Image: Ctrl/Shift installed at Midlands Art Centre, July 2018. Photo by David Rowan, courtesy of MAC.
The exhibition projects I create are centred on contemporary craft and design practice, but not exclusively about designer/makers, and these projects often have strong participation projects. I work closely with artists, investigating their own aims and ambitions, and exploring how to fulfil these and ignite ambition in others; creating dynamic and provocative exhibitions and events that support venues’ own goals for audience development. I’ve secured and managed funded commissions, creating suitable environments for artists to explore and experiment, and to increase the scale and intent of their work.
My programming is driven by deep curiosity about ideas, materials and techniques; a continued thirst to learn; and the desire to communicate with diverse audiences, to elucidate, entertain, educate and provoke thought and debate. I am intrigued by the processes, both physical and intellectual, that underpin creative development; artists’ handling of materials and technologies; and how artists tackle challenging subject matter and present this to audiences.
Alongside detailed examinations of the whole life practices of thoughtful and thought-provoking artists such as Renate Keeping (whose output reflected on her family background as displaced German Jews and working class Londoners, family life and the ageing process), I also programme on themes of great interest to me. For example, Beauty is the First Test was an examination of how art and craft practices use mathematical theories, both implicit and explicit, to complete works of great technical skill and pleasing appearance. It was a deliberate challenge to the phobia that many people experience about maths and numeracy skills. What Do I Need to Do to Make it OK? toured for two years, and looked at damage and repair in the natural world and to bodies and minds, asking how we reconcile ourselves to change.
Curatorial CV (all artist and makers from UK unless otherwise noted):
2019 – 2020 Surface Matters: critical selection 2019-2020. Juried selection of 24 makers and designers based in or from Ireland & Northern Ireland (includes one German silversmith). For Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCI).
The Coach House, Dublin Castle, 22 February – 18 May 2019
CCAM Barcelona, 3 May – 21 July 2019
National Design & Craft Gallery, Kilkenny, 22 November 2019 – 4 March 2020
2018 – 2020 CTRL/Shift: new directions in textile art. In partnership with The 62 Group of Textile Artists and Midlands Arts Centre. Twentyfive artists from Hungary, Netherlands, Sri Lanka and UK. Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham, 21 July – 9 September 2018
The National Centre for Craft & Design (NCCD), Sleaford, Lincs, 2 February – 22 April 2019.
20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe, North Lincs, 14 December 2019 – 29 February 2020.
2019 – 2020 Pattern & Sequence, selling showcase of fifteen designer-makers (includes one Japanese jeweller). Co-curation for Design-Nation, at NCCD, 19 October 2019 – 5 January 2020.
2019 The Future of Craft, partnership showcase of over 20 makers at London Craft Week 2019, with Design-Nation, Oxo Tower Wharf & Future Icons.
2018 -2019 Colour & Form, showcase of thirteen UK glassmakers (includes one South Aftrican glass artist), for Design-Nation, at NCCD.
2018 Illuminations at Decorex, and Green Light at DesignJunction, twin commercial showcases for Design-Nation at London Design Festival 2018, showcasing 14 designer-makers.
2018 Head, Hand & Heart, touring group exhibition of twelve craftspeople and designers from Design-Nation’s portfolio at London Craft Week, Helen Yardley Studio, London and Eunique, Karlsruhe, Germany.
2017 Working Together at Decorex, commercial showcase for Design-Nation at London Design Festival.
2017 Marks & Tools, group exhibition of twentyfour craftspeople and designers from Design-Nation’s portfolio at London Craft Week, Oxo Gallery, Southbank, London.
2017 Artist Meet Their Makers for West Dean College and Crafts Study Centre (CSC), Farnham. Artists: Basil Beattie RA, Emma Biggs & Matthew Collings, Michael Brennand-Wood, Rebecca Salter RA, Philip Sanderson, Katharine Swailes, plus case studies on projects with Tracey Emin RA & Faye Toogood Studio. Included film commission with R&A Collaborations.
2015-2017 What Do I Need to Do to Make It OK? Group exhibition investigating damage & repair. Pumphouse Gallery (PHG) London and touring: CSC; Devon Guild of Craftsmen (DGC), Bovey Tracey; R-Space Gallery (RS), Lisburn; Forty Hall, London; The Knitting & Stitching Show (K&S), London; NCCD; Rugby Art Gallery & Museum (RAGM). Artists: Dorothy Caldwell (USA/Canada), Saidhbhín Gibson (Ireland), Celia Pym, Freddie Robins, Karina Thompson. All artists commissioned to make new work. Included extensive public programme with symposium, talks, workshops, community projects and artist residency at Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace.
2014, 2015 & 2016 Design-Nation at Decorex International. Annual commercial showcases for high-end interiors event, showing between five and eight designer-makers each time.
2013 Growing (10th anniversary exhibition) for NCCD. Co-curator with Laura Mabbutt. Survey show, 39 contemporary artists, makers and designers from nine countries across UK, Europe, Japan and USA.
2012-2014 Beauty is the First Test, touring exhibition on contemporary craft & mathematics. PHG; RS; NCCD; Bilston Craft Gallery (BCG), Wolverhampton; Platform Gallery, Clitheroe; National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland. Artists: Gail Baxter, Michael Brennand-Wood, Suresh Dutt, Electric Egg, David Gates, Janice Gunner, Stella Harding, Lesley Halliwell, Janette Matthews, Lucy McMullen, Carol Quarini, Peter Randall-Page RA, Margo Selby, Ann Sutton, Laura Thomas. Included publication, film by Electric Egg and furniture commission by David Gates, and a varied public programme.
2012-2013 Made in the Middle, group exhibition of 36 designer-makers (included one German silversmith). Craftspace in partnership with Midlands Arts Centre and NCCD. Co-curator with Craig Ashley and Emma Daker. Touring. Included mini apprenticeships for young people and a symposium.
2010 Holland Paper Biennale: a curated selection. Alexandra Palace, London. For Creative Exhibitions Ltd. Fifteen artists from Finland, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, UK, USA
2010 Under the Counter: conversations in jewellery. In partnership with maker collective Intelligent Trouble (artists marked *) for Smiths Row (formerly Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery). Artists: Roseanne Bartley (Australia/NZ), Elizabeth Callinicos, Helen Carnac*, Lin Cheung*, David Clarke*, David Gates*, James Evans (UK/Canada), Benjamin Lignel (France), Timothy Information Ltd.
2009 Making and Mending, Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery (BSEAG). Artists: Stephen Dixon, Daniel Edelstyn, Jennifer Hollingdale, Hilary Jack, Kai-Oi Joyce Yung, Celia Pym, Freddie Robins, Michael Swaine (USA), Alison Walsh.
2009 Better than Grey: a serious consideration of colour, BSEAG. Included publication and two artist commissions (*). Artists: David Austen, David Batchelor, Jan Beaney, Natasha Daintry*, Edmund de Waal, Olafur Eliasson Hon RA (Denmark/Iceland/Germany), Marta Marce (UK/Spain), Anri Sala (France/ Switzerland/Albania), Laura Thomas*, Rachael Woodman
2008 Door to Door Darning, participative project by Michael Swaine (SA), various locations, London. Producer/curator.