I am a member of a fabulous group called Contemporary Quilters West - CQWest for short. It is a thriving group of very talented people all of whom love to make art with cloth and thread. Every other year the group has an exhibition of the newest work made by the members; the first was held at the West Barn in Bradford on Avon in 2014, and the second was in 2016 at Rook Lane Chapel in Frome. Both exhibitions were a tremendous success and a record of them is on the CQWest website here.
The next exhibition, Unfolding Stories 3, is in the planning stages and I am part of a group of members who have volunteered to organise it... and the first thing to arrange is a venue. This means visiting galleries and then applying to have an exhibition - something I have never done before. Fortunately, my good friend Liz Hewitt has, and she has given me lots of advice and assistance.
Many of the galleries I have approached have a formal application process which involves putting together a written proposal along with samples of work (usually photographs). Funny as it may sound, I have really enjoyed settling down and writing the applications. Fortunately, the group is large and there is no shortage of superb work to put forward, so that part of the job is easy. It is also easy to sing the praises of the group and make statements that might seem rather arrogant if I was writing about myself. It has been like pressing 'pause' and given me time to reflect on what the group does, why 'we' do it and how 'we' want the world outside of the group to see us.
Which brought me to the next part of the process - creating a visual portfolio of our work that could be easily sent to prospective venues. On the face of it this sounds easy; gather together some decent photos of our work and send them along.
Except a quick photo that someone took at an exhibition doesn't always show the work or the exhibition overall at its very best. What makes a nice memory or souvenir of the event for us on a personal level isn't the same as a photo which is trying to sell 'us' to a venue that can pick and choose who exhibits there. Dark or wonky photos with people, chairs pillars and the like obscuring the view aren't what is called for here. (Big lesson for me going forward in the photography department!) Sure, I can straighten them up, brighten them and crop them with some software, but there are limits to what that can do!
Also, even when you do have a nice, bright looking photo it needs to have been taken at a good enough resolution so the gallery can zoom in a little and see some detail. And that means large file sizes, which in turn means a big pain in the you-know-what when I want to send along a clean, simple and appealing application which is easy for the recipient to read and think 'Wow! This group is amazing - we must invite them!'
So it got me thinking - how can I combine lots of our photos (now straight and free from chairs, doors and people's bottoms) in one easy to view file or attachment that looks professional enough to convince a gallery to grant us an exhibition?
My first thought was a Powerpoint slideshow (probably showing my age here). When I was a teacher I used to use Powerpoint a lot and it is easy enough to upload heaps of photos and make a slick looking presentation. So far so good - but then the file size gets huge again and is no longer easy to attach in an email and if I start putting large files in drop boxes then people need to have an account with the drop box and it all gets complicated again. Another thing is the recipient needs to have the right software to view the slideshow, It is already too clunky.
Then I thought of YouTube. It is one of those things I probably see and use in some form or other most days - but I have never really thought about. When I search for something, up come the results then I click and play. Easy! It works on every device I have, and, as I have discovered, is free and simple to use and all you need is a link which I can put in a simple email.
So the next thing to do was learn how to make something I could upload to YouTube. And of course, I used a YouTube video to learn how to do it.... how appropriate!
Fortunately it isn't nearly as difficult as you might think - I chose to try this two step process:
Once you have some photos ready to use, open one of those pieces of software that comes on every windows PC, that you (and I) probably never paid any attention to .....Windows Live movie Maker.
Turns out all you do is drag and drop lots of photos into that big white box on the right, then fiddle about with them using the choices at the top of the screen, add some copyright free music if you wish, then save it all as a 'movie'.
Next, if you haven't already got one, open a free Google account (if you use Gmail you already have one) and then go to your YouTube account. I've used Gmail for years and never realised that it was quietly sitting there waiting for me to upload a video or two.
One way to find it is by clicking on those little squares at the top right of the screen once you are in your Gmail.
This will bring you to the YouTube Home screen.
To upload your 'movie' you click on that little upward pointing arrow at the top right of the screen and then follow the instructions.
All that is left to do then is click publish..... then sit back and enjoy your work.
Click the button below to watch the YouTube video of the last CQ West exhibition
I hope you enjoy watching, and if you have decide to add something to YouTube, please send me a link. I'd love to see what you create. I'm completely new to this!
Thanks for reading.