  Now that is a tough job as not only do they need each sculpture to be in its best location but they also need to blend with the surrounding paintings on the wall.  I don’t know how they do it but they always produce such a stunning show within the gallery.

When the work is delivered to the gallery it looks like you are packing to move house; stuff is everywhere! But within a few days the gallery just looks stunning, again it is amazing to see all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to put on the perfect exhibition.

Strathearn Gallery Strathearn Gallery Inside Strathearn Gallery

The private view

The private view is held on the morning of the opening day of the exhibition and is normally by invitation only.  It has taken me several years to relax at a private view as I am quite a private person.  It is always so nice to speak to customers that have come in to get their next sculpture to put in their collection or to meet someone who has just come across my work for the first time, or just come along to talk to me about the sculpture they already have and tell me how much joy it has given them.  I just love to see people’s reaction as they walk into the gallery.  I love watching people touching the wood and feeling all the different textures in the carving.  It’s also nice to chat to people about how the sculptures are made and what inspires me.

The end of the exhibition

At the end of the month long solo show, sometimes I will leave the remaining sculptures so that they can continue to be displayed in the next show in the gallery and occasionally I top up with more sculptures to build up the collection.

So why not visit The Strathearn Gallery in Creiff to see my big solo show.  It’s a lovely, relaxed gallery that gets flooded with natural light and shows off the colours in the fused glass so well.  You are always made very welcome, so well worth a wee visit.  You can also see the exhibition online at The Strathearn Gallery