A Conversation with the Young Curators

01 May 2013

YC 2013 lg thumb 3

(YCs 2013: Olivia, Hannah, Polly, Alice)

One of our Volunteer Gallery Assistants, Becky Sexton, interviews the Young Curators (Polly Adams-Felton, Hannah Lawson, Alice Watson and Olivia Weightman) about their exhibition, The Art of Clay.

Q: What we can expect to see in the exhibition?

Polly A: Visitors can expect to see a wide array of ceramic works that represent the ceramic art market of Britain today. We have chosen to exhibit works that fulfill the four categories of abstract, figurative, functional and vessel as well as a broad range of finishes and processes – some works have a glaze, others have been dried, some works are porcelain, some works involve fabrics. We hope to illustrate to visitors how a medium that we are surrounded by in our daily life with objects such as dinner plates, bowls, mugs, can be used in less usual ways and be accepted as art works.

YC 2013 lg thumb

(Image of Gallery 2)

Q: What was the selection and curatorial process in general?

Hannah A: We started the selection of artists for the exhibition process with help from David Whiting and a large stack of ceramics magazines. With Polly, Alice and Olivia having had an inspiring visit to the Made in the Middle exhibition, exhibitors from that, including Jon Williams, Zoe Hillyard, Kate McBride and Michelle Arieu, made our shortlist. After extensive research and debates over our favourites, we finally cut the list down from the initial 30 artists to the 17 displayed in the exhibition. From contacting the artists and securing their involvement, we then went about creating text panels, catalogues and writing press releases in preparation for the exhibition. The actual curatorial process involved a written plan by us four Young Curators, which was developed and amended in the actual process of physically setting out the exhibition, with creative input from David Whiting and the installment team.

YC 2013 lg thumb 2

(Installing the exhibition in Gallery 1)

Q: What have you learned from working with David Whiting?

Alice A: Working with David Whiting, a ceramics expert, has really opened our eyes to the ceramics world and the clay art market today. Without his knowledge and expertise we would never have completed the tasks set out for The Art of Clay with such ease. We have learnt the depths of setting out an exhibition whilst communicating with the artists involved. His advice was crucial to us when choosing our artists and writing all the accompanying literature. He has been generous with his time and support and we have learnt a great deal from his mentoring.

Q: Your experience of working in a gallery environment. Is this what you want to do in the future? Has it been beneficial/complementary to your History of Art studies?

Olivia A: This opportunity has given us a great insight into a working gallery and what goes into organising an exhibition. The amount of work experience available to undergraduates is very limited in the arts sector and therefore the RBSA has been very beneficial in helping us work out what we want to do after we graduate. We have all taken something different from this experience and it has had an affect on whether or not we want to work in a gallery, but none of us are completely set on what we want out of our future career. Now we have this experience we can go into the job market with a clearer idea of what is expected of people working in a gallery environment. The project has indeed complemented our studies as three of us our currently doing a module that requires us to hypothetically organise an exhibition, but it has also taught us skills that we would not necessarily have developed on our course such as publicity. Overall it has been a wonderful opportunity for us to develop our knowledge and skills for careers in the arts sector.