With its intention to ‘kick-start a national conversation about written interpretation practice’, Interpretation Matters is all about the written material found in galleries – the text panels that provide context for works on show, and printed booklets that describe the works or overall programme.

Launched as a place where visual arts professionals can debate and discuss the effectiveness of these materials, the site also welcomes contributions from all gallery stakeholders – including artists, audiences, curators and those involved in gallery education.

The site has been conceived by arts writer and a-n contributor Dany Louise, with support from project partners Arnolfini, the Bluecoat and The Hepworth Wakefield. Announcing the launch, Louise said: “Text panels are such a visible interface between the viewer and the artwork, but there has been little discussion about how these panels are produced or how well they work. I want to shine a spotlight on this area of gallery practice, and bring it into more open debate, with the active involvement of curators, artists, gallery educators and the public.”

Already online are essays by curator Simon Martin, who explains the approach taken by Pallant House Gallery, artist Alistair Gentry, on how to make interpretative text more engaging, and Dany Louise, who argues that good writing is the key to good interpretation.

The site will also highlight both good and not so good practice through its regular ‘Good Writing Citations’ and ‘Tortured Language Alert!’ slots, with submissions invited for both. The aim is to provide useful feedback rather than to name and shame those responsible for bad copy, so organisations and institutions featured in Tortured Language Alert! will remain anonymous. Good Writing Citation #1 has already been awarded to Hayward Gallery for material relating to its exhibition Light Show.

Louise adds: “There are a range of ways to get involved. Anyone can give their opinion by commenting on the site and I welcome contributions of research, resources, case studies and writing from guest bloggers with informed opinions.”

Forthcoming features include an interview with Northern Art Prize nominee Emily Speed who discusses how interpretation is created for her exhibitions, case studies of project partners The Hepworth Wakefield and Arnolfini, and a curatorial perspective on texts in galleries from Sara-Jayne Parsons, exhibitions curator at the Bluecoat.

More on a-n.co.uk:

Dany Louise writer archive.