Engage at Tate Exchange: a taster menu

Last week, I participated in a three-day course organised by engage, the National Association for Gallery Education in the UK. For the first two days, we were hosted by Tate Exchange in the new Switch House building. We enjoyed a backdrop of stunning views over the Thames and across East London as we shared practice through talks, workshops, demonstrations and discussions. On the final day, we went on a tour of South London arts venues to see their exhibitions and hear about their learning programmes. We went to 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, South London & Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Foundation Trust, Peckham Platform and South London Gallery. I learnt a huge amount from my peers, spanning a diverse range of topics, and since then I’ve been happily following up on recommended reports and websites. For this post, I’ve compiled a taster menu of interesting reading collected over the three days; it falls into three broad categories: Reports (economic/education); Reports (museum and gallery learning); and Projects & Initiatives. Enjoy!

 

Reports (economic/education)

The Future of Jobs (World Economic Forum)

http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/

  • This report summarises the ‘direction of travel’ for work in different industries from 2015-2020. It takes a global perspective and highlights inequalities in employment for women. To get your attention, the home page sets a vaguely apocalyptic tone: ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution is interacting with other socio-economic and demographic factors to create a perfect storm of business model change in all industries, resulting in major disruptions to labour markets’. Despite this alarmist introduction, the bulk of the information is presented more calmly, using plenty of infographics that are easy to read at a glance and perfect for browsing.

http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/shareable-infographics/

  • The ‘shareable infographics’ section compares the top 10 skills required in 2015 and projected for 2020. It’s worth noting that all of them are key to museum education practice and reflect the benefits of arts education.
  • Top four skills in 2015: Complex Problem Solving, Coordinating with Others, People Management, and Critical Thinking.
  • Top four skills in 2020: Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Creativity, and People Management.

 

Creative Learning Plan (Education Scotland)

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/Pages/cre24_creativityinfographics.aspx

  • While schools in England are struggling with the lack of support for the arts in the national curriculum, it’s a different story in Scotland where creativity is promoted as an essential component of a balanced education. Education Scotland’s ‘3-18 Curriculum Impact Report on Creativity’  identifies four key creative skills – curiosity, open-mindedness, imagination and problem-solving. This report, as well as a selection of bright and engaging infographics on creativity, are available to download from the link above.
Shard from Tate Mar17
View of the Shard from the top of the Switch House

Reports (museum and gallery learning)

Creative Families (South London Gallery)

http://www.southlondongallery.org/page/creativefamilies

  • This intergenerational artist-led project worked with both parents (who are experiencing mental health difficulties) and their children. It aimed to explore the relationship between parenting and well-being, and was designed as an early-intervention programme in partnership between South London Gallery, Southwark’s Parental Mental Health Team and three local Children’s Centres: Grove, Crawford and Ann Bernadt.
  • The final report, Making It Together, is a thorough evaluative study of the project (download via link above). It goes into detail about the methodology and impacts, and places the work in a broader social context.

 

Step by Step: Arts Policy and Young People 1944-2014 (King’s College London)

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/cultural/culturalenquiries/youngpeople/Step-by-step.pdf

  • While I was noodling around looking for Making It Together, I found this report from a few years ago. It was commissioned to mark the 50th anniversary in 2015 of the first-ever UK government arts policy, authored by Jennie Lee. It pretty much does what it says on the tin, charting the history of post-war arts initiatives for young people in the UK over a 70-year period. This may sound a bit dry, but it’s fascinating to see how attitudes towards art education have shifted over time. The authors also make the point that new policy is often devised without an understanding of what has come before, resulting in the proverbial wheel being invented over and over again, a problem that I think we can relate to in museum and gallery education/learning.
St Pauls from Tate Mar17
View of St Paul’s Cathedral from the top of the Switch House

Projects and Initiatives

Youth Enterprise (198 Contemporary Arts and Learning)

http://www.198.org.uk/

  • 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, previously known as 198 Gallery, is located on Railton Road, which was the epicentre of the Brixton rising/riots in 1981. The gallery was founded in 1988 and has always taken an active interest in supporting young people and their creativity. Staunch supporters of new talent, 198 can take credit for giving five of the 12 artists showing at the Diaspora Pavilion (Venice Biennale 2017) their first exhibition. Exciting youth-led social enterprises have also been fostered by 198, and look set to expand as the organisation extends its links with business and the creative industries.

