This week our In the Studio artists ventured behind the scenes at the hang of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2018. Find out what the young artists, and the ROI President and Vice President made of the visit.


'It was a great privilege to witness the behind the scenes of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2018 and then to attend the private view the following day', says Suzon Lagarde. 'I was particularly impressed by the amount of work done is such a short period of time. This helped me to better understand the need for size and framing regulations during the submission process. There's already enough diversity and potential difficulties surrounding everything that is to hang on the day. it simply wouldn't be practical to allow things like non-standard frames.'

'I was surprised to hear that most of the curation happens on the day. If I understand correctly, Tim Benson PROI NEAC had some guidelines (one space for the thematic work, one for the young artists, mixing member and non-member) but the rest of the decisions were made on the day. I would have thought a first draft would happen before, playing digitally with thumbnails of the artworks, or even with printed versions. This only reinforces how impressed I was that all that work could be done in such a short amount of time.' 

'My personal experience is of organising as much as possible beforehand, partly because we had to hang the work ourselves (which took a fair amount of time!). Previously I've created virtual models of a gallery and imported small jpegs of everyone's work so we were able to play with different layouts. On the day, we tweaked a few things because sometimes it feels better with such spontaneity, but it was very useful to have a base to start from. I was thinking, as the gallery space is the same from years to years, it could be a service offered in the future, to let societies use a virtual model of the space to play before hand with curation?'

'I really enjoyed the way everything was hung', continued Suzon; 'that pieces from one artist were often spaced out, but not too much, so you could still recognise similarities and come back to it. The theme around community was a brilliant idea, and I'm looking forward to seeing if the idea continues in future. Overall I'm really grateful for Tim and Adebanji's words, and felt really inspired by the visit.'


'I really enjoyed the atmosphere behind the scenes and how informal it was' says In the Studio artist Maddie Exton, 'just observing alone was really informative and interesting.' 'I'm in the process of setting up an interim show at Uni, so it was useful to see how professionals sort things out. I think we all felt really privileged to witness the hang and I'd love to attend more of that kind of event where we just learn through observation, which is invaluable. It was interesting to hear Tim talk about the divide between the traditional and contemporary art worlds, and to learn how much of the packing materials would be swept up and thrown away. The cardboard laid out on the floor and the big rolls of bubble wrap and film all seemed almost sculptural to me.'

'I wondered what kind of reaction there would be if the show was opened to the public at the stage we saw it - if the "hang" was actually just propping paintings up against the wall or lying them on the floor. I was also interested by the distinction between artist and technician - Mall Galleries Marketing Manager Liberty Rowley mentioned how some of the technicians had exhibited with her in the London Arts Board, and I think there's always a tension when artists are technicians/invigilators. It's interesting that an artist's day job can be hanging work and running errands for other artists.'


'Behind the scenes at the ROI exhibition reminded me of my degree show, but without the arguments over space' says participant Jyotsna Shelley. 'The mid-hang allowed us to see how people worked collectively in order to curate such a large exhibition. I would have preferred to see all the works unframed, as I believe that the frame is a distraction from the medium and texture of the paintings. It was incredibly enlightening and insightful to hear the Vice President and President of the ROI talk about how they first started as artists and what their real drive is. The discussion made me take an alternative approach to my practice. I’ve always had a habit of overthinking, without actually producing work. This then becomes a cycle. Tim Benson PROI NEAC and Adebanji Alade VPROI inspired me to make mistakes, discover opportunities, and take them by the horn. I was struck the sheer passion and motivation they had to draw and make work, and that it's never too late to do so.' 

'It would be greatly useful to have more discussions about the inclusivity and accessibility of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. Overall, I greatly appreciated the visit and the opportunity to get a glimpse into the set-up of an exhibition.'


'It was a great experience to have members of the In the Studio project present at the hanging of our Annual Exhibition' says ROI President Tim Benson PROI NEAC. It was an opportunity for them to see how a major exhibition is hung, and also to hear the thoughts of ROI members. Further to this, it was really important for us to engage with them, as encouraging young artists like these is vital to the future of our organisation.'

Vice President Adebanji agreed: 'It was a great opportunity for us. I wish they asked more questions! It was a delight to answer the questions they asked. It really showed their enthusiasm and willingness to find out things, and get a few clarifications about the professional art world. A handful of them instantly followed me on Instagram and were raving about the inspiration they received. They were very grateful, and I think we found it important to reach out to this group too. It was a privilege for us, and I wish I'd had an opportunity like that in the early stages of my career.'

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