Trials and triumphs of student curating: MA Curating Exhibition 2014

Madeleine Kennedy, MA Curating the Art Museum student and co-curator of Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art.

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After months of planning, today we finally begin installing Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art.

In the last two weeks the curating process has really gained momentum. Last Wednesday my day was filled with a solid nine hours of meetings, beginning in the upper galleries of The Courtauld Gallery, hours before they were opened to the public.

With the galleries deserted, we took the opportunity to take a peek under the floorboards. We needed to figure out where the power source should come from for one of the most ‘expanded’ prints in Impress, a kinetic sculpture by Mona Hatoum.

It was one of those moments when you realise how much of curating is about working creatively within constraints – being part of a grade 1 listed building, The Courtauld Gallery doesn’t have plugs just anywhere!

View of Students Checking out the sockets under the floorboards in the gallery.

Checking out the sockets under the floorboards in the gallery.

Another matter to be decided on Wednesday was that of wall colours. With Farrow and Ball having kindly offered to supply our paint for free, all we had to do was pick the colour which worked best in the space. This sounds easy but we were faced with a bewildering array of paint options – which colour would you have chosen? Let us know on @MACurating.

View of Marian and Charlotte ponder some of the colour samples in the space, trying to envisage which best complements and unifies all the works in the show.

Marian and Charlotte ponder some of the colour samples in the space, trying to envisage which best complements and unifies all the works in the show.

My next jaunt was to meet with the Public Programmes department. As a member of the events team, I had taken my responsibilities very seriously. I made a habit of going to as many museum late events as possible, including the  The Courtauld Lates.

With our heads filled with ideas, we began discussing the practicalities of running a series of creative workshops. After long hours negotiating back and forth with a printmaking artist, a poet, tutors, security, finance and so on, the events schedule will soon be ready to publish. Watch this space for details.

View of Activities at the Museums at Night Lates: Printmaking at the House of Illustration.

Museums at Night Lates: Printmaking at the House of Illustration.

View of Activities at the Museums at Night Lates: Public participation installation at The Guildhall Art Gallery.

Museums at Night Lates: Public participation installation at The Guildhall Art Gallery.

View of Activities at the Museums at Night Lates: Live music at the Court and Craft Late at The Courtauld Gallery.

Museums at Night Lates: Live music at the Court and Craft Late Night Opening at The Courtauld Gallery.

My day was rounded off with a visit to Bullet Creative in South London. This was the first consultation with the graphic designer about our hopes for the booklet to accompany the exhibition. We saw the first options for the cover design on Thursday, and by the following Wednesday the entire design was almost complete.

Fourteen versions later, this morning the booklet went to print. I could not believe how quickly it has all come together – all credit to the text and interpretation team who generated the writing, and our ever-patient designer at Bullet.

Now galleries 13 and 14 have been emptied: The Courtauld’s modern masters which hung there until a few days ago have been safely stored away, and the space has become an empty shell ready to be transformed into Impress. It feels like a surreal honour for these works to have made way for our exhibition. We can’t wait to see it realised.

Picture of Stuart contemplating where Wassily Kandinsky’s The Red Circle, 1939 used to hang

Stuart contemplating where Wassily Kandinsky’s The Red Circle, 1939 used to hang.

You can keep up to date in the countdown to the opening on 20 June by staying tuned to our MA Curating Instragram and Twitter.

 

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