Curating SURFACE exhibition at Chelsea Futurespace gallery

SURFACE is the latest exhibition that I have curated, this time with Daisy McMullan who is my colleague at my workplace CHELSEA space . As part of my role this year as Chelsea Arts Club Trust Fellow  (which you can read about here), Donald Smith – Director of Exhibitions at CHELSEA space informed my colleague and I that there was a gap in the exhibitions programme at our sister gallery Chelsea Futurespace and that we would have the opportunity of curating an exhibition there.

Chelsea Futurespace Exterior

Chelsea Futurespace from exterior to interior during SURFACE private view

The Challenges & Limitations

Chelsea Futurespace is not a space which has the sole function of a gallery.

Chelsea Futurespace is an exemplary collaboration between Chelsea College of Art and Design, Futurecity arts consultancy, and the property developer, St James Urban Living, part of the Berkeley group. It provides a showcase exhibiting space for the alumni and staff of Chelsea College of Art and Design set within St James’ Grosvenor Waterside development at Chelsea Bridge.

So, there are some challenges involved in putting on an exhibition in such a space which is a foyer to a high end residential development where anything from furniture deliveries to dogs and children being walked traipse through, but these can also be looked on as positive opportunities. As mentioned above, Chelsea Futurespace was created as an exhibiting space to showcase specifically work from alumni and staff of Chelsea College of Art and Design, so as curators there was already a structure within which the artists selected would need to fit.

As Chelsea Futurespace is also a living space with the day to day function of being used as the foyer and reception to the whole residential developement, this means that the gallery is part of the residents’ home and many families and children come through the space on a daily basis. So the artwork displayed has to be unobjectionable to viewers and any material that could be seen as explicit or offensive in any way cannot be shown.

Chelsea Futurespace walls

view of two of the exhibiting walls at Chelsea Futurespace during SURFACE exhibition

A practical point that had to be considered is that for exhibiting, the space consists of 4 two-sided walls, each 10ft square ie 8 walls each 10ft/306cm square. These white walls are moveable, but aesthetically and curatorially, navigation and narrative around the show would need to be succesfully achieved so there are only so many possible combinations for the walls which work well. As the space is used constantly for deliveries, as a shortcut and more, any artwork displayed in the space needs to be securely attached to the walls or safe and not pretruding in the way if not directly fastened to the walls.

The Artwork & Theme

So how did we as curators choose the exhibition theme, title, the artists and artworks? We decided that it would be easiest and most efficient to select a broad theme that would allow for a number of different media or artwork to be included into it. I was keen to avoid an exhibition which would only profile one media of artwork and from the start, as Chelsea Futurespace is bright and open, surrounded by large windows and water, I imagined the show to be colourful and rich in variation, interest and technique. The theme of surface allowed for artwork to be exhibited from painting, textiles, collage, drawing, print and objects, therefore crossing the boundaries between fine art, craft and design. I also felt that this range of artwork reflects the multiple areas of practice which are explored by students (and therefore alumni) of Chelsea College of Art & Design.

Charlotte Jonerheim's work at SURFACE exhibition, Chelsea Futurespace, 2013

Charlotte Jonerheim’s work at SURFACE exhibition, Chelsea Futurespace, 2013

Two of the artists I was especially pleased to exhibit work by, were Charlotte Jonerheim, whose work I had admired at the MA Fine Art Chelsea College of Art & Design summer show last year and Brian Chalkley whose work I have written about here. I knew that Charlotte would be able to work successfully in adapting to the limitations of the space as described above and that she would create an installation that was site specific, also using objects from her personal artist’s history which is a method used by Charlotte in her practice. I was determined to have Charlotte’s work included in the show so that there would be objects in the exhibition and not just artworks fixed the wall. In the end, Charlotte used a shelf she had made and a plinth from CHELSEA space to display her work which was the highlight of the show for me, physically coming out of the wall space, yet the delicate nature of the objects were protected.

Charlotte Jonerheim Excavation II 2012-13

Charlotte Jonerheim Excavation II, 2012-13 Cupboard, paint, porcelain, muslin & wax

Charlotte Jonerheim Excavation I 2012-13 Exhibit 1, fringe & wax. Exhibit 2, porcelain figure & surgical gloves. Exhibit 3, plaster, pigment, & bangle. Exhibit 4, porcelain, lamp holder & thread

Charlotte Jonerheim Excavation I 2012-13 Exhibit 1, fringe & wax. Exhibit 2, porcelain figure & surgical gloves. Exhibit 3, plaster, pigment, & bangle. Exhibit 4, porcelain, lamp holder & thread

The work by Brian Chalkley that we decided to show, were his collages which are made using fashion magazine figures that have then been altered by the artist. I love these images which are striking, playful and also prompt us to think about what we see in magazines that is real and what is invented. This couture collage technique is clever and fun.

Brian Chalkley. If you're gonna be on TV and in films, people are gonna look at you in the street, 2012

Brian Chalkley. Collage. If you’re gonna be on TV and in films, people are gonna look at you in the street, 2012


It was important to us that the branding for the exhibition was clear and consistent, since we also run CHELSEA space, the invitations, press release, mailout and list of works would stick to the Chelsea Futurespace style. We chose a font that was clear and that we liked the look of and each time the exhibition name SURFACE was written, we used the exhibition title font, so that the reader is not confused between the show title and the use of the word surface. Below you can see how the A5 black and white publication we produced matches the style of the invitation card. We chose one of the artworks from the exhibition by Kangwook Lee for the publication booklet cover as well as on the invitation card as it was decorative, detailed and it worked well with the text style.

SURFACE exhibition invite card and publication cover

SURFACE exhibition invite card and     publication cover

the curious curator with Charlotte Jonerheim while installing her work at the SURFACE exhibition at Chelsea Futurespace

the curious curator with Charlotte Jonerheim while installing her work at the SURFACE exhibition at Chelsea Futurespace

Curating the SURFACE exhibition was an enjoyable opportunity, being able to pick and choose artists and work that was to our taste. However, it was also challenging due to working in a multi functioning space with its limitations. The exhibition has been well received and has now been extended until 28th April 2013.

Reviews and Interviews

I have started a new category to my blog here, which is Reviews and Interviews. In this section, I will post links to the exhibition and museum/ gallery reviews that I write for One Stop Arts and more. I will also be interviewing artists, curators, gallerists and museum professionals in my network of my world of work.



If you are an artist, curator or work in a gallery, museum or cultural institution or you have put on a performance, exhibition or cultural event and would like me to review it or interview you about your work or venue, please let me know by emailing me

I will be able to publicise you and your work through my blog and social media outlets and it’s always good for both parties to exchange knowledge, experience and to collaborate!

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!

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.

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.

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.