Supporting essay to Head Chef collection exhibition:
Exhibiting a collection of sorts in a gallery space (Building 76 foyer)
I have no knowledge on collections and the way that they are presented to others beyond a simple box in your bedroom. I decided to do a general Pinterest board on collections to get an idea of what I could collect or to get inspiration to help me see that I already have an existing collection.
Reflective notes on the Pinterest board:
From getting some inspiration, I need to decide on what my collection would be of and how I would exhibit the collection within the gallery space.
I’ve decided on exhibiting a collection of family recipes. In making this decision, I thought that I wanted to do a collection that had some connection to my family because I felt that it would link into my photograph used for Task 1 which was significant because of it’s relation to my family. I wanted to collect something to do with my family but that concept surely was not the first thing to come to mind.
I eventually decided to chose to do a collection of family recipes. This is a pre-exisitng collection within my family that my grandmother started in 1960. I chose to do the family recipes because food is such a central factor in my immediate family and extended family. Whether it’s a celebration, sad event or just a gathering, food is always present and is given so much attention. The entire day leading up to whichever event, will be devoted to preparing and cooking the food. The food of which is always taken from the family recipe book. By now, my mother, grandmother and aunts know the recipes off by heart but someday my brother, cousins and I will know them too and pass them down just like my grandmother passed it down to my mother and her siblings. My grandmother is seen as the matriarch of my family. The level of respect, love and adoration that my entire family has for her is incomparable. She is constantly giving us advice and lectures when they’re needed, and when they’re not. During those, she commonly makes reference to food and these family recipes specifically. Due to that, I constantly would say that she knows and gives us the instructions (the recipes) to cook up a beautiful life
Exhibiting these recipes will be a prideful momens and my anticipation for the exhibition is high.
I looked at some images of recipes to see if I could get some inspiration. However, I found that there was very few examples which validated my decision to exhibit my family recipes.
Aesthetic of the Collection
I then decided to look into how I can present and layout my recipes in a way that is aesthetically pleasing but also shows the value they have through its aesthetic.
I chose the highlighted idea of layout and presentation: A white frame with 9 or 12 of the recipes in either a 3 x 3 formation or 3 x 4. This idea is the most appealing to me because of its simplicity. I feel that the simplicity of the aesthetic puts emphasis on the recipes themselves otherwise the aesthetic would distract from the recipes.
From my Pinterest board “PP In Class – Task 2 – Collections”, there was an image (shown below) that I pinned containing paper. This image came back into my mind once I had decided on the layout because I feel like I could possibly replicate the layout of the image into my exhibition.
But after analysing the mockup sketch, I feel that the layout would contradict my reasoning in deciding on the initial layout; it’s too hectic and distracts from the recipes themselves. I say this because in the Pinterest image, my attention is on how the look of the layout is so different and eye-catching as opposed to what the papers are actually about.
So I’ve decided to go back to my initial layout decision
Now that I’ve decided on the layout, I’m starting to think about what the recipes themselves will look like within the frame.
I have established through discussions with my family, that it would be best to not display the physical recipes but rather copies of the physical recipes. This is because my family is worried about the recipes being ruined or lost somehow which I can understand.
Having copies of the recipes means that the aesthetic of the recipes within the frame could be altered. Since it will be copies, I’m wanting to experiment with starting the collection with the front cover of the book and ending it with the back of the book. With the recipes themselves, my initial thought was to photocopy and then burn them to show the age of the recipes.
I don’t like the aesthetic of the burning of them recipes because I feel that it makes the recipes look fake. It can clearly be seen that the burning is an after thought and is not apart of the original. Also, I don’t like the way the photocopies look because I feel like it doesn’t capture the age and condition on the recipes. For these reasons, I will not be burning or photocopying the recipes.
Instead, I will take photos of the recipes and have the images of them be displayed in the exhibit.
I then took the background out of the images. The images below are the final images of the recipes.
I really appreciate the way the images have turned out. I feel that the lighting used emphasises the age of the recipes because it gives the images a sepia effect, and I typically associate the sepia effect with vintage/ageing images. I find that the images are clear enough to read the recipes while capturing the conditions on the recipes accurately without any maskings.The images give off the impression that they’re not images, they look realistic and I feel that they will look good when exhibited.
