I am the Chelsea Arts Club Trust Research Fellowship – CHELSEA space Award recipient

I am delighted to announced that I am this year’s recipient of the Chelsea Arts Club Trust Research Fellowship – CHELSEA space Award. This means that I will be based at CHELSEA space gallery 3 days a week, (from September 2012 for a year) working on every aspect of running a gallery, whilst exploring my own curatorial research interests. The award aims to promote professional development opportunities and mentoring for a candidate with the ability and potential to make an exceptional contribution in the area of curatorial practice and gallery management. The Award is aimed at encouraging those who would benefit from study and practical experience in a ‘live’ gallery context to realise their full potential. You can read more about the Trust here .

making up mirror plate frames to hang work for the DOME: Ralph Tubbs and the Festival of Britain exhibition at CHELSEA space

I am so pleased and excited that I have received this award and with it, the opportunity to develop my research into and work with curating and hopefully further my career in this area. I am gaining direct hands on experience in gallery management, designing of exhibitions, brand identity, communication, networking and team work, creating publications and archiving and documentation. In my first week working at the gallery, I got stuck in straight away installing the first exhibition of this season which is called DOME: Ralph Tubbs and the Festival of Britain.

our key framing tools up close – drill, braddle, mirror plates and screws

Having never even picked up a drill before, I have already accumulated so many practical skills in my first week as I have been drilling, framing and hanging work for this exhibition. After overcoming my initial nerves, only due to lack of experience, I have discovered first hand that it’s true… practice makes perfect!

our gallery work table with everything we needed for framing and exhibition installation – the work (photographs), mounts, frames, spirit level, drill, braddle, mirror plates…

I have been learning by doing and observing and this week I have been involved first hand, in the steps involved in designing and planning a professional exhibition. I have been able to make decisions regarding the selection of work to include and how to display or hang it. I have also been made aware of the factors that the exhibition viewer or visitor does not take into account, that need to be considered, such as distances between objects for navigating the space or how the exhibition looks from outside the gallery’s transparent window as well as from inside.

empty walls, empty vitrines and a work table full of tools. You can just about see one of the buildings of Chelsea College of Art & Design, that the gallery is on the site of, in the background reflected in the vitrine.

the gallery looks like a frame shop – full of frames to be filled with work for the exhibition!

For this exhibition which displays mainly archival material including photographs and other works on paper, we used vitrines and frames to install the work.

I have also come to realise that there is far more maths involved in art than I had dared imagine (I gave up maths & science subjects in school, as soon as I could to focus on arts & humanities subjects) as I learned about calculating measurements for hanging works accurately with my new best friends the tape measure, pencil and spirit level.

In the example in the picture below, we were hanging frames on a ramp which is an important architectural feature of the gallery space. So we needed to decide by how much to increase the level for hanging, also considering the incline of the ramp that the viewer stands on.

frames hung with an incline on the wall of the gallery’s ramp space

Another curatorial concern, visually, was considering the aesthetic nature of the frames being used as some were white and some wooden. In the end, we decided to mix them up and on the largest expanse of gallery white wall, we also blended hanging at different levels as we wanted to give the impression (along with the vitrines and material inside them) of the architect Ralph Tubbs who the exhibition focusses on, at work in the studio setting.

the large gallery wall space with a mixture of white and wooden framed works of different sizes

Finally, I love this image of the architect’s drawings and blue prints, having been rolled up for years… they will be exhibited in a vitrine after the favourite has been chosen to sit on top, the other layers will be stacked underneath tantalisingly, don’t they look great? Maybe they remind me of scrolls and it must help that I have an interest in old works on paper and a love of old books. These drawings even came with their own authentic smell when we un rolled them!

drawings and blue prints from the architect Ralph Tubbs, which will be covered more by a vitrine lid for the exhibition

I am very much looking forward to the private view of this exhibition DOME: Ralph Tubbs and the Festival of Britain which is tomorrow evening Tuesday 11th September at CHELSEA space (16 John Islip Street London SW1P 4JU). The exhibition is also part of the Icon Design Trail and the London Design Festival.  The exhibition is open until 20th October and I will be there working in the gallery Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays if you’d like to come and visit, I’d love to see you!

Chelsea Salon Series – 2nd salon from me – the Curatorial Associate

A few months ago I introduced the Chelsea Salon Series on this blog and I wrote about the first salon for Chelsea Salon Series that I organised and curated which you can read about here.

