Thursday 11 December 2008

2 days to go.....installing the exhibition

All the months of selecting work and researching and writing wall texts and labels are essential for an exhibition. However, it is only when works start coming into the gallery spaces and the curator puts the puzzle together that he or she knows if the concept has worked, particularly with such a varied show as The Enchanted Garden. Scott Everson, our designer, has been busy with the preparators, painting walls, (demolishing or moving them on occasion), and working out issues to do with lighting and projection.

After crates and travelling frames have been unloaded the works are put on sponge ‘softies’ randomly against any wall space available, and it is at this point that the curator can sometimes have a moment of panic! Then, gradually, as the works get grouped according to their themes, (and occasionally one gets rejected because it just can’t fit on the allocated wall) it starts to come together. The designer, preparators and curator work together as a team, patiently moving works left or right, experimenting with a particular hang until it feels just right. It’s exhausting, both physically and mentally, but extremely satisfying when it all comes together.

With this show, there are also a range of objects from private collectors, artists’ projects and the decorative arts collection at the Auckland Museum. All of these go in last, except for a delicate embroidered quilt, which has to be suspended high on a wall. Only then can the botanical prints that sit either side be laid out. Finally, there’s the knitted tea cosy, Meissen porcelain, the Maria Loboda vase of floral curses, dvds sculptures etc.

Two days to go, but now we know we’ve got a show!

The Enchanted Garden - opens 13 December 2008

image credit:

Peter Siddell
Tombstone Angel
acrylic on hardboard
Auckland Art Gallery, bequest of Miss L D Gilmour 1990


Anonymous said...

Hi there,
wishing you all the best of luck with putting the puzzle together and the launch of the exhibition. How much time do you give to play with things to make sure they are in the right place. and how much is it based on intuition and\or experience?
Cheers, J

Mary Kisler said...

Hi J
thanks for your comment. We spent two weeks in total laying out the exhibition - but as always people were still rushing round with brooms sweeping the floor, and also touching up any marks on the walls, half an hour before the exhibition opened.
What I always find most interesting, is that even though we try all sorts of computations when installing, the designer and I often end up with a layout discussed before installation. Because I have seen all the works and put them together to suit a particular theme, it generally works.
For a curator, though, there is nothing that fills you more with apprehension than waiting to see if your intuition has been right, and nothing more exciting when it all works. If something doesn't seem right, it either gets dropped from the show, but there are times when you suddenly realise that it will work if you move it to another place in the room.
Cheers, Mary

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mary for the insight. I wish the team at the gallery a successful exhibition. J