Lucy Day is half of Day + Gluckman a curatorial partnership. She talked about how new shows emerge, what curators look for and what we as artists could learn from that to incorporate into our own practice.
Their shows emerge either out of conversations with artists about their work or from particular interests that she and her partner have. This process can take several years; they have been working on one of their current projects, A Woman’s Place, for more than 5 years. Curators are
a conduit between space and ambition.
A key idea was The Perfect Triangle: what an exhibition needs to be successful
a creative idea + a good publicity campaign + funding
Thinking in groups about what makes a good exhibition there was a lot of emphasis on the visitor experience: feeling welcomed, having enough information and so on. An exercise about what roles were needed in a team organising a show revealed just how many different angles needed to be covered: artistic, practical, marketing, funding, interpreting, documenting … – and often by only a handful of people. This was useful preparation for our student shows.
She encouraged us to think about our planning for a show using the same kind of structure they would use as curators: what are our plans about scale, ambition (you can’t have it all – good reviews, footfall, sales …), audience and outcome.
An interesting point she made about location was that people – i.e. collectors – don’t travel. She saw galleries moving back from East London to the West End.
As curators, they look for: confident practice, evidence of risk-taking, avoiding just following trends, being easy to work with (!). They seem to find artists often through personal recommendation – an encouragement to build our own networks.
Other key messages for us:
- research galleries and curators: know what you are looking for and where you will fit
- know what your work is about
- make it visible
- be self-reflective
- edit your work.