Kim Gould, Gallery & Exhibitions Development Officer, has worked at the Shire
Hall Gallery, Stafford for 22 years and is responsible for developing both the
exhibitions programme and the services offered to the public.
"I have been involved in the preparation and organisation of all the 21 Open
Art exhibitions, both at the old gallery and our current venue.
Putting the show together involves working with designers to produce all the
print and publicity material, marketing and PR, attracting sponsorship for the
prizes, overseeing the selection process, installation and hanging the
exhibition, liaising with artists and organising the Private View.
This year is the 21st Anniversary of the Staffordshire Open Art Exhibition.
The show is open to anyone born, living, working or studying in the County to
submit work for selection by independent judges. All the prizes are sponsored
by local businesses.
The first exhibition was in 1990 when we were known as Stafford Art Gallery
and located at The Green. Entries were limited to paintings, drawings and
prints and we were delighted by the number of entries we received.
The exhibition proved very popular with our visitors and has remained in the
Gallery programme ever since.
The Open is an important feature in the Gallery programme as it shows our
commitment to local artists and gives an opportunity to support and encourage
new talent as well as showcasing the work of more established artists.
Over the years we have tried to develop the exhibition in some way each year
to keep it fresh and to maintain the level of submissions.
The range of work now includes: photography, sculpture, 3D mixed media and
most recently film and animation. This has led to a much more representative
exhibition and reflects the wide range of creative practice within the County.
We have also introduced an under 16 section which is displayed in Stafford
Library in a bid to encourage artists of the future.
The exhibition relies on an independent panel of judges to select work and we
have been lucky enough to attract selectors with a wide range of knowledge and
experience including Brendan Neiland RA, Anthony Green RA and this year,
internationally acclaimed artist Rob Ryan.
Of course the exhibition is reliant on our sponsors for prize money and we
have built strong relationships with many businesses in the town who continue
to support us. The level of prize money has steadily risen over the years
which enables us to attract strong, high quality entries from a wide range of
artists and disciplines and results in an exhibition of which we can all be
As with any long running project, there have been highs and lows. The
exhibition has always been popular with artists and we have enjoyed seeing the
number of entries and artists taking part steadily rise - along with the
standard and range of work submitted.
There was one year though when I wondered if we would ever get through the
selection process! The two judges had great difficulty in reaching agreement
on what should be included - but we managed to find a way through and the show
The staff at the Gallery really look forward to the submission days and can't
wait to see what comes through the door. We of course all have our own
favourites and are interested to see if they get selected.
We know that many people each year are disappointed if they do not get their
work in, but that is the nature of the show, it is a competition.
The best advice I can give is that you should keep trying - often the prize
winners one year get rejected another. Don't give up - it could be your turn
Well, I'm looking forward to installing this years show, which is always a
challenge and as soon as it comes down we will start planning for 2012.