top of page
  • Writer's pictureSuzy Costello, workbooks

Exhibition Week 2, 27-31 July 2020

SPEED DATING We gathered in the very beautiful art deco grand hall of the National Museum to speed date into exhibition teams of 4-5 people. It just seemed overwhelming to me and I decided to flag the concept of an online exhibition with people I didn't know and headed to a team meeting with Izzy and her friends in Block 2. Knowing Izzy had assembled a good group of people to work with seemed the most important thing to me.

TEAM FORMATION So our group is 5 female artists -

  1. Izzy (charcoal drawings of tree roots), FA

  2. Breena (drawings of dogs), FA

  3. Victoria (photography and video of birds), Design

  4. Anoushka from Design (who will focus on curating/graphic design rather than making artwork for the exhibition)

  5. Darnah from Photography (who will focus on curating/graphic design rather than making artwork for the exhibition)

  6. Me (cicada shells), FA.

Already we have identified our thematic concept - challenging how we perceive our world - and have a shared Google document for the draft proposal to be completed this Friday, a shared blog for recording what we do, and have begun efforts to find a location. We communicate via messenger so everyone stays in the loop.

It feels good to be moving together with energy and co-operation. We all seem willing to embrace the idea of enjoying it which is great.


1. Curatorial advice from Jeff Hoffman!

“The task at hand in displaying art is not to interrupt or avoid the spectacle, or even co-opt it.

Instead, exhibitions should strive to produce novel experiences that in turn produce new visual languages and relationships.

Rather than stimulate in ways that never exceed sensory experience, exhibitions can give us new intellectual frameworks within which to think about the things we sense.

Their particular brand of criticality is one that is both cerebral and visceral but ideally never sways too far in either direction.

The role of the curator is to establish this balance.”

From (Curating) from A to Z

2. Selecting the Exhibition Site - resonance or discordance?

Thinking about Jeff’s advice to balance the cerebral and the visceral experience for the audience, it seems important to consider the implications of the exhibition site, not just the white cube inside, but the site’s location and narrative.

For example, if we find a location that is set within nature (eg. Zealandia EcoSanctuary, Wellington Botanical Gardens, Matiu Sommes Island, outdoors) the exhibition space will resonate with our theme of How We Perceive the World. Conversersely, if we set our artwork in a site that contrasts with our theme of nature (e.g. in a corporate or industrial site, or virtual space) what will this add to the viewers’ experience and interpretation of the artwork?

3. A Captive Audience Each site will already have an audience e.g. visitors to a gallery/public space, people passing by, workers in a corporate building.

  • How important is this ready-made audience to us?

  • How can we engage with this audience e.g. a social engaged art practice, brochures, being available to chat?

  • How will the exhibition change the function of the space?

  • How will we present and hang our work without damaging the site?

Hoffmans' description of the role of the curator seems beautifully articulated, and suggests a curator requires a sensitive, delicate touch in order to stimulate and engage with an audience. The balance of cerebral and visceral needs to be revisited in terms of the audience e.g. if we choose to exhibit at Zealandia or Botanical Gardens we may have an audience of younger children and families. Would a participatory art practice be more appropriate for this audience?

4. Ideas for location Here are some suggestions for a location to add to everyone else’s mix -

  1. Zealandia EcoSanctuary - a Wellington public natural reserve and education centre that has enabled native birds to flourish and repopulate central Wellington. They have a display area for local artists’ work. Contact: Stacey Turnbull Learning and Engagement Team ph 920 9213

  2. Wellington Botanical GardensTreehouse -

  3. Hut on Matiu-Somes island

  4. Foyer at RNZ Building, The Terrace - LINZ are based here and the foyer is a spectacular high ceilinged spacious marbled walled area. We can contact the owner who may be amenable for us to hold an art exhibition in this space.

  5. Foyer at Forest and Birds, 205 Victoria Street, Te Aro

  6. Empty property on Cuba Street that was Herbivore

5. Advice from Shannon

Shannon’s wisdom gleaned during his time working on this paper -

  • Allow group direction to evolve from the collection of the artworks, e.g. aesthetics thematics, but be malleable and keep it loose to allow diversity

  • Use lecturers and engage in a robust exchange in the installation and finer details

  • When hanging take a couple of things out. Most exhibitions have too much stuff

  • Investigate how you pull together an audience and consider the option of digital exhibitions

  • Document everything as it will affect your grades

The Wish Tree by Yoko Ono, Photo by Getty Images

PROPOSAL DRAFT This is my section of an artist statement, artwork to install and a floor plan for the proposed draft plan. This is what I wrote -

Suzy Costello

I like to follow the narratives and materiality of discarded natural materials collected from my local area in Eastbourne. These include summer materials like the exquisite red carpet of fallen pōhutukawa stamen; vibrant wood from two felled 110 year-old pōhutukawa trees; and hundreds of empty cicada shells delicately removed from their anchor on tree trunks during their final in-star molt.

By following the narrative and properties of each material, it has led to a consideration of humanity’s relationship with these materials and, more broadly, humanity’s relationship with nature. How do we attend to both human and non-human living forms? Alongside science, experiencing art is a powerful mechanism to reexamine our current environmental concerns and find creative solutions to these problems.

For this exhibition, I am proposing a sculptural work using gold-leaf cicadas grouped on the floor and golden thread suspended from the ceiling, in a semi-darkened space that suspends the viewer in a place of transition and possibility.


bottom of page