Gallery 37: The finale performance

Welcome back to the Gallery 37 blog. This is the final post, covering the last week of our four week stint within the National Museum of Scotland.  This instalment has been written a few days after our showcase event as the final week was nonstop and could be described with words like: busy, hectic, full on, EMOTIONAL!

With our exhibition and performance day looming on Thursday 8 August there was an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality to proceedings as we strived to get as many of the unique ideas developed into real life pieces of art. With just two days to refine and mould the final ideas of the piece, the atmosphere became very professional.  Participants who three weeks previously arrived with no idea of the challenges ahead, worked hard to develop their skills and confidence, and in the final days transformed into busy artists contributing to a focused creative environment.

Members of the Gallery 37 collective
Members of the Gallery 37 collective in the Grand Gallery.

By the Wednesday the participants had viewed the showcase and exhibition space, which really helped them to understand how far they had come and how big the challenge of the next two days really was. Lists were made and targets were ticked off and as a unit we pushed together towards the finish line, with the animation group furiously editing material, the musicians recording their tracks, visual arts creating masses of ornate items and the performers desperately trying to get their routines and nerves under control.

Participants with the coconut cup in the Discoveries gallery
Participants with the coconut cup in the Discoveries gallery. The Cup was the theme of the exhibition and performance.

Finally Thursday arrived – Showtime! As a tutor, the performance day is my favourite. It’s what we work towards and it’s the big pay off. It’s the day in which you get to watch miracles happening. You witness participants perform at levels they never thought possible three weeks beforehand. The showcase event brings with it lots of successes and unique moments. Whether it be a progression like performing a solo act in front of an audience of 100 people, or a participant who has struggled with their confidence speaking openly to new people and audience members, it’s these moments that show the real difference the programme makes to the young people participating.

Most of all, what I like about the final day and the pressure it brings is the way in which it pulls you together as a group. For three weeks the young people have been very individual, into their own things, possibly not that aware of the whole team. However, when it comes down to the crunch before show time, they are all in the same position. They all feel nervous and they all worry. It’s this common bond that helps them develop as a unit. This is when you see the whole team forming and the Gallery 37 magic taking place.

The doors opened and our audience flooded in for an action-packed afternoon of exhibitions and performances. The event started with the audience being welcomed into a gallery setting. Within the gallery there were pieces of art displayed, animations on screens and laptops, music playing in secluded areas and performances happening all around. People were left to explore the young people’s work and the whole vibe of the exhibition was incredibly interactive. There were opportunities to pick work up, look through it, listen to it, feel, touch and yes, even in one performance which included a tea ceremony, taste it!

Artwork in the exhibition
Artwork in the exhibition.
Models created by the group
Animation models created by the group in the exhibition.
Watching an animation in the exhibition
Watching an animation in the exhibition.
Costumes created by the group
Costumes created by the group.

The time in the exhibition space passed in a blur of colour, song, music and movement. Audience members young and old were carried away in the wealth of work and opportunity to engage. Time seemed to pass in an instant and then the audience were transported into the main auditorium.

Entering the auditorium
The audience file into the auditorium, beside an art installation created by the group.

Upon entering this new space, the audience were each given an origami crane, a unique memento of their experience. They then settled down to the show, which kicked off with a debuting stage magician – The Marvellous Adam. This was then followed by an animation that showcased and featured work from all of the young animators, before the show moved on to a more extravagant note with the musicians and performance groups taking turns to perform pieces of work that took the audience through a range of energies and emotions.  We were able to show a huge amount of work this year, testament to the ability that our young people have developed over the four weeks. The setting of the Museum was a great finale space and one which has helped throughout the process as it has so much inspiration around every corner.

Singing performance
Singing performance.
Singing performance
Singing performance.

Before we knew it the day was over, and the audience went off, inspired by the energy and creative spirit. Each and every young person was absolutely full of adrenalin and smiling from ear to ear. Many of our young people will go on to try new things in life, be it at school, college or work, and indeed some may come back next year. But I am confident that when they look back on the summer of 2013 and the four weeks they spent with Impact Arts inside the National Museum of Scotland, they will have feelings of pride and happiness at the new people they met and the new skills they discovered within themselves.

Another massively successful Gallery 37. We look forward to next year’s group and a whole new creative experience.

Members of the group in the Grand Gallery
Members of the group in the Grand Gallery.

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