More than 400 people came to the launch of the new spring exhibitions at Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange in Penzance.
At Newlyn Art Gallery it was to see Go On Being So, featuring works from the Arts Council Collection and curated by the MBA Collective, a group of 14 art, photography and graphics students from Mounts Bay Academy aged between 12 and 16 years.
It is the first time that school pupils have curated a gallery exhibition from the Arts Council Collection in its 74-year history.
Jill Constantine, Director of Arts Council Collection said:
“Go On Being So is the first time that pupils at a school have curated an entire exhibition and I’m really impressed with the results. Such projects are truly exciting as they bring new voices to our collections and exhibitions. I would like to congratulate the MBA Collective: Billy, Elsa, Ethan, Evie, Flo, Izzy, Josie, Katie, Kit, Lilly, Matt, Morgan, Rose and Tallulah, and teacher, Claire Dale.”
Go On Being So is also the first in a new strand of programming for the gallery.
“All the data shows that in spite of art organisations’ best intentions, those shaping the exhibitions and learning programmes galleries present fail to reflect the diversity of the UK population. We’d like to change that. We plan to deliver a programme curated by people never before given this opportunity, offering them a platform to share their perspectives in new ways, and making the Arts Council Collection, the ‘people’s collection’,” said James Green, Director of Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange.
The pupils were on hand throughout the evening to talk to visitors about the works and why they chose them.
“We chose works that said something about big issues for us personally, but are also universal to people of our age, such as mental health and equality,” they explained. They were joined by one of the artists featured, Rock Dickinson, whose work Egg Bag the group chose as their lead image.
At The Exchange, Hippo Campus: Where We Learn, a group exhibition featuring works from the Arts Council Collection that explores alternative schooling, peer-to-peer learning and self-education continues the focus on learning and education.
As well as works by more than 20 artists, the exhibition has small forum areas, with books, tablets and pin boards, which expand on themes within the show, and invite contributions from visitors. The Gallery hopes that launch of Hippo Campus will be the start of a conversation with, and between, visitors to share their own knowledge and skills. A programme of talks, workshops, social groups and alternative curriculums for all ages will run throughout the exhibition.
“We’d like to bring people together, with regular social events such as Lunchtime School and Bad Art Class, to try out new things, and learn subjects they possibly didn’t think they even wanted to know,” said Blair Todd, Programme Curator.
Go On Being So and Hippo Campus: Where We Learn include works drawn from the Arts Council Collection of more than 8,000 works of British art in a range of media. The majority of these were acquired from young and emerging UK-based artist over the past 70 years.
Both exhibitions are now open. Go On Being So is at Newlyn Art Gallery until 30 May and Hippo campus: Where We Learn is at The Exchange until 6 June.
Find out more about the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme