Is it co-curating or is it co-creating! Or is it putting up a small display in a glass cabinet? Any one of those would describe my morning at the Beaney Museum and Art Gallery in Canterbury, with the arts lead teacher from Hoath Primary School.
We had pre selected artworks made by pupils, taken from a huge cardboard installation undertaken by the school. We creamed off a couple of small boxes full of card and paper sculptures which we showcased in the Museum in Canterbury.
What was interesting about this is that it had to be spontaneous and the layout arrived at quickly. No clues no plans, just like an executive team building game on an away day. Who’s ideas, what level of finesse or finish, how do we agree what to make and with awkward access in small tight cabinet, where personal space is clearly going to be encroached upon. It was reality TV, but without TV.
All was well except my interpretation of a pupils sculpture of a flying bird. I suggested it was a salmon leaping up the water fall we had created, ‘a salmom ladder’ I said. Then I detected a slight note of surprise in her voice, ‘I thought it was a bird’. She was obviously right once I looked with a little more closely. I nearly replied, ‘I could cut the beak off’, but decided better not. I think the real idea was that this piece needed to be somehow airborne, suspended in space, bird or fish as long as it was in the air. We suspended it using fishing line in the upper story of our two layered display. We had some yellow paper, I thought it could really create a focal point, I didn’t know how, but suggested we use it somewhere. Children always have that quadrant sun in the corner of the paper, that is where I was starting from. She said, ‘The sun…What like the hole at the top of the yurt?’ The yurt was the mother display and this was just a small satellite and I thought that was actually an interesting suggestion. I sensed apprehension or somehow she couldn’t progress with the idea. We were so nearly done and it looked fine. It had been easier than I thought and I wasn’t going to make a song and dance about a yellow detail right at the end. I thought we worked together without any sticky moments and it was actually exceeded expectations. It is interesting being thrown together and how do you get to an unknown finish line.
A micro detail from the larger display ‘The Woodland’ inspired by the Lost Words book.