Ananguku Art’s biennial curatorial workshop is aimed at the emerging curator and those artists and art workers interested in developing a deeper understanding of the role of a curator.
Responding to the feedback from the workshop held in 2011 the 2013 workshop limited the number of participants from 16 in 2011, to 10 and developed a stronger practical component to the program. Participants came from the APY lands, Port Augusta, Ceduna and the Riverland.
Karen Zadra from Marshall Arts presented on the first day and provided a strong case on the importance of provenance. Karen also discussed the three tiers of the art market fine arts, middle range art and tourist art. The role of the gallerist and the relationship between artists, art centres and gallerist was also discussed reiterating that each party has roles and responsibilities. Karen outlined all the needs that need to be met by a gallery and what is covered in the commission a gallery makes on a painting.
Participants spent an afternoon with the staff of Artlab and watched demonstrations of art conservation across a broad range of mediums; from early Chinese Ceramics to Australian Trade Union silk banners from the 1800’s, string masks from the PNG highlands that had been stored for so long that they needed to be steamed and let drop and marble sculptures that had become discoloured through the impact of the sun. Participants gained a good understanding of the different environmental elements and their consequences on art and books. Everyone had hands on practice with making a frame and stretching canvas and using an air gun to staple canvas to the frame. This also provided an opportunity to discuss and work safety issues.
Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the Gallery of South Australia Nici Cumpston, gave a guided tour of the AGSA’s collection and gave a great talk on the shifting curatorial emphasis in the Gallery and how it presents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. Nici also discussed the importance of the role of the Director of the Gallery and how she as a curator works with the Director. Nici stressed the importance of provenance and discussed some of the challenges of being able to attribute works collected by anthropologists to the creator of that piece.
Participants were given an introductory talk by Director of Samstag Erica Green she discussed the role of Museum within the context of an academic institution and the partnership with the Adelaide Film Festival. The exhibition currently on show was Daniel Crooks' video work exploring time and space. Curator Gillian Brown guided the participants through the works of Daniel Crooks and explained the some of the challenges in presenting site specific works and some of the considerations around multiple video and sound works within the one space.
Susie Jenkins and Ashleigh Whatling then provided participants with a series of images to curate they discussed themes, colours, similarities within the works as ways to look at the images. The group was then split into two with each ‘curating’ the chosen images and providing an explanation as to why the images were chosen. The object of the exercise was to demonstrate how the same images can be interpreted completely differently depending on the idea, the curator and the space.
David Kerr gave participants a tour of the Spinifex Exhibition, a partnership between the Museum and Flinders University City Gallery and discussed how the Museum works with people such as curators, other organizations, and academics to develop exhibitions. David gave a short history of the development of the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery space. He discussed the role of conservation and regulating the environment to ensure works were protected from the elements. He discussed how a museum differs from an art gallery in the presentation of information that accompanies an exhibit. Large text panels, interactive screens and archival film as a means to further explain the works. David was very encouraging of participants to discuss their ideas of projects and intern opportunities at the museum.
Penny Campton is a freelance curator and a practicing artist. She has extensive experience curating touring exhibitions and she took participants through how she sourced works for Good Strong Powerful, a national touring exhibition of works from three remote art centres in the Northern Territory. She showed slides of all the artworks and discussed the qualities about each work that attracted her attention and warranted inclusion in the exhibition. Participants engaged in conversation about the circumstances of the artists, the practicalities of sourcing the works, remuneration for the artists and the development of the thematic principals of the exhibition.
Troy-Anthony Baylis is resident curator at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. His art practice draws on popular culture and he has exhibited widely in Australia and overseas. Troy-Anthony is part of a larger contemporary movement, Indigenous and Queer, building on art, film and literary explorations of Indigenous culture that are evolving across Australia. In the workshop he spoke about curatorial practice from a developmental point of view beginning with the idea and the processes involved in working up a pitch. Using examples from his own curatorial experience Troy-Anthony demonstrated the steps that need to be taken in curating an exhibition from devising the theme, to selecting the artists and choosing the works. Participants were asked to develop a pitch for an exhibition either on their own or in small groups to be presented to a panel at the end of the day.
Franchesca Cubillo is Senior Advisor of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery of Australia. Franchesca discussed her role within the National Gallery and how the importance of an Indigenous perspective when presenting not only the Indigenous collection at the NGA but across all curatorial aspects. Franchesca Cubillo discussed the major ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions she has curated and used the recent ‘Australia Exhibition’ in London. Franchesca took participants through a history of the presentation and curatorial practices of presenting Indigenous Art from its beginnings as purely anthropological. Franchesca discussed the Wesfarmers program.