Frank Soo by Allan O’Neill showing at the Ort Gallery Member’s Exhibition, Birmingham

ort gallery_-1193-2Caption card for Frank Soo 

During this module I have interacted actively with my peers through the OCA discussion forums and I have begun to see how the photography degree course develops through the various modules and into level 3 which includes the sustaining your practice module.

Through this I have begun to imagine and recognise some of the components that may contribute to being able to eventually practice as an independent artist.

Following my tutor feedback session for assignment 5 I was in an enthusiastic mood and felt that I had finished the course well and I had begun to look around locally for opportunities to show Frank Soo my final submission.

The Ort Gallery is an arts centre in Birmingham which has managed to attract some very interesting artists such as film-maker and artist Kristina Cranfeld and is a gallery I have grown to support. What I also like about the Ort Gallery is it’s accessibility and that it is a location outside of London.

So when the chance arose to submit work for their member’s exhibition I thought that it might present an opportunity to push myself into a whole new experience. I was still surprised but also overjoyed when they informed me that my work had been accepted and I received the appropriate instructions.

The Gallery’s board of Directors were the panel and as part of the acceptance we were advised that they would need details of the actual size of the piece plus our statement and description of the work; and that we should attend a day to be involved in hanging the work and organising the exhibition which was a real learning experience.

ort gallery_-1190-2Organising the exhibition

The first and biggest mistake that I made was to frame the image at the original size that I had submitted to my tutor at 10×8 inches. As soon as I walked into the gallery I realised that I could and should have had a much larger print, possibly an A3 type size. When I was in discussion with the gallery’s founding director Josephine Reichert she also mentioned how much she had enjoyed reading about the project and that she felt that it would work well in a larger format.

This first lesson of focusing on a potential exhibition event and not purely as a student course submission is one that I will take forward and this has helped me to start considering my work from a whole new perspective.

Meeting the other participants was also really interesting as quite a few were Birmingham based practicing artists themselves as well as students and enthusiasts. I received lots of encouragement and useful advice throughout the day and also made several good contacts which hopefully will help as I progress.

ort gallery_-1210-2My model for Frank Soo discussing the experience on opening night

The opening night was a tremendous evening and I was surprised at the number of people that turned up to see the exhibition. Being able to view your own personal work on a gallery wall with the caption plate detailing the project was an experience I had never imagined.

As a student attending exhibitions I have n’t really thought about what the experience is like for the artist but this exercise has opened my eyes massively to the potential that exists and I must admit that I found the whole experience extremely rewarding.

Whilst this is obviously quite a low profile event I do feel that the experience of showing my project was an excellent exercise to conclude this course and provided the chance to meet the ultimate challenge – to put our work out there to be seen and critiqued by people.

I received a brief mention in a review of the exhibition provided by Lisa Williams of ArtsBrum of online Whats on guide to Birmingham.

“But art is something that should be seen, not read about, so i’ll keep it brief and introduce you to just a few pieces that caught my eye.

Have you ever considered how much of history has been airbrushed out of what we know today? Neither had I, until coming across the constructed photography of Allan O’Neill. Next time you’re chatting to a football fan, be sure to ask them if they’ve ever heard of Frank Soo, but first, give yourself some food for thought by going to check out Allan’s piece.” (Williams, L. 2017)


The review can be read in full at:


The gallery have organised a follow up workshop where all artists can discuss their work and we will receive critical feedback from the directors and I look forward to this event.


More information can be found about the Ort Gallery at

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