We’ve been chatting to Elliott Burns and Pita Arreola, curator and assistant curator of Origins Creative Arts Festival 2019 to gather some Top Tips for applications. Check out Elliott's thoughts below!
This year will be my third time curating UAL Awarding Body’s Origins Creative Arts Festival, which requires the enviable, yet momentous, task of reviewing in the region of five-hundred applications and narrowing that down to a final selection.
During the application period between 13 May and 14 June, Pita and I will read the applications, watch every film and listen to the audio files submitted. We will begin to categorise the applications in order to understand what thematic interests are prevalent this year and start to build a mental image of the exhibition aesthetics. From these themes we will then select works which best represent the entire body of submissions; around these the exhibition will be curated. We will work to respond to the needs of both individual works and wider collections by designing display mechanisms and planning ways of dividing up the space.
Curating a festival of this scale is an exciting job, but one which requires high levels of information and understanding of the applications which are submitted. For the benefit of the curators, the tutors and the artists, we have put together a list of ten tips for applications which we hope will be helpful during this process:
1. High quality photos
Submitting high resolution images of the artwork is incredibly helpful in terms of understanding the application. However, ‘quality’ doesn’t just mean resolution! The first image needs to be clear so that the curator is not left trying to figure out what the artwork is. A second image can focus in on a detail, the texture of a painting, surface of a sculpture or fabric of a dress. If you’re submitting a series, then make sure to show a group shot. Consider the images as a set which moves the viewer from a general to a specific understanding of the work.
In the description of the application, provide information about both the idea/concept behind the work, and the technique used to create it. Applications often focus on one or the other; mention both and if possible, explain why an idea has been expressed using a particular medium. Try to explain the work in just one paragraph. Hundreds of applications will be submitted so it’s important that they are concise.
3. File formatting
When attaching files to the application please ensure you use one of the following file types: JPEG, MP4, PDF, PPT. This will allow the curators to make considerations regarding how the artwork is presented.
Be accurate about the dimensions, and if the work is particularly weighty/cumbersome then please let us know. We don’t mind heavy sculptures, we just need to plan ahead when dealing with them.
On the topic of weight and dimensions, if the artwork won’t fit in a car or van maybe consider submitting something else! Equally if it’s unlikely to make it from A to B in one piece, it may not be the most suitable application.
6. Film submissions
If the submission is a film piece and it is especially long please do consider how you could present an edited version. The curators will watch the full work but if it runs over 15 minutes it may not hold the public’s attention at the festival.
7. Games submissions
If the submission is a video game, please send a video play-through and screenshots as part of your application. The curators will try to open your game on their computer but it is not guaranteed that they will have the correct software.
If the submission is an installation, please be aware that we may not have the opportunity to accurately re-stage this at the festival. Please show the constituent parts of the work in the application so that the curators can consider how this might work at the Truman Brewery.
9. Fashion and Costume Design
If the submission is a garment, it would be helpful to provide photographs of it being worn.
And finally, and very importantly, please:
10. Double check everything!
Double check your details throughout the application before it is submitted. The curators often spend time updating entries because the initial submission is not 100% correct. It won’t stop the work being selected, but it definitely helps if everything is accurate and does not contain spelling errors.
We hope this helps with the application process! A fundamental part of being an artist, designer or filmmaker is accurately conveying your work to an audience or client.
We look forward to receiving your applications!
Elliott Burns (Curator) & Pita Arreola (Assistant Curator)
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