Curator's Choice: A graveyard of huge forgotten sculptures at the Glasgow International

| 04 April 2014

Curator's Choice: Michelle Emery Barker on Reclaimed: The Secret Life of Sculpture at Glasgow's Wasps Studios

Click on the picture to launch the gallery


“We were talking and joked that elephants have graveyards, but we often don’t know what should happen to sculpture.

It’s often created for an exhibition which is temporary, but is very durable itself. It can also be quite large, so people don’t tend to buy sculpture so much and you can’t simply hang it on a wall.

A photo of a woman standing next to a large sculpture
Barker has co-curated the show with Martin Craig, of the city's Gallery of Modern Art, and Kate V Robertson© Dapple Photography
So what should be kept on display, what should be stored and what should be broken up, melted down and recycled?

When I became curator at Wasps it was an idea that I told them about and they were great. They are very open to creative ideas and projects and were very pleased about the idea of using the Briggait in this way.

It is a huge space in the main part of the building which is ideal for exhibitions, and this is the biggest and most ambitious we have tried there so far.

We approached lots of people for the exhibition – those who got it, really got it and became very enthusiastic.

The curator at Glasgow Museums was fantastic and her knowledge was incredible.

A lot of the individual artists we contacted were really enthusiastic about the idea – quite a few had pieces that they really like and have held onto and were very pleased to show again.

It was a bit more difficult convincing some of the private galleries that it’s not just the new that’s interesting and that old art can be just as exciting.

It’s a big space to fill, so that was very challenging. We wanted to create a sculptural landscape of some sort, but to be very respectful in the way we presented people’s art.

We also had to think about the budget. My co-curator, Kate, came up with the idea of using wooden pallets, which was inspired.

She came up with a parquet flooring design which is fantastic – it looks good, creates a landscape and really gets across the idea of works coming from storage.

Having the exhibition as part of Glasgow International has been really good. It’s something that Wasps wanted to be involved with and that a lot of the contributing artists were really pleased to be part of as well.

We had no idea what sort of public reaction to expect, but the first few days have been great – we’ve been really busy with people coming to see it.

There has been a lot of support and interest from Glasgow’s artistic community as well as the general public, so it’s got off to a really good start.

The exhibition has been fun to put together because we have been able to get in touch with artists, galleries, collectors and museums and let them pull all sorts of things out of storage for people to have a second look at.

We love it when there’s an exhibition full of new works of art, but this shows that rediscovery can be as exciting as novelty.”


What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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