As the Head Technician and Curator for Coventry University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, I take responsibility for the creative planning and safe delivery of 12 students artwork to showcase in a 1920’s Jazz Age themed exhibition at ‘The Old Truman Brewery’, located in the heart of Brick Lane in East London. The exhibition will showcase a variety of art forms including projection, sculptures, paintings and photography. Upon acceptance of my proposal, my team and I must ensure the exhibition is conducted in a professional manner whilst maintaining a creative atmosphere the venue is accustomed to.
To ensure the development of the exhibition is proficient, all preparations will begin three weeks prior to the opening date. First, I will ensure that all the featured artists have delivered their artwork along with their relevant display instructions. Once I have received the work, I will observe the condition for each piece and undergo the initial condition reports to document any damages at regular intervals. Two weeks prior, I will visit the venue to finalise the exhibition layout and liaise with the technical team regarding any potential challenges effecting the opening night and the space as a whole. I will also liaise evacuation routes with the fire chief and hand over a list of artwork to prioritise in the event of a fire. When developing the final exhibition layout, I must consider the flow of people and their movement around the space taking the health and safety of the public and staff working the exhibit, into consideration.
Insurance and licensing:
Particular warehouse units in the venue are already covered under particular licensing acts. I will be using the first floor T1-T5 units and private studio therefore would need to obtain a Premises License to sell alcohol as part of my exhibition theme. Under The Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, I will also need to obtain a music license from the PPL and PRS as I plan to play typical 1920s Jazz music throughout the exhibition. Considering my space will be open to the public I will need Public Liability Insurance to protect the welfare of my audience as well as Art Insurance to protect the work displayed.
Marketing is a crucial component for the success of any event or exhibition. I will incorporate the core elemental 1920s consumerist value of ‘needing rather than just wanting’, by promoting the exhibition as being a needed experience. I plan to send out twenty personalised invitations to a selection of contacts alongside reminder emails to a larger potential audience. Social media is a vital and growing marketing strategy, therefore I will create a Facebook Events Page and an Instagram account where audiences can follow the progress of the exhibition as well as using the venue’s website as a platform to promote.
Travelling to exhibition/packaging:
I aim to transport the work to London a week prior to the
exhibition. I will contact the venue beforehand to ensure that there is
suitable loading bay access area nearby, to minimise the damage of the work
when unloading into the building. I have requested the units T1-T5 to be kept
empty and I will unload the work into these spaces to allow a reasonable time
to set up the space whilst reducing any damage from excessive movement in the
venue. Whilst packaging the work, a second condition report will be conducted
to aid post-transport analysis.
During the packaging process all the handlers will wear white cotton gloves to prevent fingerprint marks and the transfer of oils onto the work. Transit is an unstable environment for artwork and as curator I must ensure each piece is packaged safely according to the art type. I will backboard the paintings to absorb any shock from travelling and insert them in a slate crate, alongside the photographs, to keep each varied sized piece from touching. The projector will travel in a flight case to protect it. The illustrations on delicate paper will be rolled into tubes with acid-free tissue paper protecting each side to avoid any ferrotyping. The sculptures will be put into crates with engine foam to keep them in place and avoid any damages to their shape. The design product will also be put into a crate and by shrink-wrapping these crates; the work will be further protected from any temperature and moisture changes. To ensure the van is temperature and humidity controlled, I will use a digital hygrometer to measure humidity levels and a thermohygrometer (fig 1.) to get a combined temperature reading. All the artwork will be strapped to the van to reduce movement and I will use shockwatches to measure any excessive impact to the artwork during transit.
Arrival at exhibition space:
Upon arrival of the exhibition space, the van will park in the loading bay of ‘Elys Yard’ car park where there are multiple entrances into the space through T1, 2, 3 and 4 unit doors. This variety of access points allows efficient unloading as multiple works can be moved into the space at a single time.
During the unloading process, health and safety of the handlers and the artwork is imperative hence I will consistently use the ‘calculation of 3’ to assess all potential risks. All the handlers will wear protective clothing including steel capped boots, when moving the work and white cotton gloves when handling the art. All the relevant tools required must be thoroughly inspected beforehand to ensure they are in working condition. The pieces will be moved through the entrances on a wheeled trolley to prevent the work being dropped and any injuries to the handlers. During the set up I will check the humidity levels of the exhibition space and install hygrometers to continuously monitor and control the environment. I will also conduct PAT tests on all the electrical equipment to make sure they meet the relevant standards. Upon unpacking the work, I will check the shockwatches to monitor any damaging impact caused from transit. This information will be recorded in the third condition report once the work is unpacked after transit.
