The afternoon was busy with hanging and dealing with the difficulties artists present hanging crews. It seems many artists think that somehow magic is involved in holding an artwork on a wall because sometimes there is no easy way to get excessively heavy, warped, and poorly constructed "stretchers" hung in any kind of professional looking manner.
Miracles are necessary. A little swearing sometimes helpful. But some how, some way, the last of the paintings were hung just as the first visitors arrived. Just enough time to quickly change into a suit and get presentable for the show.
My role from there is to greet visitors and speak. Lesley welcomed everyone, then I did a small talk and thanked everyone and then introduced our official opener - alternative media publisher Lawrence Gibbons.
At the exhibition opening visitors vote for the Peoples Choice award. This year it was a thousand dollars donated by a lawyer who likes life drawing and remaining anonymous. Her generosity is appreciated by all.
The Real Refusés is a very special exhibition. I of course retain an emotional connection having started the whole concept running 12 years ago. But it is special for a far more important reason. There is pure joy in seeing artists who so often are treated disdainfully by the arts establishment enter our show without any prejudices at all. At the Real Refusés we never reject an artist. It gives our exhibition a special feeling that "official" exhibitions can never have.
The first year doom was predicted. We would never get any good work people said, we would be shunned by the establishment, that it couldn't possibly work. Yet here we are with the 12th Refusé and 2 floors of work hung by artists, for artists. Some of Australasia's finest artists have been proud to be hung in our annual alternative to the official Archibald Prize exhibitions and we are now an accepted part of the Archibald calendar.
Long live the artistic spirit and long live the Real Refusés!