Category Archives: Exhibition Studio Workshop Archive

Rethinking curating in a time of change

A conversation with MA Curating and Collections students
Jiaying Gao, Celina Loh, and Hao Long

curating in a crisis

MA Curating and Collections student Cara Salmon installing the recent MACC exhibition ‘Ballets Russes: Concealed Histories’. Image © David Dibosa

A few weeks ago, the students from MA Curating and Collections were due to open their interim exhibition, ‘Ballets Russes: Concealed Histories’ in the Triangle Space at Chelsea College of Arts. As the Covid-19 emergency escalated, they had to adjust their original plan to a new format and a new space, delivering an exhibition display instead in the Exhibition Studio Workshop. The College closed shortly thereafter so the exhibition was never opened to the public (although you can read about and see more of it here).

We spoke to MA Curating and Collections students Jiaying Gao, Celina Loh, and Hao Long about their original plans for the show, and about their thoughts on their future as students and curators emerging into what will be a profoundly changed art world.


Could you talk about the process of researching for and curating the Ballets Russes show how it was supposed to be, and what changed with the new display? Were there aspects you focused on initially, that you managed to highlight in the final display as well?

CL: Our interim show titled Ballets Russes: Concealed Histories intended to focus on the dance troupe’s textile pieces, showcasing myriad details from the costume designs to the wear and tear that are usually hidden in conventional textile displays.

On the morning the textiles were scheduled to arrive, we received the news that we couldn’t display them because the safety of the collection items, on loan from the Archive and Special Collection Centre at London College of Communication, could not be guaranteed in the circumstance of a lockdown – so we had to make a quick decision and turn the show into an exhibition display. We utilised the photographs of all the materials we had thus far, to present a show that could be virtually viewed via online platforms.


Inspecting the Ballets Russes collection at LCC with Jacqueline Winston Silk. Image © Carolina Pelletier Fontes

JG: We wanted to exhibit the different textures, details, and flow of the costumes, to show the imperfections in the outfits that indicate a certain history behind the garment, the dancer’s body, and behind the influential ballet company. The project would examine how these costumes, and even the most minute of their details, offer a historical and contemporary reconsideration of the ballet troupe in terms of its design, choreography, and music.

CL: This mainly derived from our research on spectrality within theatre performances, which focuses on the absence and presence of performers and narratives. One of the curators, Dana Chan, thought it was pertinent to highlight this aspect, with the Covid-19 emergency that consequently closed most public spaces:

As with the body and dress, movement, and stillness, we note the certain absences and presences within this space. However, in the current situation of a public health crisis, we are reminded of the collective endeavour that is art.

HL: That tension between absence and presence was our focus throughout our curating process, the ‘absence of body’/ ‘absence of stage’ was the lens through which we looked at these costumes. When the costumes are presented and viewed separately, on the one hand, there is always an absence, they are like a container. On the other hand, they are probably one of the few things that are still alive of the stage of those times, the remnants of the memory. Our research also focused on orientalism, modernism, and transculturation manifested in the practice of the Ballets Russes, which can be read in the various elements that constitute the important components of ballet – choreography, music, props, and of course costumes.

What do you think, as students and emerging curators, the repercussions of this situation will be on the arts sector, and on art practitioners and curators? What do you think will change and shift (if at all!) and what do you see as the biggest challenges, and opportunities, for curators?

CL: I think the impact of Covid-19 on the arts sector is conflicting. On one hand, live events and performances had to be cancelled on top of cultural institutions being forced to close. The termination of art fairs and exhibition opportunities have a heavy impact on the economy whilst hindering emerging practitioners who strive to make a name in the art scene. On the other hand, however, the crisis has shown how art as a culture is more relevant than ever, uniting people across the globe. With millions worldwide confined at home, curators, artists and other art producers are cooperating in multitudes of ways online, to persevere with showcasing work and forming alternative approaches to curating, among other things. Personally, it has presented me with an opportunity to view and adapt my curatorial practice, which I wouldn’t have done if not for the pandemic. It has vastly altered how the convoluted art world functions, which perhaps isn’t too bad of a thing after all.

HL: I have always felt that contemporary art is about to reach a turning point, or it has been a trend for a long time, closely related to the online world or to some level of technology that has gradually become the norm of life. The current health crisis is a catalyst, and unsurprisingly, we see art fairs and mega art institutions develop online exhibitions. The rapidity with which they reacted also suggests that they were ready before this crisis happened.

Quite a few of these online shows are predictable, and if they want to perfect them, galleries will probably have to work with companies that really have the technology for it, but how this will reshape art institutions is unpredictable. Instead, think it is time for digital art or net art to embrace this moment. Online exhibitions are likely to become more like games, in which the audience will act as the player. This is already a big topic, and it is both an opportunity and a challenge. Curators have the opportunity to step out of an institutionalized curatorial context and also face the challenge of the trap of consumerism. I would not be surprised if I saw a TikTok-like exhibition.

