Here are some of the collaborative projects I’ve been involved in, working with musicians, artists, galleries and museums.
‘Living the Landscape: Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and the Artists of St Ives, 1939–75’
Museum Belvédère, Oranjewoud, Heerenveen, The Netherlands (2022)
For ‘Living the Landscape: Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and the Artists of St Ives, 1939–75’ – the first ever survey exhibition of St Ives modernism in a European museum – I worked as UK adviser with the independent Dutch curator Feico Hoekstra.
The 60 or so works we selected, by 21 artists, include well-known pieces such as Hepworth’s Sea Form – Porthmeor alongside many rarely seen works from private collections, by (among notable others) Patrick Heron, Sandra Blow, Peter Lanyon, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Roger Hilton, Terry Frost, Bryan Wynter, Margaret Mellis and Alfred Wallis.
The Museum Belvédère – a long, low-slung modernist box with a glazed central section, sitting astride a canal in a former royal park – is an extraordinary location. The Friesland landscape couldn’t be more different from Cornwall but has its own long tradition of creative coming & going.
The Barbara Hepworth Project
Royal Academy of Music and The Hepworth Wakefield (2019–20)
In 2018 I gave a seminar at the Royal Academy of Music. The discussion afterwards with staff and students led to a year-long project with six postgraduate composers. The wonderful new music they created in response to the work, writings and life of Barbara Hepworth was premièred by young musicians from the Academy in a day of live performances at The Hepworth Wakefield in March 2019.
In 2020, I worked again with the Royal Academy of Music. Responding to various themes in my book 100 Ideas that Changed Art, postgraduate composers created new pieces, which were premièred at a concert at RAM in February by the ensemble CHROMA and student instrumentalists.
The IKEA Museum
Älmhult, Sweden (2014–15)
During 2014–15 I worked with a design team from RAA on the exhibition script for the IKEA Museum in Älmhult, Sweden. I created a prototype script using the method developed by Swedish writer Margareta Ekarv. This results in display panels that look and read a bit like poems. The idea is that we absorb information better if we can ‘hear’ the words and speech rhythms. This project was then taken forward by IKEA’s in-house team. The museum opened in June 2016.
Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library
Abeokuta, Nigeria (2012)
The Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library is the first institution of its kind in Africa, housing an archive of Nigerian political history on a campus site in Abeokuta.
The museum section, on which I worked again with Ralph Appelbaum Associates, includes an exhibition about the life and times of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, whom I interviewed for the project, both in London and, during a memorable three days in Lagos and Abeokuta, in an armoured SUV surrounded by Kalashnikov-wielding outriders (we got through a ten-mile traffic jam in record time).
Redevelopment of Royal Albert Memorial Museum
Between 2008 and 2011 I worked with the curatorial team at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum on the script for a complete set of new displays. We developed the storylines that would bring together very diverse parts of this collection – geology, archaeology, natural history, social history, art.
Reopening after this five-year redevelopment project in 2011, RAMM won the 2012 Museum of the Year award.
The Eye Made Quiet: Poetic Landscapes
Belgrave St Ives (2009)
A collaborative exhibition conceived as a visual conversation on the theme of reverie. I contributed texts and photomontages, designed to work with Felicity Mara‘s paintings to open out the slow-time imaginative dimensions of the landscape idea. Better explained, perhaps, in a talk I gave at the Belgrave Gallery during the show (to listen, click here) or my short online essay ‘A note on reverie ‘.