Group Exhibition April 2016

Photographs by Contemporary North West : Lytham Heritage Centre

How time flies. I was taken aback for a moment when Ian Maxwell, in passing the convenor’s baton to Alan Cameron, told us that he had been involved with the group for seven years (and I remember a smaller number of us meeting in Andy Biggs’ home for a couple of years before that first formal gathering at Days Inn, Charnock Richard). An early project for involving the wider group had been the publication of a Blurb Book, with Andy Biggs co-ordinating. Eleven of the group participated with six images on a theme of their choosing and ‘Personal Views’ was subsequently published on 31st January 2013. Shortly thereafter I proposed that a natural follow on would be to hold an exhibition, but where and on what terms?

At that time I had been involved in exhibiting with another group, Lancashire Monochrome, and at the Lytham Heritage Centre (LHC). I therefore had an understanding of just what potential this venue offered for a less experienced group like CNW. The venue had the benefit of being hireable straightforwardly for a set price and the expense of £225 would work out at only the equivalent of our Blurb book if the same number of members took an equal share of that cost. Since I was already known to those responsible for the running of the LHC I offered to act as liaison, accepting that the lead-in time to hanging a CNW exhibition there would be up to two years or longer.

The risks of failing to successfully deliver such a proposition were, in my opinion, quite small. Key to this were the attributes of the venue itself in affording flexible spaces that could look filled with as few as forty framed prints, while also having the capacity to hang one hundred 20x16 inch sized frames (each requiring only to be conventionally strung, making hanging on the vertical wires very easy). The venue itself was in a former bank, well-positioned within the main shopping centre serving Lytham. Open six days a week (only closed on a Monday) and well staffed with its own volunteers the premises are established as a sub-regional venue for a wide range of art and craft shows. LHC itself distributes posters of whatever is currently showing to another 60 public venues within the natural compass of the Fylde so any publicity or promotion CNW could undertake itself would be building on this base of awareness-raising.

The notion of exhibiting proved a popular one within CNW and eleven members came forward immediately to each offer a £10 deposit so we could secure the hire. It was decided that the nature of the photography submitted could be freely chosen within a limit of six frames. That initial expression of enthusiasm to do this together carried right through into all the key aspects of co-operation necessary to achieve a successful team effort.

The shared experience in holding our first group exhibition over the three weeks 5-24th April, 2016 has helped to further develop the feeling of mutual self-identity as CNW. All feel that the best investment of what we have learned is to now work collaboratively on a second exhibition project, perhaps around a theme. I have proposed: ‘The Unpromising Landscape’, a title everyone feels offers sufficient scope fin its interpretation for each member to work within. On behalf of the group I am now liaising with people I know who are responsible for programming public exhibition venues in Lancashire with regard to exploring the possibilities as to where and when our future themed showing may be placed. I very much look forward to the next CNW public show.

Keith Launchbury