http://hustlebucks.bigcartel.com/

  • Formed in 2010, Hustlebucks is a youth design agency. They predominantly work in fashion design and have recently collaborated with band, The xx, on a range of t-shirts.

http://www.198.org.uk/creative-learning/arts-factory

  • The Factory is a new venture for 198. It will provide studio space for creative start-ups and social enterprises that will work with local young people, offering training, mentoring and employment.

http://afhboston.org/

  • The Factory was inspired in part by Artists For Humanity (AFH), an amazing Boston-based initiative set up in the 1990s. AFH grew out of frustration at the lack of art experiences available in the Boston Public School System, and their aim is, ‘to bridge economic, racial, and social divisions by providing under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design.’ They go on to say, ‘our mission is built on twin philosophies: engagement in the creative process is a powerful force for social change, and creative entrepreneurship is a productive and life-changing opportunity for young people and their communities.’

 

Generation Art: Young Artists on Tour (engage)

http://generationart.gallery/

  • A selection of 40 artworks by children and young people was selected for a national tour (2015-16) that went to Turner Contemporary, Margate, New Walk Museum and Gallery and Soft Touch Arts, Leicester, and Quay Arts, Isle of Wight. The project aimed to celebrate the creativity of young artists, raise the aspirations of adults about what young artists are capable of, and campaign for quality art, craft and design education. The attendance target – 90,000 – was smashed and an impressive 203,000 people saw the show, of which 42% were first time visitors to the host venues.

 

Cultural Education Challenge (A New Direction)

https://www.anewdirection.org.uk/what-we-do/cultural-education-challenge

  • A New Direction works to ensure that all children and young people get the most out of London’s creative and cultural offer. One of their current programmes, the London Cultural Education Challenge, runs from 2015-18 and aims to improve cultural provision for young audiences, as well as creating sustainable partnership models that can continue beyond the lifespan of the funding.
  • There are six overarching themes for the Cultural Education Challenge, each of which has been presented as a handy infographic identifying specific needs. For example, ‘Equity and Geography’ provides data on the division between cultural provision in central London, the large percentage of pupils in outer London, and the gulf between the two – 40% of 11-25 year olds in London have not been to an art exhibition or music event in the past year.

I wish I could include everything we talked about over those three days; my selection is only a small indication of what was discussed. If you’d like to see more, check out #engagejourneys on Twitter for more links, tips and photos.

Dunedin Public Art Gallery

After a lovely week in Wellington visiting one half of the family, I headed to the South Island to visit the other half in Dunedin. I haven’t lived in this part of New Zealand, but know it pretty well from visiting over the years. The city’s layout was designed in Britain in the 19th century and based on Edinburgh, so the street names are familiar – George, Hanover, Frederick, Castle – but they were slapped down without much regard for the existing terrain. As a result, you’ll find here some of the steepest streets in the world. In Dunedin, the road doesn’t just rising up to meet your feet, but your nose too. The advantage of all this uppage is plenty of fabulous views over the harbour and surrounding hills. It’s a bustling university town and has long held a strong reputation for its music scene. And, like all New Zealand cities now, it is also home to fantastic coffee.

There are a range of cultural offers available in Dunedin, including the Dunedin Chinese Garden, Toitu Otago Settlers’ Museum, and the Otago Museum (Dunedin is the main city in the Otago provincial district). In my limited time here, I focussed on Dunedin Public Art Gallery and met with Lynda Cullen, Visitor Programmes Coordinator, and Robyn Notman, Public Programmes and Collections Manager (who will soon be leaving the gallery for a role at the Hocken Collection). Lynda generously talked me through their programmes and gave me a tour of their learning spaces, including a practical making space, an auditorium, and a welcoming ‘Playspace’ gallery for families, located opposite the main entrance. But before I talk about the programme, I want to give a bit more context about the gallery and its history.

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Playspace, located on the ground floor of the gallery, facing the main entrance.

Dunedin Public Art Gallery (DPAG), founded in 1884, is the oldest gallery in New Zealand. By European standards this will sound relatively recent, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the founding document of New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi, was only signed a few decades earlier in 1840, and the city of Dunedin itself only dates back to 1848. When the gallery was founded, the population of Dunedin was a mere 24,000, so this was a major undertaking. The gallery grew out of the Otago Art Society, established in 1875, and it’s ambition, right from the outset, was to collect both European and New Zealand masterpieces.

