Tag Archives: Critical & Curatorial Practices

Artist as Curator – Reflection on Studio Practice

During the last year, I have tried to find a balance between my studio artistic practice and my curatorial practice.  My knowledge of curatorial practices has grown significantly in recent months under the guidance of my tutor Edith Doove and I have done my utmost to develop my skills in this field – particularly with regard to my own arts practice.

In my most recent studio project I have tried to take an objective look at how my work is displayed to allow for wider audience interpretation.  Quite often I have had a tendency to produce somewhat personal and subjective work which perhaps can shut off members of the public. However, my aim is to make my work accessible to a wider demographic in terms of being able to relate or connect to the pieces.

Furthermore, the curatorial aspect has made me consider how small distractions and unnecessary clutter can change the context and meaning of the work.  With this in mind, I have tried to limit the amount of equipment used in my CURA300 project.  I wish to keep the work as simple as possible so that audience members can focus on just a view elements at one time without having a visual overload.  With my video installation I used a small projector and although I may have been wise to try to disguise it, it was much more preferable than a larger projector, laptop and speakers.  The room for my video installation is quite small, so it was important to limit the amount of objects placed within the space.  (https://helaniemoore.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/856/)

It had been suggested that I remove the door of the room and replace with a curtain to allow for easier access to the room.  I can appreciate this comment as I would want as many people as feasibly possibly to view my work during Plymouth College of Art’s Summer Show.  However, there are other video/sound works around me – one of which is particularly loud and may cause a significant distraction if I were to remove the door.  I will have to create a sign for the door to advise audience members to enter the room to view my work and close the door behind them to allow them to witness the film projection at its maximum potential (if the door is left open, the projected film is not as clear as there is too much light filtering into the room.

As mentioned in previous posts I arranged the school desk and chairs in a specific way to not only allow up to two audience members seating to view the film but also to give a sense of superiority toward the desk which is placed at an angle in the opposite corner.  I wanted the desk to take on a life of its own and also present a substitute for a child who may have been told to stand in the corner of the class after misbehaving. (https://helaniemoore.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/installation-preparation-set-up/).

Furthermore, the furniture was chosen specifically to create a sense of familiarity and recognition within the viewer, with the hope of evoking an involuntary memory.(https://helaniemoore.wordpress.com/category/studio-practices/research/marcel-proust/)

There are probably still things I would change if it were possible to do so with regard to the set-up of the work (i.e. remove electric sockets, paint out electric cables etc) but I am satisfied with the result.

I have found my studio artistic practice to be quite stressful at times but have enjoyed how the pieces have come together and are improved by considering how they are displayed and curated.  Overall, I have enjoyed the role of artist as curator and feel that each aspect has benefited the other and become one amalgamated practice as opposed to two.



Install 28 April 2014

On the day of the installation William Danby had arranged transport of the sculpture at 9.15am from Studio 11 to the Council House building.  We only had the van facilities for a limited time, but managed to fit the entire sculpture (in several sections) in one trip.

Day of Installation: Transportation of Sculpture. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Day of Installation: Transportation of Sculpture. Photograph by Helanie Moore

Lee McDonald traveled with William to the Council House to transport the sculpture.  I was the only other person with a car on the day so I dropped Jess Bent and Kath Howard with the wall pieces to the Council House from Studio 11 first.  I then, over several trips transported the plinths and smaller view-finding devices with Maddy Crossley and Sarah Hughes, as well as tools/paint etc which we required.

Will, Lee and Maddy set about putting the sculpture together and fortunately all of our preparation and measurements had paid off because the sections fitted together perfectly and created no obstruction to the lighting.  This was the first time we had actually seen the sculpture in one piece!

Install of Sculpture: Photo by Helanie Moore
Install of Sculpture: Photograph by Helanie Moore

Jess and Kath hung the wall pieces using wire, eyelet hooks and picture hooks that wouldn’t damage the wood panels.  Tony Davey expressed particular interest in the wall pieces and said that he may be interested in buying one.  Following a brief discussion with our tutor Edith Doove (also present during the install), she felt that we should look into charging for prints and whether we would be able to also produce framed prints if people showed an interest in purchasing them.  We later decided to charge £25 for limited edition prints and £35 for framed prints.  Kath Howard and Jess Bent took on the responsibility of recording orders.

3 of the installed wall pieces. Photograph by Helanie Moore
3 of the installed wall pieces. Photograph by Helanie Moore

Myself and Sarah prepared the plinths (filled gaps/sanded) and painted them over dust sheets to prevent any damage to the marble floor.  After consulting with Councillor Penberthy it was decided that we would not place rope between each plinth around the sculpture because a) it would prevent people interacting with the sculpture, b) the plinths marked out a square shape around the sculpture – an invisible barrier and c) the sculpture was very visible and it was unlikely that people would walk directly into it.

Preparing plinths for install. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Preparing plinths for install. Photograph by Helanie Moore

The whole installation did not take long and we were finished by the early afternoon.  As mentioned, we had tried to prepare for all eventualities which had put us in good stead.  It was a great sense of satisfaction and relief to have the artworks installed successfully and to see that the hard work had paid off.

