1. Starting off our project

September/October 2021

The project started off with a LOT of energy. We met and started to brainstorm. As a team we came up with words that were relevant to our project, digitising the exhibition achieve and make it into a living resource whilst building on the digital pivot to find a new way to engage our target audience of 16–24-year-olds. We came up with three main words Access, Engagement and Wonder. We decided that this would make up the AWE project and we decided that we would use the landing page from National Galleries of Scotland to create a website full of blogs and activities based around these ideals.

We didn’t come to a full conclusion about which exhibition we wanted to include in our project as the exhibition content all overlaps in one way or another. The exhibitions we decided on are the Beyond Realism exhibition and the NOW Jenny Saville, Sara Barker, Christine Borland, Robin Rhode, Markus Schinwald, Catherine Street. It’s the perfect mix between pop culture references and women and the body, relating this back to the surrealist movement and ideas around gender and history.

We also started to talk about how we wanted to engage our audiences and other events that we could put on to gain interest in the project. We talked about social media and starting a collaboration with National Galleries of Scotland using their platform as we a way to reach out to audiences. With only a couple of months to get the project realised and up and running, this is the most effective way to get to our audiences quickly, covering all our bases and using the broad audience outreach they have.

We decided we should also have a launch event for the website and decided that collaborating with other institutions such as fruit market would be a good idea to get recognition and bridge relationships between galleries/museums. We don’t know what this event will look like just yet as the Pandemic and restrictions have an effect on how the event will be run and who we can invite. 

2. Group updates going into Christmas Break

November/December 2021

By this stage in our project we have had a couple of meetings with National of Galleries Scotland team member Lucy Armitage (Digital producer)  and Stephanie Straine (Senior Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art). All fired up we had a lot of ideas and when we met with the NGS team we spilled everything out on the table. Lucy and Stephanie managed to help us to rethink our ideas and lock it down to certain ideas that we had come up with as they didn’t want us to be doing too much and produce a lesser quality of work.

I think initially the team felt a bit disappointed with the first few meetings with NGS because we were all so excited to crack on with the project and produce some amazing content. But it was good to have constructive criticism and understand that fine tuning our ideas would actually help us in the long run.

We also got warned before our project began that working with a big institution such as NGS was going to be full of frustrations as such a big institution has many restrictions and structured ways of producing and delivering content to their very curated audiences.

We decided as a team to take certain roles to get the project delivered on time and to a high quality. I decided that I would like to be head of social media/marketing as it is something I have always had an intertest in but have never had any experience in. I am very much looking forward to designing and creating content for our targeting audiences and coming up with fun innovative ideas to promote the website and launch. Other in the group have decided to focus on content creation for the website budgeting and launch event planning.

The group are meeting once every week to discuss and plan ideas and move the project on slowly but surely. The aim is before Christmas to get a foundation laid down as we know that getting back in the new year we are only going to have a couple of months to pull off the project and hand it out to NGS.

3.  Getting the ball running 

January/February 2022

By January after the Christmas break we knew it was time to get the ball running with our project. We set more concise deadlines and started having more meetings as a team, keeping up to date with what everyone was doing. From a social media prospective I felt like there wasn’t a lot to do yet as we still needed content that was being generated from the website to be able to promote what we needed to on social media channels.

Still in the early processes of everything we focused on the design and creation of the website which was most important to get finished and finalised by National Galleries of Scotland before the end of March.

This time was a great period to take a step back and gain some distance from the project before coming in with a new perspective. I think sometimes, when people are too involved in the project they tend to lose sight of the reasons as to what their goals and aims are, so it was good to hone in on this and keep focused on our target audience.

I think another way we kept focus was by creating a Curatorial Rationale which I personally have never done before. This was a great resource to refer back to throughout the project as well as it really defined what we were doing and why. The team worked really hard on the rationale, however although it was a useful resource I also feel it brought up added deadlines and pressure which affected the deadlines for other parts of the project.

