Woods Gallery 04 (The Dreams Already Around Us)

Some 21 years ago I was in a relationship where we both, for various reasons, wanted to run away from everything we knew.

Our dream took various forms, including a log cabin in Alaska or British Columbia, and a similarly remote beach side shack.

A common “vision within the vision” was simply sitting together outside around a bonfire in the evening, talking and dreaming, with no-one else around.

One evening we were walking across hilltops at dusk, somewhere fairly remote for Sussex, and stumbled across the embers of a bonfire. With a little encouragement and extra fuel we got it crackling more enthusiastically again, and sat around it, talking and dreaming, with no-one else around.

It dawned on us that evening that our dream was closer than we thought – we didn’t need to run away thousands of miles from home to make these precious moments happen. 

From then on it came somewhat symbolic for us. We recreated the experience with simple bonfires at home (usually with a barbecue or chiminea) and learned to make other versions of our own dreams, wherever we were.

But what has this got to do with my photography today? 

Well, recently I’ve been experimenting with prints of my photographs, really for the first time ever.

I’ve found a combination I really like – 8 x 6 inch black and white prints in 12 x 10 inch black frames, with a frame insert.

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The first photo I printed and framed looked great like this, but I still didn’t quite know what to do with it.

I considered (and am still considering) a photo book, but haven’t yet got past the self indulgence of the idea (in my eyes).

I thought about digital frames where I could rotate recent images, as this has worked very well with family photos recently. But after getting prints made, I knew that was the route I wanted to take.

Then another memory from my past came to me.

The first photographer I really studied in any depth was Alfred Stieglitz, maybe five years ago. His photographs impressed me, but perhaps even more than this, I was inspired by just how much he did to promote photography (and art generally) in the early 20th century.

Central to this was his formation of a gallery known originally as Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession then renamed simply as 291, from its address, 291 Fifth Avenue, New York.

The idea of a “little gallery” suddenly sparked an idea. I would turn a room of our house into a little gallery of my own, rather than have odd photos here and there in different rooms.

We’re fortunate to have a main bathroom upstairs and a second WC downstairs. It’s this second room that seemed obvious for the gallery, to be called Woods Gallery 04, based on our address.

It’s a work in progress.

I have five prints framed and hung, but one frame I’m not sure of and want to replace with two more of the 12 x 10 inch frames.

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It’ll be interesting to hear any comments from guests (though we don’t have many!) and just how it feels getting used to having a room full of my work. And how often I’ll want to rotate the images and replace them with new prints.

As with the hilltop bonfire two decades ago, I reminded that though I may not have a grand exhibition seen by thousands, I have my own little gallery, my own version of a dream.

For me, ever fiercely private and reclusive, this is quite a step.

Just as importantly it’s a reminder that our dreams are usually much closer than we imagine. We just have to find ways to make them happen, one small step at a time, and enjoy every moment we have along the way.

Do you have any of your own prints around your home (or indeed anyone else’s home)? What dreams do you have for your photography? 

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.

29 thoughts on “Woods Gallery 04 (The Dreams Already Around Us)”

  1. ( No ill will meant ) Forget pleasing other people, you like it you hang it . Old window frames, chicken wire and small clothes pins . Try it once it’s bad ass.

    1. A matrix of thin chicken wire with small clothes pins? Now that sounds interesting – my wife does graphic fabric art and she’ll be interested in trying this. Hmmm…maybe in a hinged shoji-screen thing. What size poultry netting do you use?

      I sometimes do a “float” mount – photo dry-mounted on a surround of black (or white) foam-core board; no other framing or embellishment.

      1. William, is the foam core board larger than the photo, so it provides a border, or is it smaller (or the same size) so you can’t see it face on, it just makes the photo float?

        1. I (mostly) have them extend beyond the edges of the print – a “matte board” effect. The print is (permanently) vacuum-mounted to the board. Some, though, are aligned with print edges and just float – depends on the color, dimensions, “feel” of the proposed hanging space. A floated print with no matte, frame, or border can look tacky, “amateurish.”

          It can be difficult to stabilize large pieces of foam core – for larger prints, flat wooden lath “stiffeners” are glued to the back to stop a tendency of the board to curve or bend, esp with large prints. I’ve done them as large as 24×30.

          This method can get … pricey.

          1. Intriguing! Have these been for your own private use, or for exhibitions of some kind?

            Years ago I experiment with painting for a while, and not being able to afford large canvases, bought sheets of hardboard. There were also issues with them flexing too much so I used to glue strips of wood around the border on the back of the picture to give it extra strength and stiffness. And to make it easier to hang on a nail!

          2. To Dan’s last query- originally done for a modest show at a small venue.

            Dan, I have found that placing the lathes longitudinally across the width of the board to be most effective in countering warp. Also convenient for placement of mounting bits.

  2. Hi Dan…. I have a friend who is heavily into print…. due to his quirkiness “all” the prints are hung on the ceiling… like you he has his gallery in the bathroom….. his name is Bryan and on the door he has a plaque saying ” Welcome to the W.C. Bryan Gallery”….. the point of putting the prints on the ceiling is so when folk use the “throne” they have something to look at….it’s always a excellent talking point… and it’s surprising how long folk spend in there….
    Enjoy your new gallery, I think if I was to go down this route of using a room in the house for hanging prints …. I’d always go down the route of going with a theme….but that’s just because of the OCD kicking in…
    Enjoy Dan…
    BR Lynd

    1. Hi Lynd, that ceiling gallery sounds a good idea, optimising space indeed! If I did that I think it’d have to be a in a bedroom where you can lay underneath and ponder the photos.

