Texts, Talks and Technicalities: MA Curating Exhibition 2014

Jazia Hammoudi, MA Curating Student

With the 20 June opening of Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art fast approaching, this week was full of major decisions.

Now that the loan letters are off and we have a pretty good idea of our layout in the galleries, we’ve started to focus more heavily on the slightly less glamorous but still absolutely essential parts of exhibition planning.

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing and modifying our installation schedule, due to begin 9 June in The Courtauld Gallery. We’ve hired painters, calculated the amount and cost of the supplies we need, and coordinated deliveries for art works with the Arts Council Collection.


View of MA Curating students working on their forthcoming exhibition

Behind the scenes – MA Curating

Our press and marketing team have also been working overtime to advertise the exhibition through social media and other avenues (check out our fabulous Instagram MACurating), and our events team have outlined different kinds of talks, evenings, and workshops for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

We’re planning on having a whole series of lunchtime and weekend talks that will focus on different pieces and topics in the show. Make sure to look out for the events schedule, and tweet at @MACurating if there are any particular artworks you want to hear us discuss!

The kinds of texts we want to include have also come under close scrutiny this week, and after some deliberation we’ve decided to produce a small booklet.

It’s going to be an accompaniment to the displays, with an introduction about the show, useful information on printmaking techniques (just to refresh everyone’s memory!), and a few short essays on major themes we’d like to point out.

We’ve also finished writing wall texts, which have been quite challenging. Writing an explanation of an artist’s methods, background, and place in our show all in less than 90 words is no easy task!

Now it’s back to work. Keep checking for more updates on our process.

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Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art  20 June – 20 July 2014

Behind the scenes: MA Curating Exhibition

The next exhibition to open at The Courtauld Gallery this summer will be Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art. It’s curated by eleven students on the MA Curating course at The Courtauld Institute of Art.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting regularly about what goes on behind the scenes of an exhibition, from the initial loan requests right through to installation and opening.

The MA Curating students in a meeting

The MA Curating team working on the exhibition


So far, we’ve sent out loan requests to the Arts Council Collection and The Courtauld Gallery, who are kindly lending us the works we’ll be exhibiting.

Loan requests for exhibitions have to be formally written, and they need to provide the lender with a strong justification for the request. They need to argue that the works are intrinsic to the exhibition’s overall thesis, and explain why they should trust us with the works in the first place. It’s the same in museums and galleries across the world.

We’re also now starting to think in more detail about how to hang them in The Courtauld Gallery‘s space. We’ve built a model of the space (see pictures below) with small versions of the works we’ll be exhibiting – to scale, of course!

View of the Gallery Plan for the MA Curating Exhibition

MA Curating Exhibition, work in progress


We’re now spending a lot of time moving them around in this mini-space and thinking about the sort of juxtapositions we want, and what kind of ‘conversation’ the works will have when they’re next to each other.

Being able to move these works around, even in miniature, helps us to visualise the show and make these decisions. It’ s much harder to imagine how things will look together when you’re just looking at thumbnails on a spreadsheet.

A key thing to consider when choosing juxtapositions is whether there are similarities between the works. For example, we’ve got a couple of works that make interesting use of light, so we have to decide whether to put those together, or maybe use them as contrasting pairs, one in each room.

There are also some works that we can’t put next to each other, either because of size or because the subject matter will clash too much. We’re also trying to think about how the visitor will move through the space: we have two rooms at The Courtauld Gallery for the show, and we want to create a sense of movement and development from the first room to the second.

Join us over the next few weeks as we continue to bring the exhibition together…

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Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art  20 June – 20 July 2014

MA Students working on the exhibition

The MA Curating team working on the exhibition