Kimberley Cunningham is a third year BA Culture, Criticism and Curation student interested in changing the public perception of arts patronage and breaking down the definition of what it actually means to be a ‘curator’. Kimberley talks about the highs and lows of working with 60 curators on a public exhibition and working with a range of artists including Luke Turner and Shia LaBeouf. Exploring the ideas of meta-modernism, Kimberley and her colleagues have curated an exhibition and panel discussion drawing on their own interpretations of the subject. Watch out for updates when we talk to Kimberley again nearer to the start of the show.
How has your work developed since we last spoke?
Kimberley: A lot has happened! We finalised our branding, got our press releases out and our publication online. We’ve also started more conversations with our artists. We’ve started a podcast series on our website where we have been interviewing the artists and talking about their work.
All of our artworks are now in the space; one piece arrived in a massive crate from Paris only yesterday. It feels like Christmas opening everything up. Today we will be placing all the works and playing around to see where thing should go. The next step is tomorrow everything will be properly installed, by the end of the day our show will be pretty much complete.
How has it been organising all the logistical aspects of your show?
Kimberley: For the most part it has been okay, all our transport was donated which was amazing because the wall that we had to build took up the majority of our budget! The budget has definitely encouraged us to be very resourceful and really creative and we have got to know more and more people around the building because of it. We’ve had to ask for a lot of favours and everyone we have been working with has been absolutely amazing.
How are you feeling about the exhibition now that the show is so close?
Kimberley: We are on the finishing line and I feel like we are very much on track. Our event sold out in three days, which was incredible! It is really exciting to see how this has all developed. We’ve had a lot of bumps and bruises along the way but now we are at the fun stage of the project.
Have you enjoyed working on this project?
Kimberley: It’s been brilliant. I’ve really felt a part of art school and I have experienced a real sense of community within it. It has also been a massive learning curve. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and exactly what I want to do but I’ve also learnt a lot about my tutors and the other students that I’ve been working with. It’s been a really exciting process. I think that because you start at the beginning of the year it continuously picks up momentum and you become so invested. I keep saying to people that I feel like this is my child.
Do you have any recommendations for people visiting Show Two?
Kimberley: Material Futures looks beautiful, I’ve enjoyed watching the progression of their exhibition. The Product Design students also have some really brilliant work. It looks like a really strong show this year. There is a lot going on in London at the minute, there are loads of brilliant summer shows from other colleges and institutions.
Tell us about your project and what inspired your brief.
Kimberley: Our project is slightly different to the other courses. All sixty of the curators within our programme work on a group project for which we are given an open brief. After playing with a lot of different ideas, we decided to focus our exhibition on the ideas of meta-modernism. Every time we suggested a new proposal it kept coming back to the idea of harking back to the past and also looking towards the future, it’s an exhibition for ‘nostalgic-futurists’. We have really tried to take a personal stance on the subject, drawing upon our relationship with technology and looking at how we are trying to find old techniques within the field of modern technology.
What about your processes behind the build-up to the Degree Show?
Kimberley: We started off with a very ‘blue sky’ way of thinking where we just put all our ideas onto the table. We split off into three groups: events, publication and the exhibition team. Since then, we’ve presented our exhibition proposals to fellow students, tutors and external tutors. We’ve had to go back to the drawing board a lot to really refine our ideas. It’s also been a process of finding artists and work that we like and reflect the themes within our exhibition. We’ve focused on 13 artists including Luke Turner’s ‘Annunciations’ and Tully Arnot’s ‘The Lonely Sculpture’.
What have been the main challenges during this project?
Kimberley: I think the collaborative process has been very exciting but also challenging. Focusing was a big challenge for us as a group. You want to go off and run with all the brilliant ideas that you come across. Keeping it really simple and direct has been challenging.
How are you currently preparing for the show?
Kimberley: The last few weeks have been the real crunch point; we have confirmed all of our artists. We are now looking at the space itself, trying to work out how we will display the works. We’ll be focusing on all the other technical things we need including branding and working on the copy that we will be using within the exhibition itself. Another big part of the show that we are currently working on is a panel discussion that will take place during the show. We are all really excited about this as we have the two main theorists behind meta-modernism joining us, and Shia LaBeouf will be Skyping in.
What is the general feeling within your programme towards the Degree Show right now?
Kimberley: I think at this moment in time we are feeling really positive. It is a bit overwhelming now we can really see everything coming together. We have got to a place where we can start to enjoy the process. Although in two weeks time we will probably be terrified again.
How does the Degree Show differ from others you’ve worked on?
Kimberley: It is the first realisation of a project, everything we have done up until now has been hypothetical. It has really made me realise that exhibition curation is something that I genuinely enjoy and that I want to pursue. We’ve got to meet with so many interesting people and work with really cool artists. It has been an amazing learning curve.
What aspect of the show are you most looking forward to?
Kimberley: I am really looking forward to finding out what other people think to our exhibition. I want to see the reactions to the idea we are proposing. I want to hear people’s opinions and see how they interpret our show. I think different generations will respond to it differently.
What are your post-Degree Show plans?
Kimberley: I am working on a couple of different projects. I’m curating another show with the Curation Society and I have also been working on the London Project, another project within the course. After I graduate I am hoping to work for a corporate or private art collection. I really want to start cultivating and bringing in young talent and sourcing young talent myself, particularly from within contemporary African art.