As an organisation we have now clarified our roles in order to better demonstrate the work we are carrying out, to the University and external organisations including galleries and possible funding groups. I am the Curatorial Associate for the Chelsea Salon Series and I have been working on organising the next salon event which will take place on 3rd August

an image from the last salon for Chelsea Salon Series held at the Round Chapel, Hackney

The next salon will take place at Harts Lane Studios and I am working together with MA Fine Art Chelsea College of Art & Design alumni Fiona Whitty and Jenny Gordon (who run Whitty Gordon Projects) to carry out this event.

image from Whitty Gordon Projects, during one of their visits to downtown Kingston, Jamaica

A curatorial decision was taken to create an experimental salon with an emphasis on performance and a full range of art forms. The Round Chapel salon allowed students to show any completed work or works in progress and most students exhibited pieces they were working on or had already finished, in a way staying quite safe in their choices.

This next salon will enable students to be inspired by the experimental way of working that Fiona and Jenny employ, using a variety of interesting and exciting ways to realise their ideas in different art forms including film, video and outreach projects. The Chelsea Salon Series team would like to capture the adventurous and experimental spirit of the Askew events (set up by Fiona Whitty and Jenny Gordon and no longer in action, although the website remains as an archive of the collective’s activities) and first salons held at Chelsea College in the year that they took their course (2009).

Yard (1961) by artist Allan Kaprow.       Performance piece, part of a Happening.

This means that this salon will be open and encouraging. There is no specific theme, but the aim is for students to be experimental, risk taking and daring. We have made clear that this means the work doesn’t have to be pieces that students are working on at the moment. It doesn’t have to be something that is finished and final. We have suggested trying working in a different format or media or with subject matter other than what students usually use. Eg. what about using dance, music, poetry if you don’t usually, or cooking something new you haven’t tried before! We really want to encourage performance and interaction.

We have recommended thinking about those ‘60s and ‘70s ‘happenings’ which embraced the experimental and free thinking zeitgeist… I’ll let you know after the event, how it goes and if we managed to make our very own Chelsea Salon Series happening!

Our salons are open to the public, so you are most welcome to join us. All information is posted on the Chelsea Salon Series blog.


Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London

On Wednesday 23rd May 2012 the private view for Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition took place at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London. From 5.00 – 7.00pm staff, students and alumni from a number of the colleges of University of the Arts, London as well as artists, my course mates and colleagues from previous courses and jobs, friends and family came to see the exhibition and have something cold to drink on an extremely warm evening!

guests to the private view of Beyond the Bookshelves look round the exhibition at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London

As the curator, I was pleased that everything had gone to plan when installing the exhibition including having successfully managed to adhere to the strict health and safety regulations without needing to alter my layout and display plans for the exhibition. I also felt that I had overcome the restrictions that exist when using a non-gallery space which has the daily function of the library’s silent reading room by displaying exhibits in interesting ways.

view of Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground from the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design

The booklet which I wrote to accompany this exhibition which includes information on the work shown by each of the the three artists as well as texts explaining the choices I made as curator and explanations of how the exhibition came about and information on the history of the exhibition space, can be seen on the library website for Chelsea College of Art and Design under Other Guides and Publications here

You can view the floorplan map of the space as well as the list of works from the exhibition.

Just below is the edited film, included in the exhibition, which shows film and sound clips from the live performative soundwork Silent Zone, Site and Sound which I have previously written about on this blog here.

What follows in this post are a series of photographs from the installation of the exhibition and from the private view evening (which were kindly taken by Itay Greenspon).

artists Tansy Spinks and Phil Jones install Phil’s cabinet

a detailed view of the cabinet containing books by Phil Jones

work by Julie Caves as displayed in one of the cabinets

hanging paper piece by Julie Caves

objects from Silent Zone, Site and Sound live performative soundwork by Tansy Spinks

from left to right: Colonel Frank Davis – Chair of Friends of Millbank, me and George Blacklock – Dean of Chelsea College of Art and Design

from left to right: me, Professor Stephen Farthing – Rootstein Hopkins Research Chair of Drawing at Chelsea College of Art & Design, Caitlin Smyth – Chelsea Arts Club Trust Resarch Fellow and Colonel Frank Davis – Chairman of Friends of Millbank.
In the corner is artist Aaron Mcpeake who has just completed his PhD at Chelsea College of Art & Design. Aaron has displayed part of his final show in the Old College Library at the same time with my exhibition on show.

