What a week I’ve had! Just back from my first time exhibiting at MIWAS which is probably the largest wildlife art exhibition in Europe. Our paintings were all delivered to the venue, Rookesbury Park Manor on Tuesday so the exhibition could be hung in time for the opening on Thursday evening at 7pm.
It all started for me on Wednesday evening, being lucky to see Kate Bush in concert in London! I have to admit to not being a ‘Kate Bush Superfan’ like my husband, but the opportunity to see such an icon was not to be missed! I was not disappointed – the concert was astounding and unexpectedly inspiring for my art. (More on that in a future blog post!) My next challenge was to drive myself out of London to Wickham. Once I reached the M4 I breathed a sigh of relief and proceeded to enjoy the scenery during my drive to Wickham – I arrived on Thursday afternoon and the first person I bumped into was Martin Rumary who had delivered my paintings for me. Martin took me for a sneaky peek around to show me where my paintings had been hung before I set off to find my hotel.
Later, I met up with friends and fellow artists, Carol Bonsor and Vic Bearcroft and together we drove to Rookesbury Park, all feeling a mixture of nervous and excited anticipation of the Preview Event.
It was great to see lots of guests admiring all the art and to catch up with friends and acquaintances from last year’s exhibition. It was a real buzz seeing my paintings hanging as part of such an amazing exhibition. Pip McGarry made an opening speech and introduced special guest, John ‘The Hammer’ Cameron who announced the award winners – So congratulations to all the winners, especially Claudia Hahn, Rob Braybrooks and Paul Matthews!
Friday morning I helped Vic set up his stand in the art market. This is my favourite area of the exhibition where you can meet artists and watch them working on their latest piece of work. As well as demonstrating, most artists sell prints and cards along side a few original works, which is great if you want to take home your favourite piece of art but can’t afford to buy the original! Once the stand was set up, I went off to the main exhibition hall to do my stint of stewarding. Wearing a yellow MIWAS sash and carrying a handful of catalogues, it was an insigtful experience watching the visitors reactions to the artworks on display – especially to my own paintings! It was also a great opportunity to have a really good look at the art in the rooms where I was stewarding.
I spent the remainder of the afternoon in the art market, catching up with the artists I’d met last year and meeting some new ones! A group of us went to a local Thai restaurant for a delicious bite to eat, then the evening continued into a second preview.
Saturday was probably my best day. Surrounded by incredible art, immersed in an environment where everyone is interested in art and wildlife – just like paradise for me! Constantly chatting, discussing, bouncing ideas with like-minded people was a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring experience. The highlight of my day came as a surprise when I found out one of my paintings had sold!!! I made a dash to the main exhibition to take a photo of my ‘red dot’!!
It’s hard to describe the feeling inside when you realise someone has paid good money for an original painting you have created from your heart and soul. A rush of emotion – elation and pride, but somehow, almost a hint of sadness to see it go. It’s funny how your personal favourites always seem to sell quickest (it was my very favourite of the four paintings on display.) I’m sure others will agree, as artists, we wear our heart on our sleeve and each painting we create contains a little piece of us.
There was one very special visitor who I was lucky to be introduced to – ‘Steve the Skunk’, brought by her owner, Adam who kindly allowed me a cuddle with his furry companion. Such a cutie with a sweet face, I had to draw a sketch in the evening!
Sunday, the final day of the exhibition seemed to pass in a flash! More socialising, networking and watching artists at work – fascinating to see images appear out of the paper over the 3 days. Before long, 5pm had arrived and it was time to pack up and collect our paintings to take home, and to say lots of goodbyes. After only 3 days, I felt a real sense of belonging – I’ve made so many lovely new friends and I’m already looking forward to next year’s exhibition. I will make sure I get my application for the Art Market in EARLY this year so I can have a stand of my own!
Huge thanks to Vic Bearcroft for letting me hang out on his stand and to all the other artists who made me so welcome at this wonderful event…Bring on MIWAS 2015!!!! 😀