The Courtauld's MA Curating students present their annual exhibition, created in lockdown

11 June 2021

The Courtauld Institute of Art’s MA Curating the Art Museum students announce their annual exhibition, titled Both Sides of Here: Artistic Encounters at the Threshold. Organised by ten emerging curators from across the UK, Europe and the US, Both Sides of Here is a digital exhibition, accompanied by a public sculpture trail in and around London.

Created during lockdown, the exhibition features works across painting, drawing, print, sculpture, film and video from The Courtauld Gallery Collection and the Arts Council Collection.

The Courtauld is currently undertaking an ambitious transformation project to make its world-class artworks, research and teaching accessible to more people. The Courtauld’s permanent home in historic Somerset House is closed for a major programme of renovation. The Gallery is scheduled to reopen to the public in late 2021.

Both Sides of Here: Artistic Encounters at the Threshold explores the multiple ways in which people have turned to art to capture their experience of thresholds. A waiting room, a locked door, an open window, a closed gate, a portal to another dimension: a threshold is the in-between space at which one thing becomes another. It is an undefined and often transformative realm of possibility and change. Both Sides of Here will explore real and conceptual thresholds by looking at artworks that capture the richness of human experiences, exploring themes of gender, sexuality, architecture, the body and states of consciousness, while also addressing the threshold in terms of access, privilege and social mobility.

Drawing from The Courtauld Gallery Collection and the Arts Council Collection (ACC), Both Sides of Here presents works by 31 artists, including well-known artworks such as Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882), Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Adam and Eve (1526) and Francis Bacon’s Head VI (1949), presented with new and refreshing perspectives. These masterpieces are brought into dialogue with more contemporary pieces such as Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled (6 spaces) (1994), Alberta Whittle’s Between a Whisper and a Cry (2019) and Damien Hirst’s Relationships (1991), in a series of rich and revelatory configurations.


The exhibition will also include new acquisitions never-before-exhibited by the Arts Council Collection, such as Olivia Bax’s Grille (2020) and Shawanda Corbett’s It was just yesterday (2021).

Accompanied by video and audio elements – such as artist interviews and studio visits – and by an exhibition catalogue with newly commissioned essays, the artworks in Both Sides of Here take on new forms and meanings. In the digital exhibition space with five thematically curated groupings, the works will be visually in dialogue with one another in a network that – rather than simulating the space of a physical gallery – will explore the full potential of the digital realm as an alternative space.

Both Sides of Here also features a series of sculptural encounters across the city for the public to enjoy outdoors, critically reinterpreting a series of existing public sculptures in London, including John Maine’s Arena (1983), located in front of the National Theatre. The trail will be signposted with QR codes that will refer the audience back to the main digital exhibition, generating a porous threshold between the physical and the digital in an imaginative creative response to the new realities – as well as opportunities - of exhibition-making in the era of Covid-19.


The Arts Council Collection : The Courtauld's MA Curating students present their annual exhibition, created in lockdown

Alongside the digital exhibition and public sculpture trail, Both Sides of Here will also include an exciting programme of events, which include a zine launch, film screenings series, panel discussion and an open-air, live performance event. 

Beth Hughes, Curator at Arts Council Collection states: “Given the past year this show will inevitably read through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic as boundaries and thresholds have become a tangible element to our everyday lives. We have all become hyper aware of how near others are to us, the constantly changing restrictions on where we are permitted to go and the ramifications of disobedience both for our own health and for collective spirit as we fight this contagion.



The students have mined the two collections bringing together works which have, most likely, never been shown alongside each other before. With just over 8,000 works, the Art Council Collection brings together a multitude of voices which speak to the diversity of British art and through the lens of this exhibition, the students have again opened my eyes to the power of art to understand the world around us, giving us the time and space to digest what of late has been a rapidly changing world.


See the digital exhibition from 16 June - 16 July 2021 here:


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.