Last night I went to the Oh Really Gallery closing party and it led me to reflect on the nature of success.
The closing of Oh Really represents the end of a Newtown street art institution, and the atmosphere was jovial. I found myself compelled to congratulate one of the gallery directors on his great success. Five years previous I had met him when he was self publishing a small zine called ‘Oh Really‘. At the time I was serving on the advisory committee for a co-work space called Square One (now known as Enterprise Hub). Oh Really Magazine had made the big move from the bedroom to the arts/media space in the city. This was soon outgrown and studio eventually became gallery. The rest is history. Fast forward 5 years to 2011 and we are at the closing party for Oh Really Gallery, which has hosted hundreds of street artist exhibitions, culture jams and events, with thousands of people passing through the doors.
Surely to start with and idea, play with it, and take it into an ambitious direction takes great courage. To then nurture and develop it until it flourishes, blooms and then to end it gracefully is the epitome of success. The artists who ran the space will now have the opportunity to explore other things, and perhaps have other beautiful successes.
When writing a grant application you will often be called upon to prescribe ‘measures of success’. Success is not always financial but can still be tangible and real. To establish a recognisable brand is an achievement. To learn new skills and build your own goodwill is precious and transferable. To have ownership over creating something bigger than yourself is worthy of pride. To make even one person smile or think is an achievement in itself.
So what is the moral of this story? I am forever beating myself up for being a dabbler, always starting things but never continuing them indefinitely. If only I could choose one activity, do it for 20 years and I could finally have an area of expertise! (I say to myself) But to follow a project through to its natural conclusion and then move on to the next challenge is true success.