The first Instagram exhibition!? May I blow my own trumpet?

There is a saying in Australia, to blow one’s own trumpet. It means to say self-gratifying statements to raise one’s ego or status. It is looked down upon and seen as egotistical. Therefore if this offends please tune out now or if you are happy to placate me, then please keep reading.

August 2014 I curated an exhibition called “#Fridaysketchclub”. It was held at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, Australia. The premise was an international drawing exhibition showcasing the work of artists who all meet through the social media platform, INSTAGRAM. At the time I did not assume that we were the first group to organize such a show therefore didn’t publicize accordingly. How egotistical would that have been!? Little ‘ol me in country Australia organizing the first ever Instagram exhibition. It is now coming to light that perhaps we were “one of the first”. A gallery in America did a similar show in 2012. Now a gallery in London, The Unit Gallery, is claiming to be ‘the first ‘Instagram exhibition.

A little background information about our show.  In March 2014 a fellow Instagram artist friend, Jon Hayes (@j.hayesart) and I had the idea of creating a hashtag for artist friends- #fridaysketchclub. The idea was to create a drawing or sketch on a Friday. Hashtag the work, post it on Instagram, then over the weekend look at the hashtag and comment on the work of a fellow artist. Non-competitive, a safe and happy environment for like-minded people to connect through their love of art. During this process I had the idea of an exhibition. I organized a meeting with Brad Franks, the manager at Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre. After pitching my idea, he graciously offered me an exhibition slot in August 2014. It was a boon as my fellow artist friends were creating beautiful work and this was a wonderful time for a show.

Inviting my friends to take part, 11 committed to the idea and the exhibition coordination was in full swing.  Although I was excited, I was just about to embark on a month long artist residency in Italy so the timing was challenging. Arriving in Italy I found that I could not use my email and laptop so I had to coordinate the entire exhibition via Instagram. My artist friends were amazing and very encouraging. Each artist, who I have never met, trusted me and I was very appreciative of the support.

The artists included: Jon Hayes (USA), Paul Mordetsky (USA), Jakob Pinto (USA), Joy Thomas (USA), Curtis Jensen (USA),  Brian Martin (USA), Caragh Savage (UK), Jerome Royer (France), Anne Kristensen (Norway), Terge Thomassen (Norway), Reza Doust (Canada) and myself. Each artist sent 2 works. I framed all the works and with the help of the gallery we hung the show.

#fridaysketchclub exhibition Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre August 2014

#fridaysketchclub exhibition Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre August 2014

Fast track to a few months ago and my group of passionate Friday Sketch Clubbers contacted The Unit Gallery and the curator to explain that they were not the first Instagram exhibition. A small social media confrontation ensued and we all finally came to an agreement that neither was the first. Naturally I thought they would do the gentlemanly thing and change their PR but no. Now they have blocked all my friends from their Instagram account. Why block us? What are they trying to hide?

I know we are a smaller group of artists who don’t have the support of a so-called high profile London gallery but we do have a voice and we do count. Recognition should be given when it’s due and this is such a case.

You have kept reading this blog so you must feel the need to support our cause and blow our trumpets. Please help give our group the recognition we deserve. Your voice counts!

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Bec x