When an art institution in New York launches an online show that is equally accessible to local and global audiences, other changes and discussions are bound to take place. The constant emphasis on ‘presence’ in the art world is going to be challenged, and how it is defined when it is not in a physical space, how that definition will be reinvented. Of course, everything depends on how long this outbreak lasts. However, art will continue to happen, people will just focus on where and how it happens.

JG: For artists, this situation allows for a platform transformation from offline to online, which means that artistic works will be digitized and widely circulated on the internet. I think it is also an opportunity to see more artworks in digital forms, which provides new challenges for their creation and archiving.

As for the curators, I think they will further promote an immersive remote collaborative design platform, and other industrial applications: online virtual gallery, online virtual exhibition, online panoramic exhibition. It would be desirable to keep the physical business activities and online business activities in parallel, but in any case, the Internet and online trading has been a challenge for the traditional art market for a while and more so now. I think we can take advantage of this period of pause to maintain and update the facilities in the gallery. In the future, the exhibition will have online communication with the organisers, curators, constructors, and transporters through this platform, to timely solve various problems and improve work efficiency.


Archive and Special Collections curator Jacqueline Winston Silk showing Ballets Russes material. Image © Celina Loh

What has been on your mind lately, and is there a thought, a text or artwork that has inspired you and that you think you will carry with you in your future practice?

CL: Lately, Jurgen Habermas’ ‘Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere’ has been running through my mind a lot and has profoundly stimulated my thoughts. As a curator, I have always been interested in improving viewers’ engagement thus the study of publics is crucial in my curatorial practice. Habermas has mentioned the prospect of a universally accessible public sphere if there exists a universalisation of interest, leading to a public that unites on the same level to critically engage with one another. Although it may be naive, I can’t help but feel like this health crisis is contributing to the formation of a universally accessible public sphere, should it succeed or fail. And if it were to succeed one day, what is the function of art in that condition?

JG: I have been interested in the potential of the digital platform and its broad market, and the many galleries setting up online exhibitions beyond space, distance and transportation. The combination of digital and art that will become a new trend in the future, made me want to research how to create exhibitions on the internet, how to use the digital form to fulfil the curator’s ambition to interpreting an exhibition well.

HL: I wasn’t there when China was the epicentre, and what I observed about the art world in the UK at the moment is that I feel there is a greater sense of isolation and loneliness among artists here. One could think that, in the face of such a major crisis, the arts are useless – however, it is not meaningless for artists, curators or any art practitioners to be witnesses of this situation. Different regions may really need to establish an effective dialogue through self-description and a willingness to understand the description of others, and that is what art can do. Also, there were some things in the past weeks that resonated with my research; the spontaneous group singing of the Italian people on their balconies, or Britons applauding the NHS etc. This kind of collective behaviour, which is closely related to sensibility/empathy/politics, is signalled by sound and is something I have been very interested in. Finally, I have been coming to terms with the fact that this is a marathon, a time when mental health is as important as physical health. But we are all much stronger than we thought and most importantly, in a bigger sense, we are never alone.


Through The Looking Glass: A Dialogue between Dan Graham and Larry Bell

Through The Looking Glass: A Dialogue between Dan Graham and Larry Bell installation view. Image © Conor Smyth

Planning Studio, Chelsea College of Arts, January 2020.
Curated by Carolina Fontes, Conor Smyth, Jiachuan Wang, Yi Wang, Zhe Wu, Han Yan, Shu Zhang and Jiashu Zou – MA Curating & Collections 2019/20

Through The Looking Glass: A Dialogue between Dan Graham and Larry Bell is a speculative exhibition proposal on show in the MA Curating and Collection departments Planning Studio, a planning space for displaying research located on the first floor of Block D at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL. This project is in response to the Planning Studio project brief which was to work on a speculative proposal for an exhibition at an existing museum or gallery. The work should include gathering data about the proposed gallery such as floor plans, remit of the gallery, history of their shows, visitor statistics etc.

With these details in mind, the group of curators chose to present an exhibition of works by Dan Graham and Larry Bell at the Hauser and Wirth Gallery in Somerset. The group exhibition will explore the influences of and creative difference between the two prolific American artist Larry Bell and Dan Graham. Bell and Graham are connected through an interest in the materials which they use and the influence that both artists had on one another’s work. In the first exhibition looking at the similarities and differences between these two hugely successful artists the curators look to highlight the impact of each artists work on the other’s practices while exploring the divergence in their interpretations. The exhibition features small scale models as well as larger works by both artists with the collection of work presented throughout the gallery spaces and in the gardens surrounding the gallery.

