Installation week! It has been a busy week getting everything ready for the opening on Friday. Monday was a very long day! Last minute preparations had to be done including printing out and cutting our passport postcards. This had on it our QR code which would take the visitor to our blog either in the exhibition itself or at home – extending our exhibition experience. We stamped these cards on the back to make them look more like a passport. We also printed out our translation pages. In the end we printed out a Chinese, Spanish and Italian version of our text because these languages were some of the most popular on our course. It would have been nice to print these on cream coloured card in order to tie in with our theme of the bigger panels, but cream coloured card was not available. Also, we chose the colour scheme for the panels to not only tie in with the jar but to also to aid those with visual impairments or learning disabilities. However, we managed to use the same font and colour for the text. The last thing that we printed was the sheets for the interactive that allowed people to draw what food they would want to bring from home.
We had already pre-cut out sheets of vinyl for inside and outside the case but we had to wait to put these in and onto the case because the glass cleaner was strong and would disturb people within the office where our case sat. This was, as we were reminded, part of the task. We had to set up an exhibition but consider the physical space that we were installing in. We waited until we were able to do this and began by cleaning inside the case and attaching the vinyl to the inside. We were able to do this by wrapping the sheets of vinyl around each individual board and keep them in place by using Velcro. Once this was done and we had cleaned the glass, we began to stick the vinyl to the outside of the case. We had tested how the vinyl would stick to the glass and the plastic and how it would peel off. This test allowed us to double check that material was suitable to put on the case and also allowed us to see how it would act when installing. One member of the group made some fantastic details that accented cupboards and panels on the base and front of the case.
We are glad that we had the opportunity to do this on the Monday evening because to complete it all took three hours, which would have meant that everything would have been delayed and over run the next day.
Tuesday was our installation day. Because of the vibrations that would be caused, we decided to complete all of the drilling and installation of the interactive first. Once this was done, we could then focus more on our case. We put in all of the food stuffs that we had collected (ensuring that the paint was dry and the lids were on). Only when everything was in and we were happy did we go to get our object. We had a stand made for us because the object on its own would roll and would not be stable or safe to display. We made sure that the route was clear and that the place where the jar would be was ready (we had previously made checks to confirm that the case was ok to put our jar within e.g. lux levels and RH). We installed jar but decided that we would like to put it on the opposite side of the case. Looking back, I should have insisted that all involved should have worn gloves, as some moved the jar without them on. This is to ensure that the object was moved in a safer, better way. It may seem over the top because we were moving the object a matter of inches but I feel that object safety should be paramount.
But in the end everything was installed well and although we did run over our 2 hours, it was only by ½ an hour and it was not as a result of lack of preparation. I believe that everything we could have prepared for and done in advance we did.
Friday was our exhibition opening and I would just like to take the time to congratulate all of the other exhibits. All of the groups worked hard and the result was a colourful, informative and creative exhibition. We received positive reviews for our display. It looked striking and different from the other displays. But there were elements that, if we could adjust, I would like to. Firstly, a few people said that our jar got lost within the display with all of the other boxes with their bright colours. Although the lights hadn’t been turned on yet, when they were, I saw the issue. We had two lights directly over the botija but a coffee jar was right above it and absorbing some of the light. Therefore, it was not spotlight very well. I think what we could have done to ensure that the light passes through onto the object more is to push some of the objects on the top shelf back. We could also have lit it from below in order to further make it stand out. As it is made of ceramic, the botija can cope with high levels of lux. I feel that we did not really have a discussion about the lighting but I feel that this could have helped us to make the jar stand out a bit more. The other element that I would adjust would be the height of the interactive. The main audience who would see our exhibit would be our peers, but we tried to make it family friendly and accessible to all. Our shelf for the interactive, while on our knees we could still see it, was on reflection too high for a child to interact with it on their own terms. I know we had limited space and so had to hang the pens/ sheets from a hook that we brought, but these were well out of reach to children and those in wheel chairs and would have required assistance in making them accessible. We did put some pens and sheets on the table ready for people, but we are not going to be there all the time to do this. I know we had limited space but I feel that lowering both aspects could have made a big difference.
This project has challenged me to be creative, organised and pragmatic. I took the role of project manager because I wanted to challenge myself and lead a team. I had never done this in this capacity before, neither had I had any experience with exhibitions. I was thus relying on members of my group with experience, teaching me and guiding me if I was going wrong. I feel that I was a fair project manager who always tried to ensure that everyone understood what was happening, everyone was involved in the project and decision making and that we made decisions as a team. I developed my listening skills, becoming more of an active listener. I think I need to develop more confidence in challenging anything that I perceive to be wrong or chasing up on anything that is late or needs doing. But our group was a mix of outgoing and more introverted individuals and I sincerely hope that I allowed everyone to be heard and appreciated. I think my organising at the beginning was good but when it came to the end, I stopped doing the daily meeting plans because a lot of the jobs were small tasks and events change quickly. I think I would like to develop my planning and organising within this sort of environment as, although we completed everything we want to, I feel that sometimes I could not plan a session or the installation thoroughly because events had to be flexible and fluid. But in a way, it has taught me to think and plan on my feet a bit more and to try and see the next steps in a changing environment.
Thank you to everyone who has read this blog series and I hope you will continue to read them in the future.