Today, the collection holds about 8,000 objects across a range of disciplines, including painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, new media and design (ceramics, glass, furniture, textiles and costume). In the 1930s, The UK’s National Art Collection Fund (NACF, now known as The Art Fund) – set up to secure national art treasures for public collections – acquired artworks for galleries in the Dominion (ie. part of the British Commonwealth). Consequently, there are some amazing works by British artists in the DPAG collection, including: Professor William Richardson (c.1780s) by Henry Raeburn; Spes [Hope] (1871) by Edward Burne-Jones; and First Portrait of Mrs Betty Joel (1928), by Jacob Epstein. The gallery also showcases work by New Zealand artist Frances Hodgkins, and holds an impressive collection of Japanese prints and netsuke, as well as European paintings and prints from the 14th century onwards.

The gallery has been at The Octagon, in the heart of the city centre, since 1996. The building was previously a department store; I don’t know how many of its original features remain, but the entrance is spectacular – a large, light-filled atrium gives a sense of the scale of building, and the surrounding mezzanine and balcony levels offer a range of viewpoints to enjoy the central spaces. The atrium also has a huge installation area, known as the ‘Big Wall’ for good reason. When I visited, the installation on display was by artist Tiffany Singh. The work is a screen of pastel-coloured ribbons, falling the full length of the wall; on each ribbon is written the Buddhist mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ (the title of the work) in gold lettering that shimmers as you walk past it. There can’t be many gallery walls in the country that are large enough to hold such a striking piece and the effect is stunning. Should you find yourself at the gallery on Sunday 2 April, you’ll be able to join a Buddhist Meditation class, programmed to complement Singh’s installation.

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Tiffany Singh’s installation, Om Mani Padme Hum, on the ‘Big Wall’.

Lynda’s public programmes are as varied and rich as the collections and exhibitions themselves. Her colleague, John Neumegen, is the LEOTC (Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom) artist educator who delivers all of the primary and secondary school tours and workshops. Judging by the immaculate arrangement of his materials and resources in the practical making workshop, he runs a pretty tight ship. Lynda does some work with formal education groups, giving tours to tertiary students and early years classes (as LEOTC doesn’t include funding for these audiences), and is otherwise responsible for the rest of the learning programme.

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The art studio, ready for a school workshop.

Lynda is well-networked and thinks laterally about her offer, which makes for fantastic interdisciplinary programming. I was surprised to discover how many city-wide festivals Dunedin has throughout the year – for example, Wild Dunedin (festival of nature), the Fringe Festival (performing arts), and iD Dunedin Fashion Week, to name a few – Lynda works with all of them, and hosts all sorts of related events at the gallery:

  • for Wild Dunedin in April, she has programmed an aviary curator from the Botanic Gardens and a gallery guide to co-deliver a tour of the collections, focussing on art and the environment;
  • for the Fringe Festival in March, the gallery is having an eclectic range of performances, including throat singing, jazz, Indian dance, and the creation of a ‘pulsing sonic soundscape designed for thinking and dancing’; and
  • an upcoming DPAG exhibition, When Dreams Turn to Gold: The Benson and Hedges and Smokefree Fashion Design Awards 1964-1998, is timed to correspond with Fashion Week, and related programming includes, ‘Be a Fashion Designer’ drop-in workshops for families, ‘In Conversations’ with designers, and fashion-related film screenings.

The University of Otago and Dunedin Teachers’ College run fellowship and residency schemes, offering further opportunities for collaboration and public programming with the gallery.  The Teachers’ College supports writers-in-residence and the University awards six-month Fellowships for several disciplines, including writing (Burns Fellowship), art (Frances Hodgkins Fellowship), music (Mozart Fellowship), and community dance (Caroline Plummer Fellowship). Lynda creates networking opportunities for the fellows and residents to get together, as well as public programming opportunities for them to share their work with a broader audience. For example, Caroline Sutton Clark is the current Caroline Plummer Community Dance Fellow, and she will be running a Butoh dance workshop and then performing solo as part of the International Day of Dance in April. Lynda did her MA in Visual Culture and Gender at the University of Otago, and has sustained great links with the local academic community. Where possible, she programmes talks and events that respond to new thinking and trends coming out of the world of academia and research.

