In June 2013 I will be putting on a free public exhibition called Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig, a line by Scottish poet Sorley Maclean. It will be on the topic of forests, history, and memory, and will range between natural history (specimens and found artefacts), social history (archival texts, photographs, and samples from museum collections), and art (book works, wood works, and installations). The exhibition will take place at this Grade 1 listed belfry in London (E2 9PA), which is also a community art gallery.
The Kickstarter is to supply the necessary funds which ensure the safety and appropriate display and transport of the objects, which will allow the museums and artists to loan them to us. The more funds we raise, the more exciting items we are able to include. There are also some other costs to cover - such as renting a projector for the film projection, and setting up the sound installation. The space which will be using is a beautiful old atmospheric belfry (some rough photos below from our early visits). It is full of nooks and crannies, perfect for innovative display, and will look amazing when lit with candles in jars and small lights to highlight the items.
A break down of the main costs:
SHIPPING - Certain of the works are fragile and will have to be carefully packaged and sent by post. Some of these will be international works, including wood cuts by Connecticut artist Bryan Nash Gill, and wood prints by Tokyo artist Katsutoshi Yuasa. These must also be safely shipped back afterwards. Non-London artists include Alec Finlay, Gerry Loose, herman de vries, Camilla Nelson, Colin Sackett, and Peter Larkin.
DISPLAY CASES - Certain items, such as the wood specimens from the xylarium at the Kew Museum of Economic Botany, must be displayed in museum-standard conditions. This means a museum standard display case is required, with appropriate security, otherwise we unfortunately will not be able to include these (the wood specimens are amazing things and can be seen in my photos here). The same goes for some of the items from the Epping Forest archives, which include an antique hunting horn, and early forester's diaries, maps, and correspondence. There is no alternative to these museum standard cases, so we need to hire a case for the length of the exhibition in June.
D.I.Y. INSTALLATION - Other materials will be installed in innovative ways, including in an antique Victorian writing chest. One installation will be a set of small texts attached to logs and to the antlers of a roe deer skull. Funds will be used to get hold of some suitable second hand wooden furniture on ebay, such as this cold frame, to use as innovative forms of display, perhaps using cheap Perspex glass fronting to protect the items. This will suit the themes of the exhibition, as the cold frame is originally designed for seeds and organic materials.
ADMIN - There are various extra costs involved in the printing of broadsheet poems, an exhibition essay, and exhibition signage, and a small cost for the free wine which we'll supply on the launch night. The exhibition relies on the hard work and good will of a number of people who may have to ferry items (such as the display case) from one location to another, or promote and market the event, or generally make themselves available, such as for supervising the exhibition (we'll need two people present all the time it is open to the public). I would like to be able to pay back any costs sustained where needed.
This will be a fantastic exhibition, showcasing some beautiful works, which will include a film screening, 'Family Tree', by Christopher Daniels (RCA), which will be projected on a loop on the belfry wall. The music and sound in the exhibition will be 'Noon Hill Wood' by Richard Skelton, 'with its achingly beautiful interleaved bowed melodies, drifting through ranks of pine, larch and birch'. The exhibition will be freely open to the public and further promoted by association with various research groups (such as Landscape Surgery, where I study, and the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group), as well as with all the participating institutions and archives.
The poster will be designed for free by David Chatton Barker, who previously designed the beautiful Lore of the Land poster. We will try and get the word out to as many people as possible. We'll also document the exhibition with photography of the launch and the installation, and hopefully arrange for it to be reviewed in several places. We hope for it to have a lasting influence as an innovative exhibition about the past and present cultures of the forest, bringing together historical research and museum materials with contemporary art and book works.
Risks and challenges
I am very lucky that some wonderful people have already been volunteering to help who have more experience than me.
The obstacles are all associated with the fact that this is an independent, community project, rather than something being run by a museum or a whole university who can easily arrange inter-institutional loans. I am not a curator by training, but a PhD research student, so this is very much a steep learning curve for me, and I am seeking advice from various participants about appropriate display conditions, insurance for transport and display of materials, etc.
I will make sure to continue involving friends and collaborators at every stage, as others can contribute guidance and ideas for the stages of curating, such as communicating with artists, museums, and galleries, and building and installing the display.
It is a very exciting project and I have already networked it well with researchers, historians, geographers, and artists - some very different communities of people who are all willing to be involved and offer guidance in different ways. I think this will be the best way to help me address any setbacks which come from my own inexperience, from doing this as an independent project, and from trying to balance the amount of work required.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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