SICA at West Bristol Arts Trail 2016

Back in the cold winter months of this year four of us, Lucianne Lassalle, Delia Whitbread, Sophia Hughes and myself signed up to exhibit at the 2016 West Bristol Art Trail. We called ourselves the SICA Group and registered the Subud Hall as our venue for a group show.

See photographs of the exhibition

In the past we have had SICA shows at the Bristol Hall and know that the upstairs of the building is a wonderful light-filled space. A space that lends itself well to mixed shows of two dimensional and three dimensional art and also has a permanent hanging system for pictures. What has always been a problem is getting the footfall, the public through the doors. Tucked away in the back streets near the Clifton Downs the hall can be hard to find and as a small organisation SICA Britain does not have the wherewithal to run a big publicity campaign. A possible answer seemed to be taking part in an already established event; Bristol has many open studio and art trail exhibitions that take place across the year.  So we signed up, submitted our details and waited.

Come September I started preparing for the show, photographs needed selecting, printing, framing. Post cards with details of my website need producing, prices setting, biography writing, there is a lot of work putting a show together. I was exhibiting six large photographs, three abstracts derived from road markings and three plant portraits.

On the thirteenth of October we started hanging the show. The large back wall of the hall was filled with Sophia’s abstract paintings, Delia’s stained glass works glowed in the tall windows,  Lucianne’s powerful sculptures populated the floor space and I hung my photographs in two large alcoves that neatly separated the very different styles of work. The overall effect in the room was strong, it felt like a proper professional show. The only question was would anyone come?

I guess I need not have worried about footfall. A few weeks before the arts trail I was in the Clifton district of Bristol, hung right across one of the main streets was a huge banner announcing the show; this arts trail has profile.

The hall looked its best, awash with light, welcoming visitors to browse the works on display. Over the weekend of the trail we kept a tally on numbers, around three hundred people came through the door. Talking to visitors was fun and we were all asked at points about Subud. I found it surprisingly easy to explain which I put down to the relaxed and friendly atmosphere over the weekend.

It was fascinating seeing and hearing how people reacted to my work. Some would breeze by others would spend time. Assumptions I made about which of my pictures would spark the most interest were confounded and I was surprised by which ones did. Although I did not sell any work the others did and I have made a contact that might lead to a new project which is equally important.

So from a SICA point of view what lessons does this experience offer? That being part of a non-Subud arts event is no bad thing. The organisation of the arts trail worked for us, a small exhibitors fee bought us far more publicity than we could afford otherwise. The positive responses to our work from so many people has increased my confidence. Getting out of the Subud “ghetto” and being part of the world opens up more opportunities.

Marius Grose

[See a portfolio of the pictures of the SICA art exhibition here]