The following is an excerpt from our proposal:

The Planning Studio presents the show Through The Looking Glass, establishing a dialogue between the two contemporary American artists Dan Graham and Larry Bell, focusing on both indoor and outdoor three-dimensional works. This show will take place at Hauser & Wirth’s gallery space in Somerset.

The exhibition presents a selection of the two artists glass sculptural works. Larry Bell and Dan Graham focus on exploring light with the use of glass, angles and perception, showing the boundary between reality and illusion.

Dan Graham’s work is halfway between sculpture and architecture, producing hybrids that are on the edge of both practices. Space and light are linked in the process of observing art, which is highlighted in his works. Graham uses steel to express phenomenon, reducing ‘art to an essence in pure realism’. His use of mirrors, glasses and two-way mirrors makes the materiality of these materials uncertain. The transparency of glass is not only a false representation of reality, but also a disguise of contradiction, which deconstructs surveillance but also creates an illusion.

Larry Bell’s works are mainly about experimenting with surface and light, with the purpose of expressing feelings. His work adopts a philosophical stance, ‘examining people’s existence in the world, a kind of primal intuition’. Glass can transmit, reflect, and absorb light, and by occupying his pieces light becomes part of the subject. His use of 90-degree right angles also has a visual influence. The environment moves with the sculpture as the viewer moves around the work. Not only in reflection, but in that place between reflection, transmission and perception. The gradient light affecting aspects of the pieces are a metaphor for reality. His use of glass is the intuitive decision to create illusion, which always relates to the question: what is real and what is not?

We believe Hauser & Wirth’s Somerset gallery space is a perfect location for this project due to its facilities, which suit our need to present outdoor artworks, but also due to its idyllic location, distant from urban hustle, which attributes to this exhibition a privileged feature of exclusivity. Since the works of Dan Graham and Larry Bellemphasisethe relationship among people, space and nature, we believe this is the ideal space to encourage reflection and interaction with these artworks.

Through The Looking Glass: A Dialogue between Dan Graham and Larry Bell installation view. Image © Conor Smyth

Reading Room for ‘Dress Portrait’: an interview with Sarah Edwards

As part of their Reading Room project alongside the Chelsea Space exhibition ‘Dress Portrait: Molly Goddard and Sarah Edwards’, MA Curating and Collections students Yihuan Chen, Beining Liang and Zeyu Zhao interviewed photographer and set designer Sarah Edwards, who shared her insight on the show, her practice and collaborating with her daughter Molly Goddard.

Dress Portrait 1

Sarah Edwards in the gallery. Photograph by Zeyu Zhao

Q: Hi Sarah, thank you for agreeing to this interview! Could you explain your thoughts behind the idea for this exhibition in Chelsea Space? Was there anything that was part of your original plan, but changed in the end?

A: Well, the idea was really to take photographs of fashion, but looking at fashion in a different way. I think that is an important part of what I do. I try to capture how I want the garments to feel, how they relate to my surroundings, and how they have a connection with nature, landscape and other elements. If there was anything that changed in the final display? No, not really. I had a very clear idea of how I wanted it to look, and I wanted to portray the clothes in a way that was my own personal view of them, looking at them as if they were objects, to show the real beauty about the construction of fabrics.

Q: You are also a set designer. How does working on set design compare to preparing an exhibition?

A: With set design, I have a very clear vision of how I want certain things to appear, and I try to stay away from the very obvious. It’s about making people interested in what they see, and seeing things from a different angle. For example, if I did a dinner table, I would probably put some elements there that are unexpected. So, for this show, I did not want to just hang twenty framed pictures on one wall; I like the fact that when you come up, the first thing you see, that green wall with the quite traditional hanging, looks very different than the rest of the exhibition. I wanted there to be quite lot to see within the small space, that’s why the pasted photographs, and the small frames at the end.

Q: Do you think you were inspired by this space?

A: Yes, every space inspires me. Every space is a challenge, I like thinking what’s the best one can do within a given space. And that is why I had the wall built, I did not want it to be just one room, I wanted there to be a flow, and for people go towards the end of the room, turn around and see these pictures which are quite hidden.

Dress Portrait 2

Installation view of ‘Dress Portrait’. Photo by Zeyu Zhao.

Q: When and why did you start working as a photographer?

A: I started taking photographs when I was 11 years old, and I took it very seriously then. In those days, I used film which was expensive, so I was very careful about what I photographed, and I took a lot of time to set up the composition. I think as a photographer, you look at things very much as photographs, in your whole life you almost look at everything as if you were looking through the camera – and that can be quite exhausting in many ways! I am always composing things, be it picking faces, framing landscapes, anything. Seeing everything as photographs is really wonderful, because that means wherever you are, you are being inspired.