4. Finalising the project 

March/April 2022 

By March, we were reaching all of our final deadlines, the website was finished, and we had to come up with Social media posts. We originally got Canva back in January and had started to do some mock ups of posts we wanted to create. We had a pre-arranged design and scheme that linked very closely with the National Galleries of Scotland’s own website using the same font and adding colours that we though related closely to our theme of Surrealism.

We started an email chain with Laura Doherty (Digital and Social Media Officer), and she suggested we use Trello which is a organisational tool used by businesses to post their marketing and PR content.

With this Tomee went and shot the Cocktail&Mocktail TikTok style videos with M.E., Lina and Rhona and I got on creating content such as information posts, and Spotify posts as well as information about the launch event. We set a time and schedule for when we wanted each post to be shared and on which platform we wanted them to be posted on. Trello and Canva were the best platforms to use in terms of design concepts and organisation of the content. Canva allowed for a creative yet easily accessible platform to create posts and Trello was a good communication platform as we could use tags and labels and add links as well as attachments to each post so when it came to Laura posting each post she knew easily and exactly what to do and where to put our content.

I think one thing we found quite confusing was the Alt-Text which is a alternative to an image for people who use assistive technology. Having never come across this before we found it difficult to understand what this meant and how we should format it. Laura showed us some examples and we tried out hardest to include Alt-Text in every one of our posts, I think this was a good learning experience as it is obviously something that could be very easily blind sighted and we wanted everything in our project to be inclusive, this was just another way of making our content accessible to everyone and I can now use this for future knowledge when creating content.

5. Social Media and Launch Event

Being so wrapped up in creating social media posts and getting everything ready for our deadlines as well as trying to keep up the many different email chains and conversations that were being had online (not in person) we lost our communication with NGS and unfortunately due to Copyright issues we were not able to get out posts published on the times and dates that we had set for them as we were waiting back for permission needed to use the images we had for our quizzes.

This was incredibly frustrating as we were relying on NGS’s social media channels to reach a wide ranging audience, instead we took initiative and posted our content (without the copyright images) on our own social media hoping to reach as many people as we could.

Eventually we managed to get one post uploaded by NGS for our quiz on Instagram but it felt a massive shame as me and Tomee had put such hard work into creating the final posts. I think we were also really excited about reaching a massive audience and hearing back the responses from people. Hopefully this can be a lesson learned and I do feel like I could have taken more initiative but at the end of the day Copyright was something that was overlooked, if we could go back this would have been one of the things addressed way back when in October/November time.

Although our work didn’t come to fruition on the social media front, we did in fact hold a very successful Launch event, in which we had a roundtable discussion with two artists and a leading lecturer in the field of surrealism held at the Fruitmarket gallery. This was an excellent event and incredibly successful with a full turn out in person and most people joining online. It was a fabulous way to celebrate and round off our project.

6. Break down in communication

I think regardless we all knew that the project was going to create a lot of stress and time constraints on each and every single one of us. We had some very high institutional standards to live up to and everything had to be thought about meticulously. I think as a team we started of communicating really well, we all knew where each other was at and we supported one another in our endeavours when we started to specialise on certain aspects of the project.

However, due to pressure from NGS and our constant need to always tweak our work and perform to these high standards we lost our communication style and this is when the relationships between individuals in the group started to fall apart.

It was hard to see members not getting on or hitting out at each other because they weren’t being listened to or felt appreciated. I think this is something everyone can learn from, after having a conversation and grounding ourselves with Kirsten we realised we could find out communication style again and we managed to successfully complete the project.

This just goes to show that no matter what, when working within a team on anything communication is absolutely key to everyone else’s understanding and I think actually slowing down and realising our limits was also a key point to take away with us. Not everyone can do everything and especially in such short time constraints.

I think we worked well as a group to overcome these issues and I am proud of the project we have created.