Every year the RBSA provides an opportunity for young people to curate an exhibition comprised of borrowed works and selections from the RBSA’s Permanent Collection.
Many aspiring curators have benefited from this valuable experience, and the exhibitions provide a balance between professionally guided training and artistic freedom, in the selection and organisation of the artworks.
This year’s new curators are Bisma Mughal, Bethany Conway and Graca Mutseyami. Their exhibition New Curators: Watercolour was at the RBSA Gallery in June.
ART BLOG and Archive Team Volunteer Isabella Frostick asked the curators about their experience on the project and the exhibition itself…
Do you have a favourite artwork from the exhibition?
Graca: My favourite painting is ‘The Sibyl’ by John Davenport. This painting struck me for many reasons. It carries a similarity to paintings created by the German Expressionists of the 1920s, such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
The aggressive and heavy brushstrokes create a motion missing from the Sibyl’s face. The eyes of the Sibyl fill me with sadness but also complacency and I think that is why I enjoy this painting. A lone, ageing woman, who is still in her emotions… but her background gives a sense of her reality being very far from still.
Graca’s choice: John Davenport RBSA, The Sibyl, water based media ©John Davenport
Bethany: My favourite artwork is Shirley Bonas’s ‘The Sun’s Coming Out’. What really struck me about this painting was the autumnal feeling.
The sunshine’s reflection on the trees is done with so much detail. It conjures up Little Red Riding Hood. I think it’s a wonderful painting.
Bisma: My favourite work from the exhibition is ‘Moelwyns and Crichton’ by Brian Fletcher. I like the expressive application of the water-based medium and how the colourful impasto style differs from the traditional use of watercolours, making this piece particularly striking.
Bisma’s choice: Brian Fletcher RBSA, ‘Moelwyns and Crichton’: mixed water-based media ©Brian Fletcher
How has your background helped you in the curation of this exhibition?
Graca: I would say doing an Art History degree has helped me to make sense of what it is I am looking at. Being able to form my own interpretations has been valuable.
Bisma: As an English Literature student, I appreciate all types of art: written and visual. I am strong believer that art is not only an amalgamation of the emotions of the artist, but also contains a distinct hidden story to those who view it.
Bethany: I think being a creative person and recently graduating from a BA Fine Art course has benefited me a lot. I had knowledge of certain aspects of creating an exhibition, but being able to be part of the process from beginning to end has been such a worthwhile experience.
Bethany’s choice: Shirley Bonas RBSA, ‘The Sun’s Coming Out’: mixed water-based media ©Shirley Bonas
How has this experience helped you towards your aspirations for the future?
Graca: Being in my final year at university made me a bit apprehensive about working in the art sector, as I’ve heard it can be very competitive. But under the direction of Natalie and Nigel at the RBSA, I’ve had my faith restored that I will work with lovely people, and be given a chance by them.
Bisma: This project has taught me how to be organised, how to approach people and how important it is to stick to deadlines. It has informed my future aspirations as it has given me the experience and knowledge of what it is like to be a curator. It is something that I am considering as a possible career path. I’ve seen some beautiful art and met very lovely people.
Bethany: I’ve been able to experience all the preparation which happens before, during and after an exhibition. It’s given me a glimpse into what goes on in a gallery environment – experience I wasn’t able to get at university. This will hopefully translate into similar opportunities.
I’ve found it extremely enjoyable and insightful.
‘New Curators: Watercolour’ was the result of many hours of hard work and planning by these creative individuals and their mentors at the RBSA.
By Isabella Frostick, Archive Team Volunteer
Interested in volunteering at the RBSA or applying for one of our placements? Email firstname.lastname@example.org