Install of Sculpture. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Complete Installation. Photograph by Helanie Moore

Artist as Curator – Reflection on Curatorial Project: Plymouth City Council House

The Plymouth City Council House group exhibition was truly an artist as curator project.  In the early stages of this assignment we had initially wanted to borrow work from an artist and curate the space within the Council House foyer.(https://helaniemoore.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/council-house-building-ideas-discussion-with-student-peer-group-16012014/)  However, as our ideas developed we collaborated together with artist Lee McDonald to produce new original artworks specifically for the foyer space and the Council’s theme of The Future of Plymouthhttps://helaniemoore.wordpress.com/?s=sculpture

I was particularly drawn to this project as the space was not the typical gallery space one might expect and it presented a challenge in terms of the listed featured which could not be removed or changed.  I personally relished this opportunity because I have had experience of working in similar environments (in Local Government with Council Members) in the past in non-artistic roles and felt this was an excellent opportunity to connect my previous experience prior to my studies and my current knowledge of fine art and curatorial practices.

This was an exceptional assignment which our tutor Edith Doove had put us forward for and the group members including myself, William Danby, Kath Howard, Maddy Crossley, Jess Bent, Tiffany Smith and Sarah Hughes made it our priority to make this project a success.

During our studies we had been encouraged to attend gallery spaces and exhibitions that allowed us to network with fellow artists and curators.  By doing so, I met local artist Lee McDonald at the Plymouth College of Art’s Ephemeron, “Artist as Curator”, Critique Event at Karst in April 2013. (https://helaniemoore.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/lee-mcdonald-kinetic-artist/) This connection with Lee ultimately led to this collaborative exhibition The Future of Plymouth, 2014.

I saw my role during this project as the organizer, administrator and all-round helper and supporter to my fellow group peers.  My input and duties involved the following:

I also consider one of my roles in this group project as keeping the group’s morale up and encouraging everyone in their endevours during this project.  I think I took on quite a lot of responsibility during this project but was happy to do so as I am quite impatient and like to get things organised efficiently and effectively to produce the best possible outcome all round.

I enjoyed working on this group project and felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction on pride on completing this project.  I feel that all group members worked together fantastically and harmoniously.  I would say that my strengths during this project were in the administrative and organizational processes and this was balanced out by William Danby’s technical abilities with Maddy Crossley’s assistance, Kath Howard and Jess Bent’s production of the wall pieces/prints and blog and Sarah Hughes and Tiffany Smith’s input into the draft proposal, poster and finishing touches to the sculpture and plinths.  Lee McDonald was a joy to work with and remained extremely humble and a team-player throughout the project.

Although the artworks produced during this project were not necessarily something I would have undertaken on my own, I enjoyed assisting in realizing our curatorial and artistic vision for the Council House foyer.  As mentioned in earlier posts we wanted to create something that they had not seen in the space before. Previously, the artwork had been mainly wall-hung pieces, however we wanted to change the space and create a playful nature in the somewhat intimidating, official space.  We did this by thinking about audience participation and Lee McDonald was an obvious choice to work with because of his interactive work.

By accurately measuring the space, we prepared ourselves well for all eventualities with the sculpture and wall pieces fitting perfectly within the space without causing obstruction.

The feedback we received was excellent and I feel we that we achieved what we set out to do.

This project was one of the main highlights of the BA (Hon) Fine Art, Critical & Curatorial Practices course and I am delighted that I was part of it.  The line between artist and curator was undoubtedly blurred during this assignment and I savoured every moment.



27/02/2014: Meeting with Rebecca Wickes and Anthony Cockell

On Thursday 27 February 2014 the students met with Rebecca Wickes, National Trust and Anthony Cockell, Gardener of Saltram House at Studio 11.  Below are brief notes I took during the meeting:

Earliest starting date: Monday 23 June 2014
Needs to be emptied/cleared by: Thursday 7th August 2014
Possible performance
dates(Jem Williams advised that Janine Rook would be happy to assist):  any date between Monday 23 June and Sunday 27 July -the earlier the better (bear in mind open air evening performance of Pirates of Penzance is on Friday 4th July)

Possible assistance:
Deep Blue Sound (Rebecca’s husband is a lecturer) – sound:
They will need a detailed plan/proposal asap – also possibility of using their equipment (Jem Williams and Reiss Portman have been given a freestanding board during their Bbroots project which we could use/adapt as a sound board).
Saltram House Tour Guide – literature info:
Can give further historical info and also have access to Saltram archives (won’t have to contact Devon Records Office).

Travel Expenses:
Rebecca to sign us up as National Trust Volunteers so that travel expenses can be claimed.

Press Release:
National Trust can provide press release template. Will also need to liaise with PCA Marketing Team.

Seating etc:
Saltram House currently in the process of obtaining furniture for chapel tearoom and there may be a surplus of items we can use. Also Rebecca suggested looking at knightssurplus.co.uk, Little Camden Market etc.  (We could create a seating area within the orangery to allow visitors to sit, relax and listen to the sound piece – creating a social hub).

