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We Are MA: Curation

We Are MA: Curation

At Norwich University of the Arts, students on MA Curation explore the idea of ‘exhibition’ in the broadest sense. 

Full time student Robyn Bailey discusses her transition from BA (Hons) Fine Art and her curatorial practice.

Can you tell me a bit about your practice?

Since graduating from BA (Hons) Fine Art at NUA in 2018, I’ve chosen to pursue curation as a specialism. My recent projects have been based on the artist and curator relationship, and now that I study curation I tend to look at practice from another standpoint.

My first project, which is still ongoing, explores the artist and curator relationship through a series of practice photography twinned with casual conversations. These sessions involve capturing the practitioner in the moment of making through photography and video recordings, and encourage reflection through demonstration and explanation.

Having a background in Fine Art certainly helped me to understand the making processes being demonstrated and allowed me break down any initial barriers.

I am also currently in the midst of organising a series of creative practitioner talks which will be taking place at the Norwich Playhouse. The aim is to make creative practice the centre of conversation and discussion within a comfortable environment which contrasts the traditional white cube.

How are you finding the transition from BA Fine Art to MA Curation?

A masters is a big undertaking and as a full-time student there is a lot packed into one year. Going from Fine Art to Curation has certainly been a learning curve but I’m enjoying it. Whilst I have had previous experience with curation and event support, there has been much to learn when choosing to study curation formally. My greatest challenge so far has been balancing different units which have the same date for submission!

"The MA Curation course felt grounded because it offered both theory and real-life experiences. The chance to take part in an internship and a gallery training program were important when choosing where to study my MA. "

Robyn Bailey

Why did you decide to stay on at NUA for your Masters?

My first impression of NUA stuck with me! A friend already studying here introduced me to Norwich and NUA in 2015 and before I knew it I was sitting in one of Carl Rowe’s Open Day speeches for BA (Hons) Fine Art. There was clear enthusiasm for the subject and amongst the formality of the speech was a great sense of humour!

The MA Curation course felt grounded because it offered both theory and real-life experiences. The chance to take part in an internship and a gallery training program were important when choosing where to study my MA.

As a sidenote, when I first started at NUA I was surprised to see that the ladies loos stored free feminine hygiene products! I hadn’t seen this before. This was made possible by the NUA Students’ Union and it is still upheld to this day! How amazing is that?

What do you think about the creative network in Norwich and NUA’s ethos of collaboration?

Collaboration is at the centre of my curatorial practice and this is nurtured by NUA’s enthusiasm for inter-disciplinary partnerships. With the course encouraging collaboration during our inter-subject tutorials and in general, my projects have had great interest and it hasn’t felt forced because collaboration is a natural part of the course. 

Since the end of January this year I have been interning at The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and the experience has been invaluable. I also recently looked back on my painting and drawing practice by taking part in a reunion exhibition for the Young Curators Silver Arts Award Project which is based at the Gibberd Gallery in Essex. The Young Curators specialises in engaging young people in curation as a practice and much like NUA has given me a network to come back to. 

Do you have any favourite places to go in Norwich and Norfolk?

I’m fond of the Norwich Playhouse because it’s quirky and there’s always something interesting happening, either with the exhibitions they host or the fun illustrations that appear on the bar. Houghton Hall is a wonderful place to experience art outside the traditional gallery space; there’s so much to explore in the gardens and has previously had exciting workshops for children. Visiting the Norfolk Broads is also a must! There is so much to see and if you go at the right time of year it is teeming with animals and wild flowers.