Remembering Exhibitions - A Collaborative Project with the University of Bristol

In spring 2013 the RWA worked with students from The University of Bristol’s Art History: Histories and Interpretations MA course to curate an exhibition that explored the RWA’s exhibition history.

The project was run as a Collaborative Study Unit providing students with an opportunity to undertake object based research as well as gaining practical curatorial experience in a public collection. Students worked in small groups to develop an exhibition narrative, selecting specific works, documents and ephemera to research for display. They then worked as a group to plan and deliver an exhibition taking into account layout and physical display elements such as lighting in addition to producing labels and interpretation material to encourage public engagement.

The Study Unit follows in the footsteps of past collaborations between the University and external partners including The Holburne Museum - Bath; Tate Britain London; National Museum Wales - Cardiff; National Portrait Gallery - London and the National Trust at Montacute House - Somerset.

The resulting exhibition at the RWA was inspired by the RWA's extensive collection of exhibition catalogues documenting the Academy's rich history of exhibitions and exhibitors.

Cat Collage

Specific RWA exhibitions which inspired the student's research and selection of work included: French Modern Art Exhibition, June 1930; British Painters in France, 26 May - 13 June 1953; Paintings by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, Memorial Exhibition; Paintings by Dorothy Larcher and Phyllis Baron, 25 April - 18 May 1966; Annual Spring Exhibition - RWA Appeal Exhibition of Member's Works, 1 - 22 May 1963; 130th Annual Exhibition, 15 November - 11 December 1982; Selected Works from the 107th Exhibition, 1959 - 1960; Michael Porter, Shining Cliff Wood Paintings, 1999 and Richard Long, 2000.

Remembering Exhibitions, 23 May - 19 June 2013

An exhibition marks a moment. It can define a movement, highlight an artist or characterise an institution. The RWA boasts a rich and fascinating history of past exhibitors and exhibitions dating back to its inaugural group show in 1845. Since then it has shown Canaletto, Rembrandt and Velasquez in a celebration of old masters, as well as bringing Gauguin, Bonnard and Rodin to the provinces in a seminal RWA exhibition on French Modern Art, 1930. This spring the RWA will be working with students on the University of Bristol’s MA course in Art History to curate an exhibition that explores our ‘collective exhibition history’. The exhibition looks at art and its documentation, retracing the past and exploring the concept of absence and memory. The exhibition will focus on works from the permanent collection to bring the Academy’s exhibition history to life, using archival objects including catalogues, photos and show posters to address not just what we remember, but how we remember.

Curated by Yui Araki, Aimilios Champis, Sun Young Kim, Lucy Paddy, Jill Sutherland, Nicola Williams, Ashley Wu and Yi Zhu.

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Remembering Exhibitions, Cube Gallery, RWA.

Exhibition Interpretation Material

Students researched and wrote introduction texts and thematic panels for the exhibition including individual work labels for each selected object. They focused on three specific areas of the RWA’s exhibition history highlighting International Modernism, The Annual Exhibition and Landscape and Regionalism.

Copies of the texts produced for each individual section can be downloaded here:

Severn Beach Paul Methuen

Introduction Panel

Caribbean Grey Day, Alethea Garstin

International Modernism

The Bathroom, Bernard Dunstan

The Annual Exhibition

Gwavas Lake, Michael Porter

Landscape and Regionalism

Edge of the Field, Michael Porter

List of Works

The students also produced an Exhibition Hand-out for the public listing further resources that can be accessed on the collection here.

The RWA would like to thank The University of Bristol for collaborating with them on this project, and in particular Dr. Dorothy Rowe, in addition to the participating MA students: Yui Araki, Aimilios Champis, Sun Young Kim, Lucy Paddy, Jill Sutherland, Nicola Williams, Ashley Wu and Yi Zhu for their research.

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