newcastleGRAFT Show Debate Rumbles

Kathryn Johnson supports the idea of having a show without a theme. She envisages something like the Royal Academy Summer Show.
Meanwhile Helen Schell is critical of the concept describing it amusingly as ‘a giraffe crammed into a monkeys cage’. Schell thinks newcastleGRAFT should be more ambitious and if we aren’t having a theme be aiming for a larger space in which we could group artists that emerge as having similar artistic concerns and then have follow up shows with these satellite groups.
I may be being rather conservative in terms of ambition but newcastleGRAFT have been offered a supportive gallery space care of the Cluny Gallery, having helped organise and attended past graft events knowing that participation in real world events isn’t always as big as you would hope I think this open show is a good start. Catherine Bertola also pointed to some interesting examples of exhibitions recording groups activities

An interesting example to look at is Pilot, a project set up by a group of artists in London who set up an exhibition where they invited loads of different people artists, curators, writers from around the UK to nominate one artist. Each artist was allowed to put in one work-although the organisers had been sent images and dimentions of the work by the artists, and films wer made into a showreel, they had no real idea what the show was going to look like. It was quite random and adhoc in terms of the type and content of the work, but as a snapshot of work being produced around the UK at the time it was really interesting

I think Katherine’s Royal Accademy Summer show is a great model as is the work of the group Pilot in London. The Blomberg New Contemporaries is another way to think about it.

Grouping artists together can be problematic. I like this excerpt of a discussion between John Milner (at the time professor of Art History at Newcastle University) and Sacha Craddock (at the time independent art critic, curator, college lecturer, chair of new contemporaries)

John Milner: If you’re working on ‘New Contemporaries’, for example, to what extent does the idea of coherence in the show take over, or do you consider each of the submitted works independently?

Sacha Craddock: It has to be considered independently and separately, although in the end there is a discussion and patterns do emerge. When Susan [Susan Hiller] was selecting, certain patterns did emerge which were very much of the time and you could look back afterwards and see that things had something in common.

The Producers: Contemporary Curators in Conversation (5) B.READ/EIGHT  [2002] publishd by Baltic and The University of Newcastle p.p 38, 39

It would be really interesting to get some learn’ed opinions of curators or trainees on the MA in Curating? Calling all curators?!


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