Q: Who have you been inspired by? Do you have a favourite photographer?

A: I would say all photographers, past and present, have had an impact on my own practice. Fashion photography really inspires me. I do not really have a favourite, however. With many photographers, I like a lot of what they do, and I might not like some of their work. But I would say Henri Cartier-Bresson has been a huge inspiration.

Q: We noticed that in your photographs for this exhibition, you focus on details, and your use of light and shadow is very strong.

A: Well, my photography is about composition as much as light to shadow. I am fascinated by light changes, I love when the light is unusual. Like on a sunny day, when the sky is black; I remember being about ten years old, living in the countryside and seeing a sky like that, a black sky on a sunny day, and wanting to capture that. Unusual light really inspires me.

Dress Portrait 3

Installation view of ‘Dress Portrait’ with photograps by Sarah Edwards. Photo by Zeyu Zhao.

Q: So, do you prefer black and white photography because of its stronger contrast?

A: I don’t like dark any more than colour, and I can print my photographs either in black and white or in colour, and I don’t really have a preference. Although when you look at my colour photographs in this exhibition, they look very desaturated, quite like black and white photographs.

Dress Portrait 4

Installation view of ‘Dress Portrait’ with photographs by Sarah Edwards. Photo by Zeyu Zhao.

Q: When did you start photographing Molly’s dresses or using her materials in your photographs?

A: From the first day she started. Alice, my other daughter, is a stylist. I have been photographing them since they were born, so when when Molly started creating her collections, I just kept on recording her life.

Q: Wow, that’s amazing! Why do you choose to photograph her work, rather than other kinds of artistic practice?

A: Well, you know, I take photographs all the time, so this an element of my work, part of the work I do. But I’m interested in doing portraits, or fashion, or nature. I photograph her work, not because it is hers, but because it inspires me and I find it very beautiful. I like the challenge of photographing it in a way that moves away from fashion photography.

Q: How is it to work with your daughter? Do you work together every day?

A: No, we don’t work together every day, we work separately. The advantages I think are that we are inspired by similar things, and I think we both admire each other’s work. You know, we get along very well, we laugh for a lot of things, we just don’t take it too seriously. There are no difficulties, it all happens very naturally and quite organically.

Q: When working with Molly, how do you draw inspiration from each other? As you said, you love similar things.

A: I think we are similar in the way we research, not just fashion, but also related subjects; Molly also does a lot of research, and there are lots of different things that can inspire her for her collections. I really encourage people to look at everything. When you go to an exhibition, look up an artist you don’t know about, study the architecture of the space, notice everything. I think this is important particularly when being a student, you really need to read a lot, and look at different photographers. Molly and I send images to each other occasionally, she knows what I will like and I know what she will like. And that’s just fun, I do that with friends as well.

Dress Portrait 5

Installation view of ‘Dress Portrait’ with photograph by Sarah Edwards. Photo by Zeyu Zhao.

Q: And what are your future plans for the collaboration with Molly?

A: Right now there are lots of things coming up, a lot of things to do! So we will carry on working on more projects together.

Q: Where do you see your practice going forward? Will you focus on either photography or set design or continue with both?

A: I think I want to spend more time on my photography, and I possibly would like to publish something, photographic books perhaps. I will carry on working on set design as well, but allow more time to do photography.

Q: So, would you want to exhibit again?

A: Yes, I’d love to do another exhibition.

Q: Looking forward to it. Hope it will be in London, and we can visit it. Is there anything about this exhibition that you would change or add, or something that didn’t reach your expectations?

A: I am going to say something funny – if I could change anything, I would have liked to have a big comfort carpet on the floor! When working around a budget you can’t always get everything, but in such a minimal modern space, it would be unexpected, you know? And it’s about the whole experience, seeing the show while walking on a fake luxury pink carpet, it would have been lovely.

Yihuan Chen, Beining Liang and Zeyu Zhao

deconstructing my crush

The Morgue, Chelsea College of Arts

6 – 10 July, 2018

8__banchi's perfomance 'involucro' and object ii, video projection, flavia banchi (2018)_perfomer_clara lasàgna

Banchi’s perfomance ‘Involucro’ and Object II, Video Projection, Flavia Banchi (2018) performer Clara Lasàgna.

deconstructing my crush is a co-generated exhibition by the artist Flavia Banchi and the curator Laura Callegaro, which takes Banchi’s artistic practice as a departure point. Banchi’s research reflects on the idea of fetishism in nowadays society: by investigating the objects’ arbitrariness of value in different contexts, religions and ages, her practice arrives also to question the status of idols and cult objects in correlation to their perception within the current visual culture.

