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Group photo with Rosalind Davis at Collyer Bristow Gallery

Reporting back on the curator led tour of Exceptional at The Collyer Bristow Gallery

Written by Post-Grad Community
Published date 11 February 2020

Post-Grad Community Ambassador Claire Michel from MFA Fine course Art at Wimbledon College of Arts reports back on a visit she organised for other UAL postgrads to the Collyer Bristow Gallery.  Here the Gallery's permanent Curator Rosalind Davis gave them an exclusive tour of the Graduate Art Award exhibition 'Exceptional'.


The Collyer Bristow Gallery is a hidden gallery open to the public Monday to Friday (by appointment) within a law firm in Holborn.

Rosalind Davis gave us the curator-led tour of the exhibition. She is the author of the great book « What They Didn’t Teach You in Art School ». She is also an artist and curator. She was appointed the permanent curator of Collyer Bristow Gallery in 2016.

Rosalind met us with a warm welcome. Before starting the tour, she gave us an introduction about the Collyer Bristow Graduate Art Award show 'Exceptional'. This Art Award is open to submissions for any graduate students across London, within three years of graduation. It is a fantastic opportunity to get discovered after art school and to meet other emerging artists. There is also a £2,000 award for one of the exhibiting artists.

The panel, composed of Jordan Kaplan, Kristian Day and Rosalind Davis who selected 29 artists out of the 200 submissions that they received. The number of artists selected varies from year to year but ranges from around 30 to 50 artists.

We also had the opportunity to talk to Rosalind about what makes a great artist statement, which has to be sent alongside a unique photo of an artwork for this award. Rosalind advised us that the statement should highlight what our work is really about, and we should explain our choices clearly. It is important that there is some depth to it, but it mustn’t be overly academic.

Photos from the event

During our conversations about the Graduate Art Award with Collyer Bristow, we asked Rosalind how the panel choose the artworks. She said that it has to be a collective decision which comes about after conversation around each application - this is where the artist statement is so very important. She also stressed that because of space restrictions and the general layout of the gallery space, they are unable to accept too many sculptural pieces and sadly cannot accept sound or moving image works because the space would not be able to cater for them correctly.

“It was interesting to hear how much Rosalind’s curation of shows at the Collyer Bristow Gallery is influenced by the context of a law firm’s offices.  I was struck by the work of painters creating imagery at the junction of analogue and digital media.” - Hamish, MFA Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Arts

I felt really fortunate to be led in an intimate group through the show by the very generous curator/writer/author Rosalind Davis. I was very impressed with how Collyer Bristow champions up-and-coming artists with their Graduate Art Award". - Nicola, MFA Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Arts

The show was fantastic and there was a great variety of different media, such as ceramics, digital paintings as well as mixed-media installations. We enjoyed navigating in the main room, as well as in the meeting rooms, where some of the artworks are also on display. The themes also varied, starting from the labyrinth from Shining, moving on to identity through landscape and tea parties, amongst many other interesting and challenging subjects.

If you have the opportunity, it is highly recommend as a visit. The show runs until the 19 February 2020. Alternatively, Rosalind Davis is currently working on the next show entitled « Me Myself and I » which will run between 28 February and 10 June 2020. This show will tackle themes around identity, genders, and expression of the interior self.

The gallery is open Monday to Friday during office hours, by appointment. 4 Bedford Row, WC1R 4TF London.

If you would like to hear about next year’s open call, it is recommended that you subscribe to Rosalind’s mailing list directly through her website.

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