guests including Donald Smith – Director of Exhibitions, CHELSEA space and Robin Jenkins – artist and year leader on BA Interior & Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Art & Design

artists Jenny Gordon and Fiona Whitty who are alumni of MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art & Design. They now work together on Whitty Gordon Projects which involves them working on a socially engaged film project in downtown Kingston, Jamaica. I will be assisting them in their work. http://whittygordon.tumblr.com/aboutus

Alighiero Boetti: Works on Paper at Sprovieri

Over the weekend I went to see two exhibitions of Italian 20th Century art. These were Alighiero Boetti: Works on Paper at Sprovieri and Giuseppe Cavalli: Master of Light at the Estorick Collection. You can read my review of Alighiero Boetti: Works on Paper here and the review for the Cavalli exhibition here. It was useful and interesting for me that I had already seen the exhibition Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan at Tate Modern, so I had a broad understanding of Boetti’s work in the full range of mediums that he worked with.

Plaque for David Bowie’s iconic creation, Ziggy Stardust

Above you can see a photograph I took of a plaque which is on the outside of the building where Sprovieri Gallery is situated. I enjoyed discovering this art, popular culture and music link. The plaque was put up to mark David Bowie’s iconic creation, Ziggy Stardust. It marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars, which featured a photo of Bowie, taken in the Soho street, on the front cover. It was shot by Brian Ward in January 1972, five months before the album came out.

Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition. Curating by curatorial curiosities

I have been working hard on curating my exhibition called Beyond the Bookshelves, at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design.

It has been an exciting, interesting and busy time so far working on curating this exhibition. I have met many different people along the way, ranging from artists to an army colonel!

Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition e-vite

Beyond the Bookshelves is an exhibition showing the work of three artists who explore the themes of text and books in their work. The exhibition space being used is the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design which was the purpose built college library for the Royal Army Medical College in the early 1900s.

The exhibition displays artists’ books and book arts made by book arts artist and painter Julie Caves, objects, sound and film clips from a live performative soundwork by sound artist and photographer Tansy Spinks and a specifically built display cabinet with book material by typographer and designer Phil Jones.

The curator has deliberately chosen three artists who work with different art forms and the exhibition also addresses the curatorial issues arising from displaying an exhibition in a non gallery space that has another daily function, as the silent reading room of the library.

cabinet by Phil Jones including two books - Tunnel Book and Staircase

The Space

Editor Norman Cousins wrote that, ‘A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life’.

This is certainly true of the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design which is the space chosen by the curator to show the exhibition Beyond the Bookshelves.

The curator began to be interested in this space, after assisting artist Tansy Spinks with her performance piece Silent Zone, Site and Sound  which was part of University of the Arts Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation Research Conference – Contested Sites/Sights. During that day, the space became an inspiring and thought provoking place to be and parts of its history and current function indeed started to come to life. This occurred for example, since the artist was using William Morris’s The Aims of Art and John Ruskin’s The Mystery of Life and its’ Arts, both of which are housed in the library as part of the extensive collection. This created a link with the wider field of the history of art and the function of the space.

Book Alphabet Book X-Y spread from artists' book by Julie Caves

Curator’s Choice

The process of putting this exhibition together has not only been a vehicle to looking beyond the bookshelves and discovering the history of the space, but also a way of exploring the process of curating and the multi facetted role of the curator. In order to create this exhibition, the curator fulfilled the roles of researcher, writer, editor, logistics project manager, artistic director and negotiator. The artists showing their work in this exhibition were chosen because of their direct links to the curator and working with each of them has marked important points along her career journey. The curator met book arts artist and painter Julie Caves during a short course completed in Independent Curating, at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. The curator met sound artist and photographer Tansy Spinks at a Camberwell College of Arts led trip to the Venice Biennale. This lead to the curator assisting Tansy with her live performative sound work Silent Zone, Site and Sound which was discussed in a previous blog post of mine that you can see here. The curator was introduced to the work of Phil Jones (a designer and typographer carrying out a PhD, the thesis title of which is The bones of the book: Schematic structure and meanings made from books) by Tansy Spinks at the London College of Communication PhD research show Research in Progress: Pushing Boundaries and Practices. You can read more about that exhibition which I wrote about here.

I will post more updates about the exhibition as I get closer to the private view evening. Currently I am working on liaising with the library staff and making sure everything is completed logistically so that the exhibition can take place – including the risk assessment and so on, getting hold of the necessary equipment for the show from technical staff, whilst I am writing and editing content for the accompanying booklet that I am making for the exhibition which I will then format, print and bind myself.

