Lost is Found: Curation Process

Being a photographer, filmmaker and blogger, I originally signed up to be on the documenting team for our Creative Stars exhibition. Yet I was delighted to be offered the chance to be a curator as well. This meant I would also be on the team who would visit art galleries and artists’ studios to look at artwork and decide what we wanted in our exhibition. The curating team – I (Liz), Neetu, Jennifer, Alastair and Alex, met up regularly during the Curation process, and it was great to get to know each other better.

The team visited four studios – Rogue Studios in Manchester, Suite Studios Group and Islington Mill in Salford and S1 Studio in Sheffield. We also looked at work at the Royal Standard Studios in Liverpool. We were all impressed with the huge variety of different media the artists worked in, and the diversity of the art styles we saw. I particularly liked the work of Jon Barraclough in Liverpool, who often produces pieces of art which are very beautiful and fragile. I was also amazed and moved by the way Eileen O’Rourke at Rogue explores identity through embroidery created with human hair. There were some really impressive artworks across all five studios.

As a team, we curators made a note of the work we liked, and the documenters photographed them, then we re-grouped at Cornerhouse to look through each others’ choices. Over several full days in half-term we compiled a long-list, then a short-list, considering how the potential artworks would work together and what themes were emerging. We tried to include artists from all five studios, so that we could represent art from across the north – not just from Manchester. Eventually, we had chosen our final nine artists, and the pieces of work we wanted. We also had back-up choices in case the artwork we wanted wasn’t available – but luckily we got all our first choices, which was brilliant. We now have our final line-up of artists, and we have found a theme and a title: Lost is Found.

The idea is that when something is lost by somebody, it is often found by someone else, who may see it in quite a different way to its original owner. For example, one of our pieces is Louisiana Blues, Anywhere by Richard Proffitt. This piece is made from an old, burnt-out moped. Something that was probably once abandoned and seen as ugly and useless; it is now a piece of art which is very striking, symbolic, and perhaps, in a way, beautiful. The themes running through the exhibition include rebirth, recovery and fragility; the way something or someone can be transformed and given a new life, and the way almost anything can be beautiful if it is in the right place and given the right context.

I have really enjoyed the curation process, and am greatly looking forward to the opening of our exhibition; Lost is Found on Sat 14 January. I think it is an amazing show and I hope you agree.

Written by Creative Star, Liz Gibson (November 2011)