Art students meet curators at Birmingham Galleries

As part of their A-level Art course, Form 6 Critical and Contextual Studies group spent a busy day in Birmingham focussing on the programming of galleries as well as how exhibitions are curated.

Director of Art Mrs Elinor Brass tells us more:-

“The day started at the Barber Institute at the University of Birmingham, which is a beautiful purpose-built Art Deco gallery.  Clare Mullett, Director of Culture and Engagement and Head of Research and Cultural Collections gave us an introduction to its cultural collections. 

We were then lucky enough to have a tour of the Barber from Robert Wenley the Head of Collections at the gallery, which gave us a really good understanding of the art works on display, how they are arranged as well as some of the background into the gallery spaces. 

Clare then took us across campus to the collections study centre, where we met some of the other curators within the cultural collections department.  Artist Andrew Gillespie, who has done a residency at the University in the past,  came to talk to us about his project space called ‘Recent Activity’ which was an insight into an artist-led space in the city.  It helped students to consider what a gallery could be and how ideas are developed and funded. 

After lunch we headed into the city to the Birmingham Museum and Gallery, which is where we met Toby Watley the Head of Collections for the Birmingham Trust.  He gave a really inspiring talk about the council collection and how it is used in interesting ways to engage with a diverse audience.  Toby was able to give us a sneak preview of an exhibition curated by artist Rachel MacClean, which was rather fascinating as well as take us to the provocative “Women Power Protest” show. 

Our final stop was at the brilliant Ikon gallery, which is hosting an exhibition by young artist Haroon Mirza show entitled “reality is somehow what we expect it to be”. This was a perfect contrast to the other exhibitions and gave the students plenty of food for thought."

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