Friday 08 April 2016 – Sunday 18 June 2017
The day kicked off to a full house with a presentation by artist Keith Harrison who has recently had a residency at the V & A Museum. His work usually involves electronic interventions, a process – he confesses – with unpredictable outcomes. For the V & A he experimented with ‘self-firing’ ceramics, which were wired to internally fire, and produced a ceramic railway line running through the museum and courtyard. Other outcomes included ceramic turntables in response to a radio in Lucie Rie’s studio – recreated in the V & A. Sound and music are a key inspiration and prompted a series of ‘disruptions’ in the museum involving music, electronics with ceramic works.
Keith discussed the incongruity of his pyrotechnic ceramic works, the copious artefacts and artworks in the collection, and the valuable relationships he built with the museums employees, particularly the Health and Safety officer who also happened to be a pyrotechnics enthusiast.
Keith’s examples of ways to work with, and within, museum and heritage settings, provided an excellent grounding for the rest of the days speakers, who added different organisations perspectives on artist and museum collaborations: Judith King, Artistic Director of Arts & Heritage, described projects with fashion designer Stella McCartney and artist Hugh Locke. Tom Freshwater, Head of Programmes at the National Trust, spoke of the organisations history of working with artists and their increasingly ambitious departures into thought provoking and challenging contemporary art. Mary Godwin, Museums Relationship Manager (SW) of Arts Council England (ACE), shared ACE’s ambition to support partnerships between artists and Museums. And finally, Susie O’Reilly, Project Director of New Expressions introduced the programme and the New Opportunities Award.
After lunch, and the first networking opportunity of the day, we broke out into workshop sessions where the key question on everyone’s mind was: What do artists need to know about museum and heritage settings to get the best out of a collaboration commission (and vice versa)? Here’s what we found out:
Presentations by the speakers can be viewed on the links below:
The event communicated the mutual benefits for artists and museums working in collaboration. Rich discoveries are available to artists who can really engage with a museum’s collection to scratch under the surface and offer the museum and their visitors fresh perspectives on interpretation. The museum can attract new audiences, who have the opportunity to observe artistic processes, practice and engage with contemporary art, which provides new ways into the collection.
Working towards a South West where talented artists thrive, and a resilient and connected visual arts ecology that inspires more engaged and diverse audiences to value and advocate for its work.
Part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network