I have highlighted examples from Lynda’s programme that champion partnership working and interdisciplinary practice, which are both areas of particular interest to me. However, I don’t want to give the impression that her programme only runs in parallel to, and doesn’t intersect with, the collections and exhibitions. She offers a huge range of inspiring talks and workshops by guest curators and exhibiting artists, directly engaging with the artworks. The variety of the DPAG public programme is what makes it so interesting, and it’s even more impressive when you consider it is the work of a one-woman learning department!

Te Papa & the Lean Canvas Model

Te Papa Tongarewa is the national museum and gallery of New Zealand; the literal translation of its Maori name is ‘container of treasures’. When I was a kid, the national museum and gallery was in a different part of Wellington, on a hillside in a 1930s building that looked out over the city. It was great fun to run around the older museum, and I have very fond memories of the ‘under the sea’ diorama, but I appreciate that for the adults who had to work there, by the 1980s it was no longer fit for purpose. It’s replacement, Te Papa, opened in 1998. It’s an enormous post-modern structure located on the Wellington waterfront, a much better spot for raising its profile and luring passing foot-traffic. The interior feels incredibly spacious with high ceilings and open foyers, showcasing the diverse collections and inspiring a sense of awe and wonder. The museum really lives up to its name and feels like a gigantic treasure box. When I was in town, I met with Miri Young, Te Papa’s Head of Learning Innovation, and a member of her team, Museum Educator, Laura Jones, and got a sneak peek at their new Learning Lab, Hinatore (trans: ‘phosphorescence or luminescence – a glow or glimmering in the dark’).

Miri has only been at Te Papa for 14 months – which is about 10 minutes in museum years – and yet within that time she has initiated and completed a total redevelopment of the Learning Lab. Previously, the room had a solid wooden door so activity couldn’t be viewed from the gallery spaces, and there was a display of handling objects behind glass. Miri was keen to create an active, hands-on, experimental space that was flexible (ie. plenty of modular furniture that can be reconfigured) and able to support a wide variety of digital programmes (ie. plenty of new whizzy kit). The entrance to the room is now a glass door and window, opening up the space to visitors in the main galleries, and a large, colourful commissioned illustration by Gwilym Devey brightens up the facing wall. The room has a long rectangular floorplan, with a large window on the shorter wall, looking out over the yacht club and harbour, and a glass partition at the other end of the room, separating a smaller area for ‘messy’ making (judging by the durable flooring) from the larger carpeted space.

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Hinatore: the modular furniture along the right-hand wall can be reconfigured.
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Hinatore: note the 3D printers on the right.

I’m afraid my knowledge of the latest digital toys is limited, but I spied four 3-D printers, two large ‘touch tables’ that reminded me of the ones used at Cooper-Hewitt in New York, and a couple of large flat screen monitors. Their website also reliably informs me that Hinatore provides a purpose-built virtual reality (VR) studio and “telepresence technology that connects learners in remote locations”. Sensibly, there are also staff members with a foot in both digital and learning camps who are able to wield all of this amazing new media potential. As well as promoting direct engagement with the collections and exhibitions through working with original objects, Te Papa has also made 60,000+ images freely available online, offering  a combination of works with no known copyright and those for use under the terms of the Creative Commons copyright licence. Having both the digital tools of Hinatore and the online resource of the collections at their disposal, the Learning team are well placed to support the development of 21st century core competencies (which they have identified as programming priorities): creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and curiosity.

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Hinatore: detail of the commissioned illustration by Gwilym Devey, depicting aspects of the collection (the natural world, technology, engineering, and Aotearoa New Zealand’s history). The large building with the three flags in front of it is Te Papa.

As well getting a tour of the Learning Lab, Miri also told me about their approach to programme development – an adaptation of the ‘Lean Canvas’ model, which was adapted in turn from the ‘Business Model Canvas’ to better support entrepreneurs and start-ups. Because I am a massive systems geek, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to find out about a new strategic planning tool, ideally one devised for a non-arts sector and then modified for museums. Miri explained that they use ‘Lean Canvas’ for all strands of programming to focus and clarify the aims of each offer and for setting clear targets. Because it was designed for business, the language is one of ‘customers/users’ and ‘products’, although I think there is a correlation with ‘audience’ and ‘programmes’. A strength of the model is that it puts the audience first – the aim is to identify the ‘problems’ (ie. needs) of the customer and keeps those front and centre when working out possible solutions. This reminds me of the design process, which advocates for the same thing – keep the end user at the forefront of your thinking to ensure the final product will achieve what you set out to do.