Contact info:

Proposal – draft

On Tuesday 4 March 2014, I was advised that our tutor wanted us to have a proposal for the Council in the next 2 weeks.  I decided to type up a very rough draft as a starting point as follows:


An artist as curator exhibition between the students of Plymouth College of Art’s third year BA (Hon) Fine Art, Critical & Curatorial Practices including Jess Bent, Maddy Crossley, William Danby, Sarah Hughes, Kath Howard, Helanie Moore and Tiffany Smith, in collaboration with local artist Lee McDonald.


The Future of Plymouth […as outlined by Councillor Penberthy…but I’m sure we can choose our own title hopefully…]


The inspiration behind this exhibition proposal has been motivated by the enthusiasm and ambition of recent years, in developing the city of Plymouth into a cultural centre of exciting and innovative activity for residents and visitors alike.

This exhibition will focus on transition, change and looking forward, toward the future.  However, Plymouth is a city rich in history and heritage, something of which the community is proud of and gives the city an enhanced and multi-faceted prominence. 

“Study the past if you would define the future” –


With this in mind, the artwork to be placed within the Council House foyer, will work toward demonstrating a futuristic, avant-garde quality while highlighting the traditional internal features of the 1950s building.

The new works will be made by recycling materials to further emphasize the idea of promoting an environmentally friendly and sustainable future in Plymouth.

The first piece will be a vibrant […by this, I mean the colour – which still needs to be decided, as black may be a bit too formal…blue/orange?] sculptural viewing device […measurements…] to be placed within the centre of the foyer space […we need to visit Council Building to measure the central space to make sure of size and position…].  This will be a fully functioning sculpture that allows visitors to interact with the artwork […risk assessment will be needed…].  We feel the audience participatory element is an important factor, giving the spectator an active rather than passive role, as well as a sense of empowerment and engagement.  As artists as curators, we have also taken into account that the building is a formal space of serious nature and individuals visiting the building may have feelings of anxiety and trepidation.  By placing an interactive piece within the space, we hope to ease visitor concerns and give them back a sense of control and belonging, creating a positive impact on the audience.

The piece will be directed toward the engraved tablet commemorating the history of the reconstruction of the Plymouth […this is just an idea – the tablet is in the centre of the back wall between the two display cabinets…].  This will allow the viewer to consider the city’s historical nature, but also abstract what they are viewing. The sculpture will focus on certain parts of the tablet, multiplying and patterning [?] the selected text by use of internal reflectors [?].  This kaleidoscopic effect will act as a metaphor for Plymouth’s multi-faceted historical and contemporary magnitude, and emphasise the importance of the city’s heritage in developing its future.

14/02/2014: Student Group Meeting with Lee McDonald

The following is a brief summary of the ideas discussed following our meeting with Councillor Penberthy:

Wall piece:

  • Clad a section of the existing panelled walls in foyer with different sized wooden panels in block colour from floor to ceiling;
  • Colour: blue to reflect “Ocean City” – also a serene colour;
  • Coloured panels to gradually transition from the solid edge to edge coloured panels section to the existing panelled walls – creating a breakaway effect i.e. a transition of the old panelled walls to the new “walls”.
  • Coloured panels to be of differing depths to create a “landscape” to the wall and change the existing effect of the existing panelled walls.

To do list:

  • Everyone to collect wood for panels i.e. plywood, hardwood etc and store in Studio 11 and blue paint(?);
  • Arrange to measure wall space in Council House (also see wall plans attached on earlier post);
  • Arrange to meet up in Studio 11 at least once a week to start preparing panels.

Also considering two sculptural installations: light and viewfinder.

14/02/2014 – Meeting with Councillor Penberthy

My brief notes from meeting (also posted on facebook group page):

Ground floor:

  •  Listed items: etched glass screens, marble flooring, paneled walls;
  • Items to remain in space: plants (can be rearranged), lights, bookcases (can be moved), Warspite photo, model ships, awards to stay in glass cabinets on back wall, chairs/tables (can be rearranged), food bank box (can be altered).

Upper floor:

  • Listed items: wallpaper, wall paneling, filtered light ceiling;
  • Items to remain in space: trophies/awards in display cabinets, pictures/photos on walls.

Additional things to consider:

  • Theme: Future of Plymouth;
  • Exhibition to take place on or around 24th April (install of exhibition will likely commence from this date);
  • Building used 5 days a week;
  • All committee, fostering/adoption, licensing meetings take place in Council House – formal space;
  • Council Chamber off limits;
  • Use picture hooks on panelled walls only – no permanent fixings;
  • Lord Mayors event will be taking place during exhibition;
  • Reception room on upper floor can be included in exhibition (holds up to 200people and will be used for Lord Mayors event) – although large canvasses on wall are disguising bleached areas where pictures have been hung previously;
  • Technology: bear in mind that any technological equipment would have be turned on and off everyday;
  • Sound – can be ambient but if loud, it will need to be timetabled in as a special event;
  • If controversial work is being considered by students, it would be best to put this forward to Councillor Penberthy and the rest of the committee before moving forward.