It has long been a dream / bucket list item for me to have my own photography exhibition. In 2021, I finally achieved my ambition 😀
Origins of the exhibition
In my backyard began as a personal project to document the immediate surroundings of my current home. I was conscious that while we may remember the general view, the details of this central part of our everyday lives are quickly forgotten once we move away. Yet this is one of the most important canvases against which we play out our lives!
I originally came up with the idea many years ago while living in Melbourne, Australia. That said, I’m ashamed to admit that I never took a single photograph despite moving house three times.
I finally got my act together upon moving to Nuuk – Greenland’s stunning capital city – in 2019. I’d developed an interest in trying to be more mindful in my daily life and had just devoured Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing – an inspirational book that re-ignited my passion for the project.
The evolution of the project
I decided to expand the project into a collaborative photography exhibition when I saw the incredible talent of many of the local photographers in Nuuk (thank you Instagram)! At the same time, I realised that by inviting others to participate, the project would provide unique and very personal views of the city as told through the lives of several of Nuuk’s residents. It also opened up the possibility that this little personal project could have a wider impact – hopefully inspiring others to pay more attention to what surrounds them every day.
I enlisted 10 of Nuuk’s best photographers (5 Greenlandic and 5 internationals who call Nuuk home) and challenged them to showcase the urban beauty of their “backyard” – defined as the area within 300m of their home. Aside from the specified distance from their front door, there were no other instructions given. Each photographer interpreted the theme as they wished, selected 5 images to represent their backyard, and provided a short explanation for why they chose those images.
Meanwhile, I’d secured support from Nuutoqaq – Nuuk’s local museum (hosting the exhibition), Rene Design (a local company that printed the exhibition and designed the posters, flyers and exhibition brochure), and the Nuuk Local Committee (funding to cover printing and promotional costs).
Preparing for the exhibition opening
If you want to find out what is going on in Nuuk, you have two options. Monitor several Facebook feeds (if you aren’t on Facebook in Greenland, you’ll definitely be missing out on a lot of information), or check out the notices and posters that are stuck up in all the bus stops around town. I utilized both to generate interest in the exhibition.
We created 10 different posters – one for each photographer – and displayed them in all of the 56 bus stops around town. The thinking was that if you see the same poster over and over, you quickly stop paying attention. But by having 10 different images for the same event – people would be more likely to stop and read about it on multiple occasions.
It also helps that Nuuk is a small city and everybody knows everybody – so by including the names of the photographers we were hoping to entice people to come see their friends’ work.
We also created a massive poster to hang on the most used bus stop in town – the one outside the large Brugseni supermarket in the main street. It features all 10 of the poster images and I just love it! I’d never seen a poster of that size before in Nuuk – so we are lifting the bar on future advertising campaigns around town 😊
Then there were the flyers and several social media posts that we shared as much as possible.
Hanging the photography exhibition
A few days before the opening, I headed to Nuuk (I now live in Sisimiut) to hang the exhibition. Me being me (I’m an astrophysicist by training) – I started out measuring everything exactly with a very formal layout. Fortunately, the curator saved me from myself by suggesting that a more “organic” layout might be more dynamic. Oh yes! The whole thing went much faster when I adopted that strategy – making sure each piece was level, but then eyeballing patterns of hanging and distances.
The exhibition opening
The In my backyard exhibition opened on the 3rd October, 2021. The opening was the largest the Nuuk Local Museum had had for a long time and apparently quite a different crowd than what normally attend these events.
I even got to do a little speech 😀 I do miss giving talks!
A lot of the people I know in Nuuk passed through during the afternoon and it was wonderful to see everyone. I had a lot of comments on how interesting the idea was and the stunning quality of photography on display. Several people even asked if we were going to sell the prints.
It was an amazing experience! Also very satisfying to see it all come together and have it be so well received.
Come see my photography exhibition!
If you are passing through Nuuk before 31st January 2022 – make sure you stop by and check In my backyard out 😀
I already have another photography exhibition idea in mind … this time a solo one. Let’s see how that one works out in the next couple of years.