The RBSA’s Young Curators’ project gives young people a fantastic opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the process of putting on an exhibition. In October 2012 the four of us were chosen to curate a show of studio ceramics. With guidance from RBSA staff and ceramics specialist David Whiting, we have worked really hard to create The Art of Clay (24 April to 4 May 2013).
Through our exhibition, we aim to show the range of ceramics being created in Britain and to expand perceived notions of clay as an art medium. We selected pieces to represent four categories in clay; abstract, figurative, vessel-based and purely functional ceramics. Within these themes, each artist we chose deals with clay in a variety of styles, technique and subject matter. The pieces embody the diversity of ceramic work that artists are able to create using clay, and are made by a range of exhibitors, many of whom have international reputations, while others are still establishing names for themselves.
We made our initial selection after an intense period of research into the medium, and we consulted catalogues, books and websites. We also made use of the contacts passed on to us by David Whiting and the RBSA. After composing our request letters to the artists, writing about the Young Curators’ project and the aims of the exhibition, we were pleased that we had successful responses from almost all of those invited. From this group we refined our selection, choosing the exact number and type of works we wished to exhibit within the space available. We were also involved in the installation, interpretation and marketing of the show – we even arranged delivery dates, wrote catalogue essays and made a press release!
The Art of Clay has taken a lot of planning and preparation alongside our academic studies. We had no previous experience of ceramics – our academic course being focused on the fine arts – and so we found the project to be a steep learning curve…! However, it has provided us with insights into ceramics, the structure of an art gallery, how to deliver an exhibition and the business elements of the art world. We have gained a great deal of work experience and hope visitors feel that we have created an interesting and high-quality show.
For more information, visit the Art of Clay website: http://www.rbsa.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/the-art-of-clay-exhibition/