The Emerging Voices bursary supports museum volunteers or emerging professionals to undertake training, research or placement opportunities that enhance their skills and bring new benefits to their host museum.
Becki Brattin and Katie Bunnell decided to apply for the bursary following their experience as Citizen Curators at Falmouth Art Gallery. They have been awarded the bursary to continue developing their project, “Gut Reaction” which focuses on audience responses to the Margaret Whitford Bequest, a collection of 48 contemporary prints and a sculpture acquired by the gallery through the Artfund.
The collection is remarkably vibrant and graphically strong and while individual pieces have been on display, relatively little is known about the provenance of the collection as a whole. Through their research on Margaret as the source of these collected works, Becki and Katie have discovered there are another 25 pieces located in 8 museums and galleries in the UK.
For this post Becki and Katie have answered three key questions:
Why did you want to continue your “Gut Reaction” Citizen Curators project?
K: With the continuing support of Falmouth Art Gallery, the Emerging Voices Bursary will enable us to pursue research threads we have discovered through the Citizen Curators project, visit the other pieces in Margaret’s collection, find out what we can about their provenance and to chase stories as they emerge.
For us, the idea that it is possible to have a felt, physical reaction to an artwork is fundamental to enabling everyone to respond to art in their own way. From what we have read about Margaret we understand that this was her approach to choosing art and have used this as the basis for our “Gut Reaction” project. We would like to continue to develop this idea through the creation of the digital exhibit and for workshops that connect to it.
B: Our initial Citizen Curators project took quite a natural progression after learning more about Margaret once we spoke to some of her friends about the type of person she was within her professional and personal life. We are now faced with learning a whole lot more information about Margaret’s further collection which is spread around the UK. It seemed very obvious to try and bring an awareness of Margaret’s other pieces together, in this case through a digital experience – building a portrait of a female Cornish collector and celebrating the collection in its entirety.
What are your hopes and expectations for this project?
B: I’m hoping we can do the collection justice and bring about a beautiful digital exhibition with a very ambitious idea of perhaps, bringing some or all pieces together for a physical exhibition (one day!) Also, I will be keen to explore how we will be able to bring to the surface a little about who a female collector is? Is it important, and if so, how does this stance affect galleries today or previously?
We are expecting to document our journey within the project through the use of blogs, vlogs, Podcasts and Instagram. Hopefully building an informative and enjoyable journey for all to evaluate.
K: I think that the Emerging Voices Bursary opens the possibility of seeing Margaret’s dispersed collection, hopefully bringing it together as a digital exhibit that can be shared with many. Personally, I am really interested in trying to see it from her perspective, to understand a bit more about her motivations as a collector and how this relates to her work as a feminist philosopher, and one who started life in a Methodist community in Cornwall.
Why do you think it will be useful to Falmouth Art Gallery?
K: I think it is a great opportunity to try out new ways of creating a digital exhibit, using the story of the collector as a way in to seeing this dispersed collection as a whole. We would like to develop the digital exhibit as a tool that enables audiences to think about and respond to the artworks and the business of collecting from their own perspectives.
B: Falmouth Art Gallery is very fortunate to be the custodians of such a beautiful and vibrant set of prints from the Margaret Whitford Bequest; we like to think that our project will help to raise the profile of the bequest and give the community and beyond the chance to interact and access the collection as a whole, leaving a fantastic digital collection tool for all to explore alongside more extensive history files for Falmouth Art Gallery.
– Becki Brattin and Katie Bunnell
Falmouth Art Gallery