Now that I have my images, I can experiment with different layouts of the images for the exhibition
After playing around with a few different layouts, I have decided that for the exhibition I will use the Layout Concept 2. I think that the two rows of four look better than two rows of five. I feel that two rows of five seem somewhat crowded
I then went on to assemble my collection and display it in the way I specified previously. I first decided to collate the images onto one sheet of paper to keep the tidiness and simplicity of the work. After first printing the collection onto A4 and the A3, I decided that this would be done on A2 sized paper (420 mm x 594 mm) because that way the images would be larger which increases the legibility. Once printed, I sought after a white A2 frame for the collection to sit in. White because of the cleanliness it brings to the aesthetic of the entire collection.
I then wanted to come up with a name for my collection. I want to reference my grandmother somehow since she is the one who started the collection over 40 years ago. I first thought of “The Alchemist” or just “Alchemist” but I feel that they’re too mysterious and distract from the collection. Then I went on to think of names along the lines of “Queen Bee” but I feel that it doesn’t relate to the collection. I want a name that will relate and play off the collection of recipes.
I have decided that the collection will be called “Head Chef”. My grandmother being the head chef. The head chef in relation to our family and in relation to when we’re all cooking together as a family. I think of my grandmother as being the head chef of life because she has cooked up the best life for her and her family. She conjured up some beauty, and the recipes are like instructions on how the rest of us can follow suite.
Now that I have the aesthetic of my collection all sorted, I need to consider the exhibition space we were given. We were given the foyer area of Building 76 for our exhibition.
Considering the layout of the space and thinking about the minimilistic aesthetic of the presentation Im after, I considered the following things:
- I want there to be an adequate amount of light hitting the frame because the recipes are rather dark in its tone because of it’s age
- Be surrounded by other collections that are not similar in the aesthetic of their presentation
- Hang it up with a nail
- Be positioned on the softer walls so that the nail can go into the wall easier
In figuring out where I would hang my framed collection, I narrowed it down to two options
The first option, and my preferred spot, would be on the soft wall in front of the one working light. I think that the soft wall will help with nailing the frame up because the nail would go into the wall easier. My concern is that the nail would droop with the weight of the frame if the wall is too soft. The working light will ensure that there is constant light on the framing to ensure the colour is always right. The second option is on the hard wall. Even though, the nailing of the frame would be difficult I like that it’s a central position in the room.
The final exhibition of the my collection was done on Thursday 1st June. I ended up hanging my frame in the position of my second preference because it had an aesthetic correlation with the surrounding collections. But the aesthetic correlation wasn’t to the point that I was unhappy with the position of my collection. The correlation was in the colour, the brown of the paper linked in with the neighbouring collection of wood texture of the skateboarding.
Overall, I found this task to be very insightful and made me feel prideful. I felt as if I gained insight into the methods of curating an exhibition. I feel that by learning the methods of curating an exhibition, I will be able to implement the gained knowledge into future exhibitions that I do. For example, Im currently unsure if I want to be a graphic designer or photographer for my future job but I am sure that some day I want to hold exhibitions for whatever work it is that I create. So by having an insight into the methods of curating now already, I feel prepared to do in again in the future.
This task also made me feel prideful because I was displaying sacred family recipes that I am extremely proud of. I am proud of the history of them and the significance that they have to my family. Displaying them, and having people outside of my family view them, is something that I take great pride in.
Choosing a significant item from the Noho Marae (Week 5), we then had to exhibit the item with a wall label. I found the task to be rather exciting because it felt as though we were actual practicing artists exhibiting a piece.
My chosen item:
The item that I chose that is of significance to me is the photograph below. The significance of the photograph is not just the photograph itself, but the writing on the back which is what makes it so special to me. The photograph was taken in 2003, two years prior to my family and I moving from South Africa to New Zealand. And was taken for my grandmother as a christmas gift for a picture of all her grandkids at the time. Before leaving South Africa, my grandmother handed me this photograph and on the back she had written a note for me. Knowing how much the photograph meant to my grandmother and her giving it to me regardless, makes this standout beyond measure when compared to any other special items in my possession.
With the item being double-sided, and the significance of the item is on both sides rather than one, I decided that I would display a scanned in version of the photograph instead of the physical photograph.
I then had to decide where I would place my display within the provided cabinet. With there already being some items in the cabinet at the time, I decided to place mine in an empty area so that it wasn’t surrounded by any other pieces, for the time being at least. With it being in an empty area, I feel that it won’t be overshadowed by other items that are more in-depth in its significance because I feel that my item is so important to me that sharing it makes me feel vulnerable because I haven’t shared it before. Being that I feel vulnerable about it, if it were to be overshadowed rather than side-by-side with other pieces, I fear that I’ll feel hurt. I also placed the item in the top right area of the space because that way it is the first display looked at when looking at that particular cabinet due to our eyes naturally reading and viewing from right to left.