The videos projected on the Morgue’s walls interrogate a shape which does not identify itself with any existing object, though connotated by a visually palpable materiality. This object attempts to evade the known value system and challenges its discernible configurations, which are, as a consequence, ours. In response to Banchi’s moving image, the exhibition includes sound, complementarily conceived by Tommaso Di Filippo, who performs on 6th of July during the exhibition opening.

Ackowledging Banchi’s work, the communication designer Max Effantin considers the idea of blank shape as a site on which subjectivities are projected: enacting and translating this concept into environmental terms, Effantin’s main aim is to explore shift at the border between our inner spaces and the built world. Therefore, as an integral learning programme of the exhibition, the sensory workshop Rewilding the Urban Body took place on 16th of June at the Nomadic Garden (Shoreditch), led by the Sentient Society. Afterwards, a video centred on documentation via digital poetry has been realised by Effantin – and included in the show – in light of the workshop’s discussions and outcomes, focusing on the urban body’s sensory experience as a method to re-evaluate our daily ordinary approaches within our surroundings.

Within the framework of this exhibition, both the workshop and the sound act as an open extension of the critical understanding of values and agency that we give to objects, which is in turn the main focus of Flavia Banchi’s inquiry. Through these different practices and mediums horizontally explored and conjuncted,deconstructing my crush is intended as a collaborative research project, enquiring a reflection on de-constructing our current attitudes and their values unavoidably attached as a result of transient, historical and sociological layers of conditions.

Tuesday 10th July, 6pm
Flavia Banchi’s performance Involucro (Wrapping) will take place at the Morgue.

Special thanks to Donald Smith, Director of the CHELSEA space, for all his support.


Flavia Bianchi (1993, Rome, IT) is a London based artist. After graduating in Communication and Design at ISIA, Florence (2016), she decided to continue her approach in more artistic terms rather than projectual, enrolling into a post-graduate course in Visual Arts and Fashion at IUAV (Venice). She just completed a photography course at Camberwell College of Arts (UAL).

Max Effantin (1995, Valence, FR) MA Graphic Design Communication, Chelsea College of Arts.

Santo Milo (1986, Montería, CO) Event Designer.
The Sentient Society (founded by Effantin) is an environmental design project which aims to participate in the transition towards a more sustainable and sensitive culture; for this workshop, a collaboration with Milo Santo took place. Sentient Society intervenes in local communities to engage stakeholders with new ecological orientations, responding actively to local environmental and social needs.

Tommaso Di Filippo (1990, Florence, IT) is an Italian-born and East London-based house and techno producer. Under this alias you will find lo-fi nostalgic vibes and organic dance floor workouts.

Laura Callegaro (1994, Venice, IT) is a MA Curating & Collections student at Chelsea College of Arts. She is doing an internship as assistant curator at Flat Time House (London) and has worked as artist’s assistant at the Israeli Pavilion during the 57th Venice Biennale.


From the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre

Curated by MA Curating & Collections

Private View: Tuesday 12 March, 5.30-8pm
Exhibition: Monday
12 March – Friday 16 March, 11am – 5pm 2018

Cookhouse, Chelsea College of Arts, 16 John Islip Street London, SW1P 4JU

Jocelyn Herbert , Lindsay Anderson& David Storey

Jocelyn Herbert, Lindsay Anderson and David Storey. Photograph © John Haynes

This exhibition provides insights into the professional and personal relationship between renowned theatre designer, Jocelyn Herbert (1917-2003), and writer and artist David Storey (1933-2017). The show is curated by MA Curating and Collections at Chelsea College of Arts and is the fourth in a series of collaborations with the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre.

Jocelyn Herbert designed sets and costumes for seven David Storey plays: Home (1970) at The Royal Court Theatre; The Changing Room (1971) at The Royal Court Theatre; Cromwell (1973) at The Royal Court Theatre; Life Class (1974) at The Royal Court Theatre: Early Days (1980) at Brighton Theatre Royal and The Cottesloe at the National Theatre; The March on Russia (1989) at the Lyttelton Theatre at The National Theatre; Stages (1992) at the Cottesloe Theatre at The National Theatre. This exhibition focusses on material relating to five plays: Home, The Changing Room, Early Days, The March on Russia and Stages.

The exhibition is composed of four main themes: set design; costume design; Jocelyn Herbert’s aesthetic approach and work ethic and correspondence from friends and admirers. The show includes a wide range of materials loaned from the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre including photographs, sketches, drawings, models, notebooks, diaries and postcards. The curators have also collaborated with the British Library to include edited oral history audio recordings from the National Life Stories archive, enabling the audience to hear extracts from Richard Eyre’s 2010 Jocelyn Herbert Lecture, and Cathy Courtney’s interviews with Jocelyn Herbert and David Storey, and experience the designer and writer in their own words.

