Career Discovery at Southbank Centre - 'I don't get it'

3 August 2017

This week we handed over the blog reins to some of the students who took part in a Career Discovery workshop with us here at Southbank Centre.


Will, Mary-Kate, Tirian, Claire, Molly and Katherine developed an imagined exhibition  for people who may not typically visit galleries.


The group considered all of the elements of producing a successful show from curation and venue to advertising and accessibility...


Curating an Exhibit

The Arts Council Collection : Career Discovery at Southbank Centre - 'I don't get it'

Having spent some time discussing the different pieces, and noticing which were the most obscure and intriguing, we considered the accessibility of art and whether we ‘get it’. We decided to curate an exhibition called ‘I Don’t Get It’.

We started by eliminating more traditional, classic pieces such as landscapes that did not match our theme of absurdity. Then we looked at which were the most obscure, and Jesse Wine’s I Don’t Normally SMS Women (2012) stood out, simply because we had lots of different ideas about what the sculpture resembled and there was an almost unanimous decision that we did not get it. The name of the piece was also very intriguing.

Our target demographic is people who do not usually visit galleries, and we aim to draw them in through the title of our exhibition, since it is so self-explanatory and simple. We would like to locate the exhibition in a place not typically associated with art, such as on a train, to escape the stigma that art is inaccessible and has an inherent grandeur.

We discussed the issues surrounding making our exhibition offensive, either to the artists or to the audience. We don’t want to patronise our visitors orand presume asuggest that lack of cultural understanding, and we simultaneously do not want to suggest to artists that their work is pointless or impenetrable. We want to pose questions about exhibitions and galleries themselves, to demonstrate that it is their intimidating, quiet aura that makes art feel overly profound and prestigious. It’s not the ‘fault’ of the art.



The Arts Council Collection : Career Discovery at Southbank Centre - 'I don't get it'

Since there are countless practicalities about putting art on a train, we thought about locating our main exhibition in a more stable location but placing images of the most intriguing pieces in a public zone, like a train, to attract people to that exhibition. We discussed possibly using a pop up gallery, which we could locate in a park. Following our theme of accessibility, we would launch the exhibition with a public event in a train station or other public place. On press night, we would hire artists to speak about their work and inaccessibility within art, and charge press to attend the event.

David Batchelor’s Festdella (2006) requires low energy lights and a festoon cable, which would need to be installed into our pop up gallery. Laura Ford’s Giraffe (1998) is a large piece, so we would need to ensure the space used for the gallery can fit this item.

As a further method of advertising, we would like to have large images of some of the artworks around the city, where people can write what they believe the piece represents. At the end of the exhibition, we will sell these. We could ask visitors to pay into their favourite piece, as a further method to raise money. The exhibition could also be toured, to reiterate our message that art is available to everyone.


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.