The Small Faces exhibition at Solent University’s Showcase Gallery removed barriers to creativity and engaged diverse audiences.
The premise was to invite people to be part of a large collective artwork made up of thousands of individual ‘postcard portraits’. Notably, all submissions would not be ‘judged’, selected or rejected by a panel. All work would be shown, and all work would be valued. By relinquishing curatorial control, the gallery was solely reliant on participants to make the exhibition a success.
The response was overwhelming; over 7000 portraits were received. The exhibition was packed with personal stories:
A teenage girl with terminal cancer had the opportunity to debut her artwork in a public space; a 90-year-old created artwork for the first time in 40 years; and a group of refugees remembered those they had left behind.
Over 5,250 people visited the exhibition and for many, it was their first visit to a gallery.