Further Exhibition Private View information

Chelsea College of Art & Design 16 John Islip Street London SW1P 4JU

Location within building

Old College Library 1st Floor, Block C Access through main college entrance on Atterbury StreetWheelchair access: Yes

 Library Opening Hours

Monday       09.30 – 19.30

Tuesday       09.30 – 19.30

Wednesday 10.00 – 19.30

Thursday     09.30 – 19.30

Friday          09.30 – 17.00

Saturday     10.00 – 15.45

Sunday             Closed

By tube: Pimlico (Victoria Line) By bus: 2, 36, 185 or 436 bus from Victoria to the stop before Vauxhall Bridge and walk left along Millbank, or along John Islip Street; 88 from Oxford Circus to John Islip Street; 87 from Aldwych to Millbank. C10 from Elephant & Castle to John Islip Street. 360 from Elephant & Castle to Pimlico tube station.
By bicycle: Cycle racks are located on Atterbury Street. TfL Cycle hire docking station is located on Rampayne Street (off Vauxhall Bridge Road).

Small and Strange Gallery Spaces… a gallery in a subway kiosk, a taxi cab & a filing cabinet

You may know by now that I am interested in non gallery spaces and unusual spaces for showing art. I love buildings that are historic, hidden, or just different because you might not expect an art gallery there.  Perhaps because I am just short of 5ft myself, I also have an affinity to small things. So altogether, this means that I am drawn to small and strange gallery spaces. In this post I am going to explore three small and strange gallery spaces. These will be: a gallery in a subway kiosk, a gallery in a taxi cab and a gallery in a filing cabinet.


The SUBWAY GALLERY born on the 6th of June 2006, is situated below Edgware Rd / Harrow Rd crossing in a W2 pedestrian subway underneath landmarks such as Paddington Green, Marylebone flyover and the Metropole Hilton Hotel. Conceived by artist Robert Gordon McHarg III, the space itself is a 1960’s kiosk with glass walls which creates a unique showcase for art, interacting naturally with passers by, visitors and the local community.

I like the fact that this gallery is underground so it’s a bit hidden and I am also interested in the concept of a glass fronted gallery, which the wonderful CHELSEA space also is. A glass front means that passers by can see everything that’s going on including the installation of exhibitions so that the curation of shows itself is a much more open process.

The SUBWAY GALLERY is currently showing The Rock & Roll Public Library, a testament to popular culture, springing directly from the enormous personal archive of Mick Jones. It is apt that the Joe Strummer Subway on London’s Edgware Road will lead you to the latest edition of The Rock & Roll Public Library at the SUBWAY GALLERY. This exhibition is of interest to me since I love music and also since I enjoy working with libraries and their collections, which you can read more about in this post that describes my work with a sound artist in the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design. Another connection to note is that CHELSEA space put on an exhibition of The Rock & Roll Public Library in 2009 and more can be read about that here.

Cab Gallery

The Cab Gallery was a project curated by London art dealer Paul Stolper, and London taxi driver and art collector Jason Brown.

The first Cab Gallery exterior featuring work by Bob & Roberta Smith.

The first Cab Gallery exterior featuring work by Bob & Roberta Smith. http://www.cabgallery.com/0_menu/cabg_frameset.html

As a working London taxi the art was to be installed in the spaces usually reserved for advertising. Each artist was sent a package with views and dimensions of all the spaces available on the taxi. They in turn sent back proposals and ideas for work they felt would be appropriate for a particular part of the taxi; be it inside the tip-up seat displays, an audio piece, a work to be placed on the outside body of the taxi, or a free standing work. http://www.cabgallery.com/0_menu/cabg_frameset.html

This innovative use of space brings together a love of London, its streets and art. You can read this CHELSEA space blog post  which describes how a special CHELSEA cab was made for the gallery. With all this talk of taxis, it’s a good moment for me to show you a picture that was just sent to me by a family member. This photograph shows my dad’s psychedelic taxi from 1968/9 and that’s my late grandmother in the picture. The taxi was featured in a 1960’s UK film called ‘Cry For Help’. It must have been a lot of fun going around in this car and if the taxi was still around now, who knows – maybe I would have my own cab gallery!

my Dad's psychedelic taxi c.1968 with Helen Ross, my late Grandmother

my Dad's psychedelic taxi c.1968 with Helen Ross, my late Grandmother

Bisley Gallery

Finally, turning to the Bisley Gallery which is a gallery in a filing cabinet that was made by three female BA Fine Art students at Chelsea College of Art & Design. I went to see it recently with Donald Smith, Director of Exhibitions at CHELSEA space. We were very impressed with what we saw.

