Skip to main content

Origins Creatives 2023: Meet the Curator

Photography of Charlie Levine
  • Written byCharlie Levine
  • Published date 19 May 2023
Photography of Charlie Levine

As UAL Awarding Body's annual Origins Creatives exhibition approaches, we spoke to this year's curator, Charlie Levine, about her own creative background and what she is looking for when selecting pieces for Origins Creatives 2023.

Could you tell us about your creative background and how you got into curating?

I didn’t realise it at the time but I’d always been a curator. I had always organised things, whether my toys, to-do lists or my wardrobe. And when I did my photography degree I was looking specifically at how the context of how images are shown or displayed changes the audiences that encounter them and their subsequent interpretations of those images. Both of these things, when mixed together, create the foundation of a curatorial practice - unbeknownst to me.

It was my then tutor, David Campany, who suggested I look into curating, because of the latter, and that is where my exploration of curatorial methodologies began and has continued throughout my career as an independent curator.

I am interested in all things curatorial but I approach the practice through thinking about the frame of the project, another extension of my photography entry point, thinking about the edit through a ‘viewfinder’, the ‘crop’ that a curator makes to create a story. What works you bring into focus and those that help the story that sits on the peripheries.

I am also really interested in storytelling in my practice. Literally, by using famous fictions as a starting point to centre a project or exhibition around.  And also subtly, I do think of curators as narrators to a larger story, how we exhibit works helps us guide audiences through a story.

What will you be looking for when selecting student pieces for Origins Creatives?

There is so much innovation, experimentation, protest and design that is happening in arts and culture right now. I know the emerging generation of creatives have a lot to say and I want to focus on that. I want to amplify their voices, issues and aesthetic values through the curation / selection of works.

Coming out of the lockdowns and disrupted education patterns, these emerging creatives have had to contend with a lot. And I know they will all have something to say about themselves, their communities, cultures and wider societal issues. And I can’t wait to see and hear them! I am, therefore, looking for a clear message, personal reflections and experimental outputs. In a basic way I’m thinking punk for this post-covid generation.

I am looking for alternative ways to present and archive your creative practices, for example, rather than submit a single video for exhibition of a film, animation or performance, could you send in a prop for display and an online link via a QR to your video? Changing the way we ‘see’ certain art forms, and rethink what the valuable output of them is, is exciting.  Like with 2D work, is your sketchbook actually where the dynamism of your practice sits, rather than a ‘finished’ single piece? With sound works, do you have a postcard of where the piece was made? Could we display that?

Artistic practice no longer sits within formal frameworks (painting, sculpture, fashion etc) rather it bleeds between ideas and former historical constraints. I want to encourage out-of-the-box thinking, I want to encourage ‘the new.’

Why is it significant/important for young creatives to showcase their artwork at Origins Creatives 2023?

When I graduated our degree show was held at the Truman Brewery. It was my first London exhibition and it helped solidify the importance of my degree, my choices in following a creative career path and situated me amongst contemporaries and organisations that I respect and are shaping the art world.  And this is exactly what these young creatives should also expect.

This exhibition is an opportunity for their work to be considered (potentially for the first time) beyond an education setting, to be seen amongst arts and culture professionals and shape the zeitgeist for ‘what’s next’. These are the voices that will mould our understanding of the world through their creative interpretations and presentation of it.

This is a serious opportunity, one that I am so happy to be able to celebrate and be part of.

What can visitors expect to see at the live exhibition?

I am excited that the themes of this exhibition design is that of colour (specifically taken from the Origins Creatives logo) and a celebration of thinking of a new ‘white cube’ exhibition experience. I want to take audiences and artists on a journey into discovering a new way of looking at and being seen in the arts sector. I have been inspired here by exhibition design and styles familiar in the practice of artists such as Adam Nathaniel Furnman, Lakwena and Katrina Adams. And thinking of new ‘salon’ display methods seen at Rachel McLean’s exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 2019 and last year's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, specifically the yellow room curated and designed by Grayson Perry.

This exhibition is also an opportunity, a ‘step-up’ for all involved. It is a visual often used on International Women’s Day, the idea of helping raise each other up, and it is an idea that I am bringing into this project, with a series of stepped display visuals in the form of pyramid step up plinths, and layered walls of differing heights - to mimic steps. I want audiences to see this exhibition as the first step on these young creative careers, and be supporters, cheerleaders and positive impacts upon their upcoming journeys.