In general people will assume that if you are an artist you therefore exhibit your art in galleries.
For those of us who design and make installed architectural artwork this is not necessarily the case.
The fact that one’s work is in the public domain usually forms the biggest gift to the widest audience and for the longest time; in essense a permanent exhibition.
During my career I have only very rarely exhibited in galleries. Many of my autonomous pieces are created as experimental works, and are often kept at the studio to serve as springboards to future installed commissions. Within these pieces I have poured inventiveness and ideas destined for larger works. This inspires me, so I keep these works around.
A local exhibition I took part in in 1997 at Pallant House Gallery stands out for me. It was called called ‘Eight by Eight’ .
‘Eight by Eight’ was inspired by an ingenius exhibition called ‘The Thirty Four Gallery’ that took place between the wars in 1934, and contained the works of leading and lesser known artists at the time. It included: Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore but to name a few notables. The 1934 collection of works were miniature artworks – such as could be transported in a suitcase. It was presented as a miniature gallery of modern art. Pallant House displayed 25 of the original Thirty Four Gallery pieces. At the same time the inventive concept was extended into its own exhibition of leading and lesser-known artists.
In 1997 I had not long recieved a grant from the Prince’s Trust for my stained glass studio. I was invited to exhibit two pieces of 8 inch x 8 inch glasswork. At the private view I recall two men looking at my wall mounted pieces and turning to one another with raised eyebrows – what was decorative glass doing in a main stream gallery? These were were the days when art and craft were poles apart.
Just as in 1934, this ‘Eight by Eight’ exhibition featured works from leading and lesser-known names, some of the notable participants this time were Maggi Hambling, Peter Blake, Beryl Cook and David Bowie.
In 2004 I organised the first contemporary exhibition held by The British Society of Master Glass Painters. I remember working for many months on the event, not alone, but with the help of other enthusiastic members.
The exhibition was called ’30 x 30′ and it was held at The Cochrane Gallery in Southampton Row, London (sadly no longer a gallery), next to the then Central St Martins.
The exhibition of 30cm x 30cm glassworks attracted a diverse collection of pieces from all over the country. The small scale of each intense work allowed artwork submissions to travel to us from far and wide. The festival atmosphere at the private view was wonderful.
The BSMGP repeated this exhibition format in 2009, with ’40 x 40′.
You can see my exhibits from both BSMGP exhibitions below.
Mel Howse 2004. Title: ‘Antidote’. Sandblasted glass and flicked glass paint.
Mel Howse 2009. Title: ‘Sound and Silence’. Float glass, silver nitrate stain, vitreous enamel and gold lustre.
 Eight by Eight exhibition Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, United Kingdom held 5 August to 11 October 1997