the exterior of Bisley Gallery

the exterior of Bisley Gallery

BA Fine Art Student Jheni Arboine was given the filing cabinet and decided to set up the Bisley Gallery with two female course friends. The project and the principle objectives are for Jheni (in her own words) ‘to learn about curating, collaborating and exhibiting in the real [small] world’. The inaugural exhibition at the Bisley Gallery was called Everyday Biz the gallery was divided up into different ‘floors’.

poster for Everyday Biz, the inaugural exhibition at Bisley Gallery

poster for Everyday Biz, the inaugural exhibition at Bisley Gallery

Work from each of the three artists was placed together on the various floors. I love the idea of scale that is played upon here. For example, imagine if this was a real sized gallery and the visitor was walking underneath and between the sections of that yellow sculptural piece.

a floor of the Bisley Gallery

a floor of the Bisley Gallery

The three artists told me that it was a more difficult job than one would imagine, to curate the exhibition in the gallery and indeed they faced all of the curatorial and logistical issues that need to be dealt with when putting up an exhibition in a gallery of any size. I look forward to seeing the Bisley Gallery’s next exhibition.

Chelsea Salon Series

I have recently become involved in working on the Chelsea Salon Series. This is a project which was set up by two MA Fine Art alumni of Chelsea College of Art & Design in 2010. The Chelsea Salon Series is conceived as an initiative offering students the opportunity to meet outside the college premises in a variety of spaces to exchange ideas and forge productive relationships with galleries, arts institutions and the locality. Chelsea College of Art & Design is well placed to take advantage of the proximity of not-for–profit spaces.

piece by Sanghyun Ko -  Chelsea College of Art & Design student

piece by Sanghyun Ko - Chelsea College of Art & Design student http://www.photographssalonseries.blogspot.co.uk/

The forum is intended as an opportunity for students to get feedback in their practice and to experiment with ideas arising from their research thereby gaining confidence. It is also supporting student led teaching projects as well as alumni projects. It is specifically intended to be  hugely enjoyable and based on student interaction.

The Chelsea Salon Series is structured in such a way that allows for both PRACTICE and RESEARCH to be pursued alongside the curriculum in relaxed surroundings outside the academic institution with fellow MA Fine Art students and other invited artists, alumni, curators and arts
professionals. Although centered around Chelsea College of Art &  Design specifically it is intended to be inclusive and open and that this remit could help pave the way for support from educational charities.

Chelsea Salon Series event at New Gallery in 2011

Chelsea Salon Series event at New Gallery in 2011

For the next Salon event by the Chelsea Salon Series event, I managed to secure a wonderful historic Grade II listed building. I successfully negotiated the price down considerably and having approached the trustees with our project, I have now formed a working partnership with Hackney Historic Buildings Trust who have charge over the Round Chapel building in Hackney, East London. The Trust also owns St Augustine’s Tower nearby to the Round Chapel and I have run an event in the Tower when I worked with Hackney Museum on an Olympics connected project called Mapping the Change.

I was so inspired by working in the Tower when I ran an event for Hackney Museum, as it is such a unique space. The Tower  is all that remains of the old church of St. Augustine, which was built at the end of the thirteenth century when Hackney was a village separated by fields from the City of London. The Tower is Hackney’s oldest building and is a landmark of the area. Residents of Hackney walk past the building day after day and it occupies a noticeable position in the local skyline but many people know nothing about the Tower. There are a number of floors inside the Tower which are reached by a windy stone staircase. Inside, the inner workings of the Tower clock can be seen and on another floor, it is possible to ring the large bell! The most exciting part of a visit to the Tower is the rooftop level which reveals incredible views across London to glimpse Tower Bridge, Hampstead in North London and the new Olympics site.

St Augustine's Tower, Hackney http://www.hhbt.org.uk/

Since we want the most number of students possible to benefit from the Chelsea Salon Series, the Tower was not the most appropriate venue. Also, I am also holding on to it for a project that I’m working on!

The Round Chapel nearby to the Tower has a capacity of up to 800 people. This means that work in a range of media can be shown and we will also involve students (and some invited alumni) from Camberwell and Wimbledon colleges as well as Chelsea.

We are working on a small publication for the event which we hope will include essays and texts from MA Curating and Art Theory students. I’m so looking forward to the event and what we come up with!