      Did you mean a theme for the prints in the gallery, or a theme for decorating the whole room?

  3. Dan, over the years I have had various photos of mine around the house and many of my photos are in my artist journals. I have some beach scenes on my writing desk. I am hoping for some new directions in my photography. I love being part of your blog with our weekly comments, Dan. My other creative interests seem to overshadow my photography in recent times xoxo susanJOY

    1. Susan, happy to have you here, and know that you are gaining something from it.

      A journal in as option for my photos, though I think I would just keep it simple and stich in the photos without any further embellishments.

      I do love the whole mixed media art journal idea though. Remember the Artist Trading Cards and Journey of Journals we did in the CCS days? I’ve been thinking about an updated version.

  4. Lynd, in my old house I had numerous cloud photos on the ceiling and walls of my sunroom. Now I have four cloud photos on the ceiling of my meditation room xoxo susanJOY

  5. In addition to the wall of photos I have mentioned before for my images, we also have something not dissimilar to the window-frame/chicken-wire idea. Our ‘guest book’ consists of a large old picture frame nicely worn and battered. I added a lattice of twine/string across the hole so that images of our visitors (taken with a modern Polaroid camera) can be slid into the overlapping lines; it’s a fun thing we inflict on our friends 🙂

    1. Regarding the guest book, do you have paying guests? Or is it just family and friends who stay occasionally?

      I really like the idea of a frame where you can easily insert and replace images. Like a digital frame that can cycle through images (we have our two for family photos set to change every five minutes) but with real prints.

      1. Ha ha no not running a hotel here 🙂 just any friends or family that come to the house.
        Another suggestion for you might be magnets. I seen those used will to temporarily mount photos to a metal plate and maybe that will suit your rotation strategy.

        1. Thanks Mr Fox, I’ll give the magnets idea some thought, and research some options. I do like just a simple classic black frame, but don’t really want to me swapping prints in and out every few weeks. Maybe I need a more replaceable option or maybe I need to choose photographs that I will be happy to look at for months on end. : )

      2. Dan, I have numerous frames on the wall with my vision boards (collage of images to focus one’s life on) . I also put my art in them. I change them over when I need fresh images. I have done this with photos of mine as well. I got a framer to make them for me to the exact size of paper I use as backing to the images I use xoxo susanJOY

  6. I would not fill every corner.. ahem wall of the house with my prints. A carefully selected wall (or ceiling – great idea by the way!) with judiciously placed frames. Certainly not in straight lines.
    I’d change them only rarely, one at a time, not all at once. Get a slow dynamic going.
    And this is not for others but just for my pleasure. Well, for the moment I don’t hang any pictures as the place is not ours and I don’t want to make holes in all the walls… But one day…

    By the way your post made me really think about other stuff… the big dreams that are distilled by life into small things. Been there, done that! And I guess it (nearly) always comes down to the realisation that the big escapes and decisions you made in your head don’t play out. What remains are memories of dreams and regrets reflected in some small things we insert into our lives to make us believe we really did it… Guess I’ll need some strong coffee now.

    1. “Get a slow dynamic going” – I love this phrase, a great approach for so much in life where tiny, steady steps can achieve huge things over time and give us a very powerful momentum.

      Regarding hanging pictures, there are a number of “reversible” options these days. I was looking in a shop the other day (I just wanted some picture hook nails) and there are various sticky and Velcro solutions. Never tried them, but many say they cause no damage and are easily removed.

      Frank I like it when you’re this philosophical!

      Memories and dreams and the increasingly blurred and frayed edges between them are something that have fascinated me all of my life. I find it very hard to separate the two sometimes and genuinely can’t remember if I’ve dreamed (or daydreamed) a certain conversation with someone, or it’s actually taken place…

      Photography plays into this – our photographs of a certain place and the trickery we can use (motion blur, depth of field etc) can sometimes replace the direct memories we have.

      This also ties in with the recent “first photograph” post I wrote. I don’t know if my earliest memories are based on what I actually remember, or on pictures of events and moments I don’t recall, but can remember the photographs of them.

        1. Frank have you seen a film called Inception? It’s a few years old but I only watched it for the first time recently, and want to watch it again soon. It’s all about layers of dreams within dreams and trying to get inside people’s heads (and dreams) to plant ideas without them realising. Very clever film, I loved it.

          1. I also just bought Mulholland Drive again. I had a region 1 (US) DVD when it first came out that I pretty much wore out, then when we got a new DVD player it could only play region 2. Looking forward to rediscovering it. And perhaps understanding more than about 20% of it this time. Visually though, it’s glorious.

  7. Hi Dan, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you in answer to your question “Did you mean a theme for the prints in the gallery, or a theme for decorating the whole room?” The thing with Bryan’s idea of posting pictures on the bathroom ceiling was a subtle one in so much as the “theme” was and still is churches or places of prayer….the ingenious part of the idea for me was when he said “I defy anyone to go into a church and not look up” at that point I knew he had hit a home run and was onto something….he occasionally swops pictures out keeping the interest going…and ensuring that the idea doesn’t go stale… I’ve often thought of doing something similar but have failed to grasp a alternative theme that makes you as a viewer look upwards….. hope that this answers your questions. Kind regards lynd

    1. Hi Lynd, that is clever with the church theme, and something I strongly relate to especially lately where more of my photographs than not are in old churches.

  8. […] I have those three superb little compacts already, it’s unlikely the Lumix could offer anything radically different in the final image, or in the enjoyment of use. Again, whilst not expensive (probably around £100 used) this is probably money better invested in a different lens for the Pentax Q, photography books and prints of my own images. […]

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