Each week we take a look at what’s been going on with Norfolk’s Teaching Museum Trainees. Today we see Daisy, curatorial trainee in the Art Department at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery. https://nmsteachingmuseum.wordpress.com/
We’re now over seven months into our traineeships and things are going very well here in the Art Department. My experiences have been varied, often challenging and always exciting; I visited Leeds Art Gallery for the opening of British Art Show 8 (opening in Norwich on 25th June 2016), delivered a training session to my fellow trainees on British Studio Ceramics, worked with volunteer Keith to photograph a large collection and dealt with a number of unique enquiries.
It’s fair to say I’ve done a lot of interesting stuff. Most notable, perhaps, has been my contribution to the exhibition ‘Collecting in East Anglia’ which I helped my colleague Hannah Higham, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, curate and deliver. It’s been a multi-faceted process; exciting, challenging and the result of a cross-departmental effort.
Here’s how it went…
In July we created the long object list. The concept for the exhibition, which had been in the pipeline for some time, was focused on showcasing the museum’s recent acquisitions. I used Modes, our collections management system, to isolate paintings, prints and sculptures which had entered our collections in the last five years. Hannah and I talked about which to include and which to discount. Before long they formed natural groups, allowing us to explore another angle: how they came to be here. Were they bequests? Gifts from the artist? Or were they donated in lieu of inheritance tax?
With the long list complete, the Conservation team checked over the works and those deemed too delicate were mostly omitted, though some were remounted for display. Further curatorial considerations were discussed; do we need to show all four Cedric Morris drawings or will a pair represent the collection sufficiently? How will including a long term loan enhance the acquisitions story?
Having worked separately on accessioning a large collection of British Studio Ceramics, I was confident in curating a display to feature in the gallery. The pots had been acquired by bequest at the start of the year and up until then the museum had been less comprehensive in its collections of this kind. ‘Collecting in East Anglia’ presented the perfect opportunity to show them to the public.
We’d made our choices and were ready to begin researching for the label text. Hannah and I divided the works between us and I spent the following few weeks reading about Graham Sutherland’s thorn imagery, Walter Sickert’s relationship with Venice and the lifelong friendship of Cedric Morris and Lett Haines. Once we’d written, checked and edited our text I liaised with the Design team to have our labels produced.
We worked with our technicians to hang the works and with Building Services to configure the gallery lighting. It was quite a feat getting the lighting just right on the glass tower case but I love how it casts these subtle shadows on the wall behind:
Installation was great fun; it was exciting to be in the thick of it, to see our plans realised on the walls around us. It was a particularly special moment when the beautiful Barbara Hepworth sculpture (on loan from a private collection), arrived on site and was slowly hoisted into place. It has recently been restored in the Conservation Lab at Gressenhall and now sits centre-stage in the gallery.
Overall, this has been a fantastic project. I’ve learnt a lot and am both proud of the outcome and grateful to have been involved from start to finish. ‘Collecting in East Anglia’ is now open in the Timothy Gurney Gallery at Norwich Castle and will be until May next year. I recommend a visit!