To view the Workbook published by the MA Curating and Collections students to coincide with this exhibition, please click here .


The curators would like to thank Cathy Courtney and Eileen Hogan for introducing us to the National Theatre Archive, and for supporting this curatorial project. Erin Lee, Anastasios Tzitzikos and Malcolm Mathieson from the National Theatre Archive for your kind assistance in making the exhibition and publication a success. Dave Govier, Charlie Morgan and Mary Stewart from the Oral History/National Life Stories at the British Library. Photographs have been reproduced with the kind permission of John Haynes. All photographs remain in © of John Haynes. We would like to kindly thank the Estate of David Storey and the Estate of Jocelyn Herbert. Lastly, to Donald Smith and Cherie Silver for your guidance in curating the exhibition.


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JOCELYN HERBERT: Design for Film

 Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre:

Design for Film

Curated by MA Curating & Collections

Private View: Tuesday 14 March 2017, 6-8.30pm
Exhibition: Monday 
13 March – Friday 17 March 2017, 11am – 5pm 

Cookhouse Gallery, Chelsea College of Arts, 16 John Islip Street London, SW1P 4JU


Jocelyn Herbert, polaroid and text from journal (1968) related to the production of ‘The Whales of August’. From the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre JH/3/101.

For the third year, the Exhibition Studio Workshop collaborates with the National Theatre Archive to highlight the seminal work of Jocelyn Herbert (1917 – 2003) who was among the most important and innovative theatre designers in the UK since the 1960s.

This year, the exhibition focuses on Jocelyn Herbert’s design for film. Reflecting on her working processes, personal and professional experience, the following films are represented: Tony Richardson’s ‘Ned Kelly’ (1970) and ‘Hotel New Hampshire’ (1983); Karel Reisz ‘Isadora’ (1968); Lindsay Anderson’s ‘O’Lucky Man!’ (1973) and ‘The Whales of August’ (1987); and, Tony Harrison’s ‘Prometheus’ (1988).

Categorised as pre-production, production and post-production, the exhibition will showcase photographs, sketches, drawings, costumes, diaries and correspondence from the Jocelyn Herbert Archive at the National Theatre, from the time when these films were made.


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The Morgue – 04 / 06 July 2017

Private View – 1730 / 1930 – 04 July 2017

Exhibition & Autopsy conducted by




Layered Spaces is a project coming from a shared interest regarding the concept of space and especially the history and atmosphere that a certain place lived and still lives in its years and times. As MA students at Chelsea College of Arts, we were interested in the discovery of the space’s layers of where the College is now existing. Therefore, with this exhibition we aim to investigate the history of the area and how the buildings changed their functions according to the context.

How could a thin layer of white paint completely change the use of something ?

The featuring of George Perec’s Species of Space (1974) represents the genesis of the spacial concept that Layered Space investigates. In his text, the author invites us to a journey through different dimensions illustrating how many layers and forms space could inhabit.

Where you are now, was once the Royal Army Medical College’s Morgue; the place where autopsy and studies of the bodies’ anatomies were developed and researched. The post mortem instruments set is here to recall the past medical function and yet to metaphorically represent the autopsical process the exhibition is illustrating.

The approach of dissecting the different layers and the evaluation of now present hidden or evident materiality of the building leads to a chronological and narrative journey of the history of Chelsea College original environments through the concept of space: from the present (Chelsea College of Arts) moving towards (Royal Army Medical College) to the very beginning of the places’s history: the Milbank Penitentiary.

Thus the visitor, once arrived in the Morgue, is invited to place himself as an atomist and to deeply investigate the layers of the space which shows the environments’ successions and changes.

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Brief History

For most of the 19th Century the river frontage to Millbank was dominated by the huge bulk of the Millbank Penitentiary (1816-1890), the first national prison. When it opened in June 1816, the Millbank Penitentiary was the largest prison in Britain.

Forged from Scottish Collalo stone, the penitentiary was set out in a hexagonal architecture encompassing six-petal shaped wings with a chapel in the centre. This particular typology is called Panopticon and it is a reference to Panoptes who is a giant with hundred eyes and known to be an effective watchman. The Millbank Penitentiary closed in 1890 and the lengthy demolition process commenced two years later.

Millbank Penitentiary (1816-1890) original area is the group formed by the now Tate Britain (1897), the Royal Army Medical College (1907-1999), the Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital (1905-1970’s) and the Millbank Estate (1897- 1902).

The now Tate Britain opened in 1897 as National Gallery of British Art and the remaining vacant land became home to a housing estate, the Chelsea College of Art and Design and the former Royal Army Medical School. Today, the angled street layout surrounding Tate Britain gives an idea of where the Millbank Penitentiary once stood. The Millbank Estate, in the western part of the former penitentiary site, was one of the fist large council housing estate for the working classes, and accommodated 4500 people. It is, by reason of its date and design, an important milestone in the development of local authority housing and the evolution of ‘Arts and Crafts’ principles of architecture as applied to large-scale housing projects.

