Category Archives: MA Curating

MA Art History and Curating Student Exhibitions, 2018

We are delighted to announce this year’s exhibitions, produced in partnership with our wonderful exhibition partners, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Royal Collection Trust and, Grand Union. Below are details of our two student exhibitions, opening this June. We hope you can join us!

  • Drawn to Perfection: Masterworks on Paper from the Royal Collection

Barber Institute of Fine Arts, 15 June-23 September

Details, http://barber.org.uk/drawn-to-perfection/

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Filippo Lauri, ‘A ceiling design for Palazzo Borghese’, 1671, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

MA Art History and Curating students, in collaboration with the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and the Royal Collection Trust, present their exhibition, Drawn to Perfection: Masterworks on Paper from the Royal Collection.

This first exhibition in an exciting new partnership with Royal Collection Trust explores the use of drawings – as preparatory sketches and studies for paintings and frescoes, tapestries, sculpture or architecture, and as detailed working designs that allow an artist to explore the subject or trial compositional ideas. It includes a wealth of exquisite works on paper by outstanding Renaissance and Baroque Masters, including Bernini, Carracci, Claude, and Poussin. The artists featured used a great variety of techniques and media, and their work thus provides a rich introduction to the practical skills of drawing. The exhibition has been curated by students on MA Art History and Curating under the guidance of staff at Royal Collection Trust and the Barber. Generous loans by Her Majesty The Queen have been supplemented by items from the Barber’s collection. The exhibition is accompanied by a booklet researched and written by the student co-curators; available at the Barber. For public programming, please refer to the Barber What’s On guide.

  • Three Models for Change

Central Art Gallery, 1-10 June

Opening: 1 June 6-9pm

Centrala, Minerva Works, Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 5RT

Open: 2 June – 10 June | Open Tues – Sat 11-5pm

Artists: Chris Alton, Ian Giles, Greta Hauer

Details and public programme, https://grand-union.org.uk/gallery/three-models-for-change/

MA Art History and Curating students, in collaboration with the programme’s contemporary art partner, Grand Union in Digbeth, present their exhibition, Three Models for Change. This features new commissions and existing works by the artists Chris Alton, Ian Giles, Greta Hauer. It asserts the importance of historical awareness in establishing future potentials of communities. The works fluctuate between three actual and staged narratives: the formation of a fictional Quaker-punk band; the staging of cross-generational Queer histories; and the uncertainty surrounding a newly formed volcanic island and its territorial disputes. Ian Giles is developing a new performance project on queer spaces for the exhibition; auditions are on 28 May and the performance is on 9 June – for details, see here. The students are currently crowdfunding to publish a reflective publication on the exhibition. Please support them, at here

The MA Art History and Curating is run by the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies. Applications are still open for this coming year. For details, contact the programme convenor, Dr Claire Jones, c.jones.4@bham.ac.uk

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All the World’s a Stage: Charlotte Bagwell on curating this year’s MA exhibition at the Barber

‘All the World’s a Stage: Court Patrons and Writers in Shakespeare’s Circle’, the department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies’s annual MA exhibition, is open at the Barber Institute of Fine Art. As part of the country-wide commemmorations of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this exhibition brings together paintings, prints and miniatures from the collection of the National Portrait Gallery and the Cadbury Research Library.

Inspired by an extract from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It– ‘All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts’- the exhibition explores how Shakespeare’s circle constructed character through their use of portraiture. It features iconic images of Shakespeare, including the one from his first folio, alongside those of other writers, patrons and members of the court, such as Ben Jonson, Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex, and Anne of Denmark, queen for the latter period of Shakespeare’s life.

 'William Shakespeare', Plaster cast after Gerard Johnson, (c.1620) © National Portrait Gallery

‘William Shakespeare’, Plaster cast after Gerard Johnson, (c.1620) © National Portrait Gallery

The exhibition was co-curated by the nine students studying the department’s Art History and Curating MA course. The course gives practical, real life experience in planning exhibitions, as students work alongside Barber staff in planning a display for the Lady Barber Gallery over the summer period. In addition, the opportunity to work with the National Portrait Gallery and to be credited as co-curating an exhibition at such a prestigious gallery as the Barber certainly looks good on the CV! The topic for the course and exhibition changes each year, and while not everyone in the group had an existing interest in Elizabethan and Jacobean portraiture, the possibilities of the exhibition meant that, for a while at least, everyone enjoyed researching this era.

Some of the highlights of the course included visits to the National Portrait Gallery, both to view works in the store, as some of the portraits were not currently on display, but also to meet, discuss and have the occasional talk with people in various roles from the NPG. Being able to discuss the exhibition with Tarnya Cooper, the NPG’s Curatorial Director, who not only specializes in sixteenth-century art, but who had also curated a previous Shakespeare exhibition, was a particular highlight. In addition, we attended social media talks and had a visit to the conservation studio.

The course is unique in that the curatorial students are given a topic,  but are then a free to decide on whichever theme and narrative they deem best. This is an excellent way to conduct the course, as I think us nine students would have struggled to come up with and agree on an exhibition entirely from scratch! The freedom to make our decision knowing that the Barber staff were on hand if we needed them meant that it really felt as if we were in control of the exhibition and were therefore learning real life and negotiating skills.

A particular highlight for everyone was to be involved with the installation of the exhibition, especially learning what goes on when high value loans arrive at institutions.

It also taught us the flexibility needed as a curator, as the floor plan had to be redesignedduring installation to allow room for the audience to full appreciate the striking, full-length portrait of the Earl of Southampton. This shows that even the best laid plans still need a backup and made us fully aware of the amount of planning that goes into an exhibition.

'Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton' by unknown artist, (circa 1600), © Private Collection, on long-term loan to The National Portrait Gallery

‘Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton’ by unknown artist, (circa 1600), © Private Collection, on long-term loan to The National Portrait Gallery

Overall the entire group really enjoyed the course, even people whose specialties and aesthetic loyalties lay elsewhere. We were lucky to have a topic such as Shakespeare to around which to curate an exhibition and we had some great leadership from Claire Jones our tutor and the Barber staff. Everyone felt that they had learned a huge amount from the course in terms of planning a loan exhibition and negotiating the difficulties that exhibitions can entail.

The exhibition is open till the 25th September. More information can be found on the exhibition’s webpage http://barber.org.uk/all-the-worlds-a-stage/

Writing Workshop- Saturday 17th September.

The workshop explores Shakespeare’s language and form in contemporary writing

 

 

 

 

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