Tory Turk

Image of Tory on a ladder in archives.

Tory Turk is an independent exhibition curator, specialising in style and popular culture. Following the completion of a Media and Cultural Studies BA at Sussex, Tory did an MA in Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. In 2015, she co-curated The Jam: About The Young Idea at Somerset House.

How would you describe yourself as a professional?

An exhibition curator (specialising in Popular Culture and Style). I am reluctant to include ‘archivist’ in the description, as I have no qualifications in this field and am entirely self-taught in my understanding of and approach to the organisation and management of collections.

What do you do in a typical day?

I currently spend half my time at The Stock Room in Woolwich. Five years ago I archived the Hyman Archive - ‘The World’s largest personal magazine collection’ (Guinness certified 2012) – which then comprised of 53,000 magazines. The archive was then put into storage. A few months ago the archive came out of storage - during which time it had grown by 25% - and I have since been rebuilding the library, inputting new acquisitions, and getting it ready for its next stage. The Hyman Archive is part of a forthcoming mass digitisation project, which will make its rich content a fully searchable, and digitally accessible, resource. Other archive related projects include the management of Charlotte Tilbury and Sam McKnight’s Archives. I am also working on three exhibitions - two of which are scheduled for Autumn 2016. I am able to reveal my next exhibition, which will take place next February at The Korean Cultural Centre, and is part of the International Fashion Showcase.

What are some of the project highlights in your career so far?

I have really enjoyed how varied my exhibition experience has been. Being freelance has enabled me to work at, and for, a variety of venues and institutions, brands and clients, and has also given me the opportunity to cover a broad range of subject matter. I really enjoyed putting together the ‘Legends of the Martini’ exhibition at the Royal Academy, which was an entirely different experience to my most recent exhibition, ‘About The Young Idea’ at Somerset House.

How has the MA FC course helped in your professional practice?

The MA FC course really ignited a passion in me for exhibition work, I feel so lucky to love my job! I felt very fortunate to have had Amy de la Haye and Judith Clark as tutors. There is part of my curatorial practice that comes from a very deep thoughtful space. On the course I learnt to take contemplative considerations on subjects and objects and then how to transfer this to the exhibition environment - making the narrative come to life for the visitor. It sounds simple but the course taught me how to look.

Where do you see/how do you view the future of fashion curation?

I hope that the commercialisation of the fashion exhibition, and the increase in the popularity of the immersive and interactive experience, doesn’t mean the curators’ voice and direction is affected and lost to over-branding and theatrics. I say this as these are areas I am interested in, and therefore, I am mindful that they don’t spiral out of control and are served in the correct dosage and that the balance of the education and entertainment isn’t disrupted.