Exhibiting at Somerset House
Over the course of #Project60 I travelled to the UK three times. It was a hectic time co-ordinating everything, juggling stakeholders and keeping the show on the road. As it grew it became more and more complex with mounting expectation. So, we thought we’d better celebrate everyone’s hard work and dedication with a launch at a gallery somewhere in London. This somewhere just so happened to be one of the most respected galleries in the United Kingdom. None other than the hallowed halls of Somerset House.
As with a lot of things on the Beard Season journey, it happened somewhat by divine intervention. Our mate Wes perhaps pulling some serious strings.
Towards the business end of this project we had collected quite a team who were generously donating their time. Producers, printers, framers, beard oil barons and PR goddesses. Hunting far and wide for a space who would have us. From underground abandoned train stations to trendy studios in Shoreditch. Happily, someone knew someone who happened to be on the board for Somerset House. They tipped us off about a surprise opening just after men’s fashion week in a perfect wing of this spectacular gallery. It was too good to pass up.
So, with no budget and a team scattered around the world. We pitched our heads off to everyone we thought would fit. Eventually, at the midnight hour, with the crushing weight of the realisation that I soon might have to pay for all this with loans and my life savings, our pitch deck landed on the desk of Jean Claude Biver. Charismatic CEO of the Swiss Watch company Hublot. He apparently immediately loved it. Being a bold, out of the box brand known for their passionate innovation, he fell in love with the Beard Season cause and powerful photography of Mr Elbank. Our gorgeous producer Cate McKay Haynes teed up a meeting in London and a sponsorship deal was brokered. A month or so later (and a lot of heavy lifting) we had a stunning opening party with over 400 glittering guests, launching what became one of the most visited exhibitions at Somerset House. It was such a surreal feeling seeing people not only lining up well into the courtyard to visit your show, but lining up to see an individual portrait. Such a great moment for everyone involved, made even more touching when we came face to face with people who had found an early stage melanoma because of the exposure the series had brought to such an important issue.