School of Art concourse transformed by the School of Art Collective

SoA Collective exhibition viewing

Students from the School of Art, known as the SoA Collective, have been transforming the concourse at the School of Art by curating exhibitions based on the School’s annual theme, ‘Borders, Thresholds and Collective Identity’.

Birmingham School of Art

Birmingham City University

The SoA Collective consists of a mixture of final-year BA (Hons) Fine Art and BA (Hons) Art and Design students; Leanne O’Connor, Tony McClure, Vince Stokes, Amber Prescott, Lauren Godwin, Sydney Marston, Aileen Doherty, George Caswell and Mitchell Wallaard.  Together, they have been selecting, curating and installing each exhibition, taking it in turns to work in each role involved in the process i.e. curator, publicist, exhibition assistant and hosting a private view.

Not only has the project been making use of the previously disused concourse, but it has also been a platform to showcase the work selected by the curators. The pieces and installations displayed are also selected from work created by BA (Hons) Fine Art and BA (Hons) Art and Design students across all year groups.

Before the most recent exhibition, Roma Piotrowska, Exhibitions Manager from Ikon Gallery, came in and spoke to students about the theme and aspects of selection, curation and installation, as well as her own experience as a manager and independent curator. The talk was opened up to students across both courses and all years and was an excellent opportunity for them to hear about what makes a good exhibition and for the SoA Collective in particular, how to approach the concourse exhibition.

Taking her ideas on board the most recent exhibition, ‘Becoming//Unlike’ (pictured) by BA Fine Art students Tony McClure, Vincent Stokes and Leanne O’Connor, focused on breaking down borders and changing the function of the space to transform it into a central meeting point for people entering the school. The addition of beanbags and visual projections enabled people to come together and talk, rather than simply pass each other by whilst walking through the concourse. 

The project is part of the ‘Practice and Professional Presentation’ module, which is designed to help students prepare for their final shows. It has also been integral in preparing those involved for employment after university by developing essential skills such as time and project management, as each exhibition has a turnaround time of two weeks and a further two weeks for viewing.

BA (Hons) Fine Art students Amber Prescott and Lauren Godwin co-curated the first show: ‘Delineated Space’. The exhibition was an exploration of artworks exploring the potential of the line, and also how the physical space of a gallery could be altered to change the way people viewed and experienced the area. Speaking about her experience Amber said:

Lauren also added that taking on a co-curator role enhanced her problem-solving abilities and communication skills: 

The next exhibition will be taking place in April, before the final exhibition in May. Follow the School of Art's blog to keep up-to-date with the latest news. 

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