Artists/Curators Starting A Dialogue @ Harris Gallery & Museum, Preston

This is a guest post by Denise Swanson, a fine art photographer and blogger at Abstracts of Nature. You can follow Denise on twitter @abstracts . If you’d like to write a guest post for Preston Blog check out how you can get involved.

harris museum and art gallery

harris museum and art gallery

When I first received the invitation to this event from LAN – Lancashire Artists Network – I immediately booked a place and I was glad I did, as it sold out quickly and had a reserve list. It sounded to be an interesting topic for discussion and we were not disappointed.

The event was chaired by Professor Lubaina Himid, Professor of Contemporary Art at UCLan, who started off by explaining how the artist in her often had dialogue with the curator in her and recognised that this was a privilege that most artists did not share. How do artists and curators begin their dialogues, what are each looking for and how do they help each other, were some of the issued raised which the guest speakers would try to address.

First up was John Angus, Director of the Storey Gallery in Lancaster, one of a group of artists who set up the gallery 17 years ago. Against all the odds, they kept the gallery going and between them held 100 exhibitions, each taking it in turn to curate, before the building was temporarily closed for refurbishment. He talked about the time consuming business of establishing and running a gallery and the constant need to obtain funding in order to present shows which would attract an audience as well as build a reputation for the gallery.

Sophie Crilly is an artist and director with Mark Kennard of Bureau, Salford, a relatively new space which was set up to address the needs of exhibiting work from new and emerging artists in and around Manchester. Sophie spoke enthusiastically about how rewarding the venture was and how they have selected artists to represent as well as work with the space they have. She again spoke of the constant need for finding funding and how it was necessary to strike a balance between the work they wanted to show and that which would attract an audience.

Fiona Enables, Exhibitions Officer from the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Cumbria, talked about how she felt there was a symbiotic relationship between artists and curators as both need each other. She felt it was important to try taking audiences out of their comfort zones by showing new and different work from regional, national and international artists but that it was also necessary to work within the boundaries in order to attract audiences and the all important funding in order to be able to stage the shows.

Richard Smith, Assistant Exhibitions Officer at the Harris Museum and curator of the Stairway Gallery, talked about how that space, which is dedicated to showing various art forms from regional artists at different stages in their career, could be used. He explained how past exhibitions had made use of the space and that amongst successful proposals were those which had engaged with it as well as those which had provided audiences with the opportunity to participate. The current exhibition in the Stairway Gallery features work by local artist Pete Flowers.

The final part of the evening was a ‘Question Time’ type session, where members of the audience asked questions and member of the panel had an opportunity to respond, which sparked off more debate.

Also held as part of the evening was a guided tour of Robert Cahen’s Passage exhibition which features a series of video installations that consider human experience of the flow of time, journeys and transiency, dreams and memories, reality and perception.

The event was organised by Lancashire Artists Network and Green Close Studios.


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