In 1986, Royal Army Medical College became what today is Chelsea College of Arts.

Curators would like to thank Colonel Frank Davis, Chairman of Friends of Millbank for his help on this curatorial project. We would like to thank Rob Macintosh, curator of Museum of Military Medicine in Aldershot for the loan of the artefact.

Thanks to City of Westminster Archive Centre and Allies & Morrison Studio for the documents and maps.

Thanks to Donald Smith, director of CHELSEA space for his support and the equipment during the installation.

Artists’ Lives & Chelsea College of Arts: an audio exhibition

Curated by Yuen Yu Ho, Georgia Keeling, Deborah Lim and Xiaodeng Zhou

29 June to 28 July 2017

In a special collaboration between National Life Stories and Chelsea College of Arts, four MA Curating and Collections students curated an exhibition featuring edited sound clips from the Artists’ Lives collection of recordings. The exhibition is divided into three zones, and this blogpost presents an outline of each section. This exhibition has been generously supported by the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation.

Image 1_Fourth Floor Studio

The first section contains interviews with former students and teachers at Chelsea, who provide an introduction to the history of the school. Jock McFadyen describes the architecture of the Manresa Road campus and the different art movements represented in the studios, such as Pop Art and Systems Art. David Nash and Flavia Irwin address the curriculum and learning experience, including lecture series with artists such as Claes Oldenburg, classes in the Life Room and the Fine Art programme schedule. Anthony Fry talks about teaching painting in art schools, and Bernard Meadows highlights Henry Moore’s tenure at Chelsea and his working process of creating sculptures. Finally, Barbara Steveni introduces a paper she wrote during her teaching stint at Chelsea, which led to the development of the Artist Placement Group with John Latham – addressing where artists would go once they graduated from art school. Photos showing images of the exteriors and interiors of the building, such as the studio departments and galleries, are presented in this section as well.

Image 2_Chelsea School of Art

In the second section, the friendship between John Hoyland and Patrick Caulfield is explored in the form of two interviews. Hoyland’s recording begins with a reading of the address that he gave at Caulfield’s funeral, and goes on to honour in greater detail his friend’s life and work. This is a composite clip edited together from the recording of John Hoyland (1934-2011) interviewed by Mel Gooding, 2005-2007, National Life Stories: Artists’ Lives, C466/205 © British Library Board. You can listen to the full tracks at British Library Sounds: Tape 4 side B/track 8Tape 6 side B/track 12Tape 11 side A/track 20Tape 11 side B/track 21.

Caulfield in his interview discusses his first encounter with Hoyland, as well as his own teaching experiences. This is a composite clip edited together from the recording of Patrick Caulfield (1936-2005) interviewed by Andrew Lambirth, 1996-1998, National Life Stories: Artists’ Lives, C466/64 © British Library Board. You can listen to the full tracks at British Library Sounds: Part 6Part 12Part 13Part 14. Both recordings also provide reflections on Chelsea at the time they were both teaching.

Finally, the last section features five excerpts from an interview with Clive Phillpot, exploring his eight-year tenure as librarian at Chelsea and his acquisitions of Artists’ Books. These recordings also reference his colleagues such as Frederick Brill, Anthony Hill, Norbert Lynton and Edward Wright who inspired and supported Clive Phillpot to produce critical reviews in magazines and exhibition catalogues. Phillpot’s influence on the development of artists’ books is reflected in two recordings by Jock McFadyen, a former student of Chelsea, and artist Telfer Stokes. Accompanying the recordings is a vitrine containing Telfer Stokes’ first book, ‘Passage’, published in 1972. Clive Phillpot wrote a review of the book in a monthly column of Studio International magazine in 1973. A series of black and white photographs documenting individuals in Chelsea, taken by Dick Hart in the early ‘70s, is also presented.

Image 3_'Passage'

Material from the exhibition comes from: the Artists’ Lives section of National Life Stories courtesy of the British Library, the Special Collections section of the Chelsea College of Arts Library courtesy of Gustavo Grandal Montero, and archival images courtesy of Donald Smith.

Special thanks to Cathy Courtney, Mary Stewart, Gustavo Grandal Montero, Donald Smith, Cherie Silver for their assistance in making this exhibition possible. This exhibition is generously supported by the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation.

The curators would like to thank the late Patrick Caulfield, the late Anthony Fry, the late John Hoyland, the late Flavia Irwin, Jock McFadyen, the late Bernard Meadows, David Nash, Clive Phillpot, Barbara Steveni and Telfer Stokes for sharing their experiences through the Artists’ Lives project. Listen online to these recordings at British Library Sounds.

