The Open Project

Midlands Arts Centre, 2013

A platform to explore democratic and collective approaches to exhibition curating.

A series of four exhibitions curated by young curators from mac birmingham’s Next Generation programme and an opportunity for artists across the West Midlands to exhibit and sell their art in mac birmingham’s prestigious first floor art gallery.

With an aim to support the professional development of emerging arts professionals, THE OPEN PROJECT presents the region’s artists with increased opportunities to be selected for exhibition. All eligible artworks submitted to the project are considered for each of the exhibitions in addition to a guaranteed place in the closing SALON exhibition.

THE OPEN PROJECT builds upon 2011’s ‘anticurate’ programme. It is a mac birmingham initiative, devised by artist Trevor Pitt in association with Juneau Projects and Keith Dodds.
Young art curators from across Birmingham are set to stage the first of four exhibitions this summer, as part of The Open Project and mac birmingham’s Next Generation programme. Selecting artworks from almost 300 West Midlands artists, each team of Young Curators* will decide on a theme, choosing the artworks to reflect it. They will also plan their own preview events, coordinate marketing and publicity. The first of the four exhibitions** will take place from Thursday 25 July to Sunday 28 July in mac birmingham’s prestigious First Floor Gallery.

The Young Curators, aged 16-24 years have a broad interest in the creative industries and art curating, coming from very different creative disciplines and backgrounds. They include; art graduates and NEETs (Not in Education, Training or Employment), photographers and djs. The Young Curators have all received in-depth training in the art of curation. Supported by a curatorial adviser, they have explored the often hidden, curatorial techniques behind an exhibition. Led by independent artist and curator, Trevor Pitt, the young people attended workshops that covered the practical; handling art in a gallery setting - to the conceptual; how can the gallery space be used to engage the public? They also attended marketing and PR workshops and visited several galleries across Birmingham to see the breadth of art on offer and how each exhibits.

There was also an opportunity for the teams of Young Curators to meet the artists, at The Open Project open day in June. This offered the artists an opportunity to discuss their work firsthand, enabling the Young Curators a greater understanding of each piece of art.
mac birmingham’s first floor gallery has been transformed by Birmingham-based artist duo, Juneau Projects. Each exhibition will be housed within a purpose built space within the gallery, leaving the unselected art ‘on show’ to the public in cleverly designed storage areas. The Young Curators also have the option of sharing their ideas and concepts behind their chosen exhibition, as their workstation is also ‘on show’ within the gallery.
Emma Leppington, one of mac birmingham’s Young Curators said: ‘Through The Open Project we have gained the unique experience of collaborating with other young creatives from different artistic backgrounds. All of the mac birmingham staff and Trevor Pitt have been really supportive in helping us realise our own exhibition and curatorial decisions.'

Dan Whitehouse, mac birmingham’sNext Generation Producer added: ‘Our Young Curators have lifted the lid on the curatorial process, extending their knowledge and understanding of art and the processes that govern them when exhibiting. They have all shared a part of themselves within their selections of art, which ensures that each exhibition will have an individual identity. In addition, The Open Project has offered many a renewed confidence, which they can use on their individual creative journeys in the future.’
*Young Curator Teams
Exhibition 1 - Thu 25 Jul –Sun 28 Jul
• Christopher Ward
• Emma Leppington
• Katherine Harris
• Hannah Bradley
• Curatorial Advisor – Trevor Pitt
Exhibition 2 - Thu 1 Aug – Sun 4 Aug
• Camilla Hajzerska
• Nadia Butt
• Stefan Crookes
• Anton Granil
• Thomas Page-Cassidy
• Curatorial Advisors - Lucy Bird (Reach) and Jo Newman (Tin Box Theatre Company)
Exhibition 3 - Thu 8 Aug – Sun 11 Aug
• Lilly Wales
• Sam Orchard
• Lucy Dixon
• Curatorial Advisor: Clare Thornton
Exhibition 4 - Thu 15 Aug – Sun 18 Aug