Layout and Installation:
The exhibition layout is heavily influenced by the artists’ preference in the way their work should be displayed. To prevent disturbance during the set up of the exhibition, the space will be emptied and blocked off and all the staff working on the exhibition will be PASMA trained to fulfil health and safety standards.
Lighting is a key aspect in my exhibition theme and by using a lux meter I will be able to measure the light levels. The natural light from the windows and doors will need to be blacked-out to create a dimly lit speakeasy atmosphere. Florescent tube lights inspired by Dan Flavin (fig. 2) will frame the illustrations and the design product will be isolated, spotlighted by a single standalone lamp. The six small sculptures will be standing on plinths with removable lids to use the hollow insides as extra storage space. Ryman hangers will be used to hang the larger paintings, however, fine tailoring pins will be used to hand the smaller paintings and photographs, both fixing types are discreet and secure. When ensuring the paintings are hung at eye level I will use a laser level whilst the photographs will be hung at different levels therefore I must ensure that all the invisible lines are corresponding for aesthetic appeal. The large sculpture will be suspended from the ceiling and therefore my team and I will need to hire a Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP). Finally, since there is no allocated space for the projection, I will build a corridor using false walls that will be dark enough for the projection to be visible.
The exhibition will run for approximately two weeks with an opening night. On the opening night, there will be refreshments located in the private studio to avoid the interruption of the exhibition’s atmosphere, here the audience will be given complimentary champagne displayed on a rotating champagne tower carousel. I will also serve fish based oeuvres and mixed nuts, popular items on speakeasy menus in the 1920s. The use of a large space is beneficial with an expectation of a large audience, as their movement will be directed efficiently whilst ensuring their safety. In addition, throughout the running of the exhibition, all the gallery attendants will be equipped with my contact details, on the chance that audience members wish to get into contact with me.
The morning after the final night, my team and I will be responsible for the swift and professional de-installation of the exhibition with the teams health and safety at the forefront. When packaging the work for transit, another condition report will be conducted to record any damages that might have occurred during the event. The holes drilled into the walls will be filled in and the venue restored to the condition we received it in. Once the artwork has been repackaged and stored into the van, I will have a debriefing with my team to discuss the successes, particularly around the theme and the challenges of the event and improvements for future events, this feedback will be reported to funders.
B&Q (2017) ‘How to build a stud wall’. in Youtube [online] available from < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJlz1L_cYgU> [24 November 2019]
Dean, L. (2019) Art Works on the Move [online lecture] module A204DVA. 7 October 2019. Coventry: Coventry University. available from < https://cumoodle.coventry.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/3070256/mod_resource/content/1/3%20wk%203_packaging%20%20moving%20%20handling%20%20storing.pdf> [23 November 2019]
Dean, L. (2019) Health and Safety [online lecture] module A204DVA, 28 November 2019. Coventry: Coventry University. available from <https://cumoodle.coventry.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/3105391/mod_resource/content/1/6%20wk%206_health%20and%20safety.pdf> [24 November 2019]
Dean, L. (2019) Plinths [online lecture] module A204DVA, 11November 2019. Coventry: Coventry University. available from < https://cumoodle.coventry.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/3117533/mod_resource/content/2/8%20wk%208%20assignment%20launch_plinths_lightboxes.pdf>
Gov.uk (2018) Guidance Alcohol Licensing [online] available from < https://www.gov.uk/guidance/alcohol-licensing>
Guggenheim (2019) Dan Flavin: The Architecture of Light
The Old Truman Building (2012) The Old Truman Building [online] available from <http://trumanbrewery.com/cgi-bin/index.pl>
The Old Truman Building (2012) F First Floor (T1-T5) Exhibitions [online] available from <https://trumanbrewery.com/cgi-bin/venue2.pl?sub=&rID=3249>
PPL PRS (2019) Do I need a music license? [online] available from <https://pplprs.co.uk/do-i-need-a-licence/?utm_source=pplwebsite&utm_medium=pws&utm_campaign=BAU_ppl&utm_content=PlayMusicPara1TML>
Figures: (see floorplan post)
Figure 1: Example of a Thermohygrometer
Figure 2: Dan Flavin Artwork on Lighting Architecture
Figure 3: Gallery layout from ‘The Old Truman Brewery’
Figure 4: Exhibition layout floor plan