The exhibition runs from 29 June to 28 July 2017, and is installed at Chelsea Landing, E-Block (first floor), Chelsea College of Arts, 16 John Islip Street, Westminster, London SW1P 4JU. It is curated by Yuen Yu Ho, Georgia Keeling, Deborah Lim and Xiaodeng Zhou.

Sean Mullan | Blaupause

Private View: 18 August 2017 6 – 9 pm

Exhibition continues: 18 – 22 August 2017

Site-specific installation curated by Nadine Cordial.

Sean Mullan Side Room (14 von 18)

In Blaupause the German-Irish artist Sean Mullan explores the immeasurable zone in which an old state passes into a new. When experimenting with light, Mullan came across the photographic technology of Cyanotopie in which a chemical reaction with UV light causes the creation of Prussian Blue – a cool, greenish-blue mineral colour pigment also called Berlin Blue, whose story bears a lot of mystery. Coincidentally discovered in 1704 and widely used throughout history across various disciplines, it did not only become an important artists’ pigment in the 18th century, it also serves as an antidote to eliminate radioactivity or as a marker in pathology to diagnose defect heart cells.

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Side Room

Project space, currently residing at Chelsea College of Art
16 John Islip Street
SW1P 4JU London

Gallery Directors: Ilana Blumberg  and Mark Lungley

Corridors of Power #1

A Brief History of Broken Cricket Bats

Curated by: Ryan Blakeley, Feini Chen, ZiZhen Cheng, Gaia Giacomelli, Shu Chang Liu, Ksenia Stepanova, Xinjiang Zhuang.

Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 15.57.18

The curators with Syd Shelton (credit: Donald Smith)

Corridors of Power #1, the first in a series of exhibitions by curators on the MA Curating and Collections course at Chelsea College of Arts, displays multiple works from the Chelsea Space collection. It highlights the gallery’s ongoing relationship with and focus on popular culture and punk rock. The works displayed are from many different generations of exhibitions that Chelsea Space has created throughout its 11 year history, including its most recent exhibition on the photography of Sheila Rock – Sheila Rock: From Punk To The English Sea. The exhibited exhibition posters by Hatch Show Print, Frank Sidebottom, Mark Titchner and Mick Jones (also photographed by Syd Shelton with The Clash band member Paul Simonon on the second floor) highlight the diversity of the 66 exhibitions that Chelsea Space has produced so far.

This show was conceived in reference to the exhibition space’s unique history that resonates with the anti-establishment values that punk rock perpetuated. Once the Commandant’s headquarters, these corridors and the offices within them were re- appropriated as the offices for Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Geoffrey Howe. It was in the now Pro Vice Chancellor’s office that Howe wrote his famous resignation speech about ‘playing with broken bats’ that would eventually lead to the end of Margaret Thatcher’s eleven year term in office.

The exhibition revolves around Howe’s statement as a fitting metaphor for the inadequate social structures that gave birth to the rebellion that punk was. This is perhaps most poignantly exhibited in Syd Shelton’s two Jubilee photographs. The two works juxtapose the celebratory nature of the Queen’s Jubilee with the anxious social reality of Great Britain at that time. The pairing of the 1977 and 2012 works brings focus to the question of how much has changed in the interim. Time and change are themes that punctuate this exhibition, and they are characteristic of punk’s evaluating, questioning nature. In Sheila Rock’s recent photograph of the punk muse Jordan (commissioned for Chelsea Space’s 66th exhibition), where the model wears an image of her younger self printed on her t-shirt, Rock brings these reflective themes to the foreground.

When the buildings of Chelsea College of Arts were home to Millbank Penitentiary they were the staging point from which prisoners were sent to Australia. Syd Shelton’s Redfern, therefore, holds a special relevance to its surroundings and their role within the context of British colonialism. The work also reflects the feelings of despondent isolationism felt amongst the marginalised within British society. These play a key role in understanding punk aspirations. It is a theme that Barney Bubbles’ work Frogs, Sprouts, Clogs and Krauts playfully meditates on within the context of Britain’s intercontinental relationships. The multiple cross references between Gilbert & George’s Hope Fear Life and Peter Blake’s work referencing their quotation of Flannagan and Allen’s song Underneath The Arches, which is about homeless men who would sleep underneath railway arches during the great depression, also respond to aspirations of the isolated and outcast.

A Brief History of Broken Cricket Bats pays tribute to the enduring relevance of punk rock values in popular culture and maintains that these are still valuable agents for contemporary political debate.

The curatorial team would like to thank Donald Smith for providing art objects from his personal collection and Mike Iveson for his support during the installation.

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