Five weeks 'til Head On

“If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done.” ― Rita Mae Brown

I found out about my acceptance to the Head On Photo Festival four months ago, but, much like studying for a major exam, I’ve only just started doing any real work to prepare for it. In my defence, it took three months to confirm at venue. There wasn’t much I could do before that.

I didn’t hold much hope of finding a venue that met my requirements (in a central location at no cost), so I was rapt when I found a home for my exhibition at the Sydney Eye Hospital.

After announcing the exhibition to the world on social media I realised I needed to give myself a kick in the butt and organise it, otherwise I'd end up slapping prints on the wall any which way and it would end up looking like a grade three school project.

I’m a complete novice at this kind of stuff, but I’m hoping for something a bit more polished than blue tack.

At the start of the week I sat down and wrote a list of tasks that needed to be done. This is what it looked like...

1. Inspect my exhibition space

The most important action for the week was a trip to Sydney to see and measure my exhibition space. Carisa, my contact at the hospital, said that the area was ‘partially outside’, so I needed to know exactly how much was outside, what implications that had for my prints, and how I would hang them.

I flew to Sydney on Thursday, and after an hour of tourist time I went up to the hospital to checkout where my exhibition would be. The location is fantastic — close to Circular Quay, major train stations, and key Head On venues like the Museum and Library. Here are some photos to show you where it is and what it will look like.


That's where my exhibition will be. Pretty cool, right?!

The awesome things about the space are the amount of foot traffic that goes by, how visible it is, and the fantastic location. The challenges with the space are that it’s completely exposed to harsh sun and rain, the hanging surface is sandstone that I can’t drill into, and I’ll need to direct people to it from Macquarie St. 

A couple of problems to add to my to-do list for this week.

2. Poster and postcard design

I haven’t been to many photography festivals, but at the ones I’ve been to the photographers all had posters and postcards, so I think these are very important things for me to have in order to look like I know what I’m doing.

I drafted a couple of designs and sent them to Lauran (correct spelling) at Head On. She approved them. Now I can go and get them printed. I’m not sure where I'll put the posters, or who I'll give the postcards to, but I feel very professional and important for having organised them.


3. Post Judy Teys GBS story

After Jay’s story was published in The Big Issue, I received an email from a lovely woman called Judy Teys who suffered GBS in 2007. Judy shared her GBS story with Jay and I, and she agreed to let me publish it on the blog in the lead up to the exhibition.

You can read Judy’s story here

4. Start filming for Jay 'one year on' videos

When the exhibition opens, it will be exactly one year since Jay left the rehabilitation centre. In that time he’s made a lot of progress; walking unassisted, using his hands, and returning to work part-time. I want to document the improvements Jay has made since the end of the book, and the workarounds he's come up with to the problems he's still having.

I decided to use video because a lot of Jay's story revolves around motion. I started the project recently by filming Jay doing simple tasks around his house. To give you an idea, here’s some sample footage of Jay making a cup of tea (shout out to the awesome Susan and Karl mug in Jay and Jo’s cupboard!). In the end product, the audio will be Jay talking about his experiences. For now I've added some music to hide the banter between Jay and I while we shot.

That’s it for this week. I’ll leave you with some footage of Circular Quay I took during my flying visit to Sydney. This entire blog post was meant to be in video form, but I quickly lost my enthusiasm for that. I think I've been watching too much Casey Neistat.

Rebuilding Jay Knight: Life after Guillain-Barré syndrome is a photo essay and book by Emma Murray. Images from the series will be exhibited at this years Head On Photo Festival.

See images from the series here.

Read the book here.