The Lean Canvas Model, as used by Te Papa, is a one-page table consisting of nine boxes:

  1. What is the problem? (ie. what is the audience need?)
  2. What customer segments are you solving the problem for? (an important step for clarifying and defining the target audience)
  3. What is your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)? (this question keeps the focus on audiences; the aim is to identify the marketing offer that would capture their attention)
  4. The solution (what top features or capabilities will address the problems?)
  5. Channels (how will you reach your audiences?)
  6. Neighbours (who are the key partners or people you’ll need help from?)
  7. Cost Structure (what resources will you need?)
  8. Value/Success Metrics (how is value created and what metrics will you use to measure that value?)
  9. Unfair Advantage (what is special or unique about this idea that will make it difficult for the competition to copy?)

Ash Maurya, who devised Lean Canvas in 2009, has written a useful blogpost on its creation that also clarifies some of the finer points around its use and terminology. If you want to find out more about this approach, there are plenty of examples of the Lean Canvas Model online (Canvanizer and Lean Stack both offer templates), as well as further adaptations, such as the Social Lean Canvas for social enterprises. I’m not proposing that Lean Canvas is taken on wholesale, as some adaptation is required to map to the specific context of devising learning programmes in museums, but I can see that there would be tangible benefits to such a systematic approach, especially by putting the audience needs at the centre of the process.

City Gallery Wellington

I’m back home in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ), visiting family and enjoying some much-needed sunshine. On previous trips I haven’t made contact with museum education peers, but having had such a positive experience of interviewing practitioners in the US, I felt this was too good an opportunity to miss. I moved to the UK 17 years ago and have never worked in the NZ cultural sector, so I can’t claim any homeground advantage. It’s been fascinating – and a bit strange – to be in a part of the world that is so deeply familiar to me, yet learning about a whole other museum and gallery education context. I lined up a few meetings before coming home and I’m looking forward to sharing my learning over my next few blog posts. First up, the City Gallery Wellington.

The City Gallery was established in 1980. It changed venue twice before taking root in the old public library on Civic Square in 1993. It doesn’t have a permanent collection so the focus is on a rolling, ambitious programme of temporary exhibitions. I can still vividly recall the Robert Mapplethorpe show I saw there in 1995/96 when I was an art history undergraduate. It was thrilling to brush up against the New York art world and see ‘the real thing’, not something you can take for granted when living in a far-flung corner of the Pacific. The City Gallery has always punched above its weight and has presented solo exhibitions by artists such as William Kentridge, Yayoi Kusama, Keith Haring, and Cerith Wyn Evans. This outward-facing interest in international practice is complemented by programming that looks closer to home, showcasing Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha (of European descent) talent.

It was pure luck that my visit to Wellington coincided with the City Gallery’s current show, Cindy Sherman (19 Nov 2016 – 19 Mar 2017), who I’ve admired since I was a teenager. The exhibition focuses on work made since 2000 and includes 52 large-format photographic prints, grouped by theme. The richly-saturate colour and crisply-defined imagery, achieved through the use of digital photography, give the eye so much to explore. It’s possible to examine every strand of hair, every artfully-applied shadow and every prosthetic addition that dramatically alter the artist’s appearance. Not surprisingly, the ‘Clowns’ room is the most creepy, but ‘Society Portraits’ are also pretty unnerving. The main exhibition is accompanied by a display of archive material from Sherman’s own collection of found albums; it includes “over 200 photographs taken by and for guests to Casa Susanna, a 1960s upstate New York retreat for cross-dressing men”. These images of stereotypical femininity, constructed through the use of bouffant wigs, glamorous ballgowns, heavy makeup, and playful poses, are in fantastic juxtaposition with Sherman’s own construction of female types.

 

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One of the large ground floor galleries, showing work from Sherman’s Clowns series

A show like Cindy Sherman is an absolute gift to gallery educators. The work is immediate enough to grab the most reluctant of gallery-goers, yet complex enough to hold those who want to go deeper and explore meaty topics such as identity, gender and feminism. I met with gallery educators, Claire Hopkins and Helen Lloyd – half of the Learning team at the City Gallery – to find out about their programming. Claire and Helen devise and deliver the primary and secondary schools’ offer at the gallery. Their posts and programme are funded by a Ministry of Education scheme called Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom (LEOTC).

This funding is awarded on a three-year cycle, and it supports a huge range of activity across the country, including sites such as museums, zoos, performing arts venues, science and outdoor centres, and historic parks. I was gob-smacked at this level of government support for the arts and it’s amazing that the scheme has weathered the post-2008 economic downturn. Such commitment to getting kids out of school and learning in alternative contexts is impressive. The emphasis of the funding is on broadening access, and attendance targets are an important measure of success. This isn’t the whole story however, and evidence of impact is also valued; every visit is evaluated by the teachers, and their feedback informs the reflective practice of refining and developing programmes. The schools’ offer is also tailored to meet specific learning outcomes for teachers. Interestingly, there is no funding for early years’ provision – hopefully something that can be amended in future planning cycles.

In New Zealand, every primary school selects a theme each term that will be used to scaffold all subject delivery. Claire and Helen clearly have a good relationship with many schools and work closely with teachers to structure their programming and tap into whatever themes schools are using. Cross-curricular programming, especially at primary school level, is common practice so there are opportunities to make connections between Art (as a subject) and English, Science or Maths. Claire and Helen also promote interdisciplinary programming and have worked with a dance educator to run dance/art workshops. Their teachers’ resources, known as ‘resource cards’ are available online. The print version is an attractive A3 exhibition poster on one side, with key exhibition notes on the reverse, including pre- and post-visit activities, information on the artist, terminology, and some headline concepts.

Claire and Helen have the use of an Education Studio, currently set-up for photography workshops responding to the Sherman exhibition. It’s a good-sized room with plenty of natural light. Claire explained that they place the emphasis of their practical workshops on process, critical thinking and ideas. When the kids are creating their own characters to photograph, they are encouraged to slow down and really think about what will make a successful image – the use of colour and layering textures in clothing, how the pose, expression, costume and makeup all have to come together, and how to generate psychological depth, and not just a funny face. Concepts and ideas drive contemporary art practice, so it stands to reason that the talks, tours and workshops that Claire and Helen programme are also looking to get under the surface of the work; one of the key learning intentions of their programmes is to stimulate and facilitate critical and creative thinking.

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City Gallery Education Studio

In addition to the education programme for schools, there is also a public programme for general audiences. I didn’t get the chance to meet Tracey and Meredith who run this offer, but the concept-driven, interdisciplinary ethos of the education programme appears to run across the whole organisation and shape the public programmes too. The current events brochure promotes a huge range of activities including: monthly ‘Lates’, evening openings that celebrate all my favourite things, “art, music, film, books, beer, wine, food”; a film series selected by Sherman and City Gallery curator Aaron Lister; a talks programme that explores topics such as celebrity culture, transgender rights, photography, costume, and mise-en-scene; and a panel series on contemporary feminism, with evocative titles such as ‘Feminism: The Morning After’ and ‘Ageing and Agency’. There are also monthly exhibition tours, titled ‘Gallery Babes’, for parents and carers who are welcome to bring their babies along too.

And finally – if that wasn’t enough! – there are some really wonderful interpretation offers also available. A large resource area, located outside the Education Studio and adjacent to the archive displays, has plenty of comfortable seating and tables for further study. There is a film of Sherman talking about her practice, a ‘magazine rack’ presenting copies of Harper’s Bazaar alongside the gallery’s print material about Sherman’s show, and an ‘art cart’ with free drawing materials. One of the large tables has a set of ring binders and cards; each card has a large thumbnail image from the exhibition and the invitation to ‘create a story with these characters, then add it to our collection to share’. I loved flicking through what others had written; it was so interesting to see how much humour and pathos Sherman’s work inspired.

 

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Resource Area (the archive display is through the two doorways on the right)

I also picked up a gorgeous piece of print (which I assumed was for me to take…) of a poem written by Hera Lindsay Bird, responding to her favourite work in the exhibition, ‘Untitled 404’. It was commissioned by the gallery and read at the opening. I felt this was a really generous act by the gallery, to want to give a poem to audiences to supplement their viewing of the exhibition. The whole place has a thoughtful and positive energy about it – open to a variety of artforms and ideas, and actively looking to provide many routes into the work. A capital city should have cultural offers of this calibre and it’s great to have something so wonderful in my home town.

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