Behind-the-scenes at 'Host'... Insights into curating & hanging an exhibition

Head curator, Emma Kelly, adjusting the artworks

Wanting to go beyond the norm of simply delivering my painting to the new 'Host' exhibition at The Gallery at Bank Quay House, I asked Head Curator Emma Kelly if I could assist her in hanging the exhibition. With the dastardly plan to pick her brains about her role as curator, see what really happens 'behind-the-scenes' and what interests her when choosing to do a show.

As the gallery has now been established for nearly 5 years, to mark the occasion Emma wanted to collaborate with 37 local artists celebrating their work and valuable support over the years. Bringing artists together is a great way to bring forth new ideas and connections. 'Host' is part of an ongoing programme of varied exhibitions aimed at different audiences. They have an open vision which works well in their flexible, adaptable spaces cultivating a wide variety of themes and making it accessible for everyone to see.

For Emma personally, as Head Curator she loves work that challenges the viewers space around them, blurring the lines between visitor and artwork. Anne Hardy, a well-reknowned photographer, particularly catches her attention with her immersive pieces that aim to deliver an 'experience'. By creating imagined environments, her 'photographic paintings' depict surreal fictions and a fabricated nature of reality.

We also spoke about what makes a successful show and agreed that one which provokes a reaction and gets people discussing art is a great indicator. Whether they're disturbed, love it or are unsure, but start questioning how it was made and what it means, this is what art is all about. Sales are important but not necessarily a primary indicator of the success of the show. Feedback, discussion and visitor comments all inform the basis of the galleries development, which is different to the model of a commercial gallery. As an independent gallery, committed to inspiring the community, their programme of exhibitions communicate different viewpoints and artistic expression designed to encourage interaction and debate.

While we got to grips with organising the range of works being delivered by the artists. I was
impressed that they were all willing to do their part if there were specific requirements in hanging or displaying their work particularly the wooden door installation entitled ‘Love in the First Degree’ by Debbie Budenberg depicting themes of family, time and space. 

By unwrapping all the pieces, it was quickly clear to Emma which ones would need to go where. For example, for practical reasons, larger works such as Tracy Hill's amazing etching and Colin Grimes painting needed to go on the back wall where they would have enough space. Sculptures such as the playful Rhino (with painted toenails) by Alan & Geraldine Snape needed their own plinth. By co-ordinating and classifying pieces by subject, colour, size, texture, etc, Emma could go ahead and define which pieces would work well together and create a journey or flow within the space. This changed as pieces arrived and shifted around.

Plus there was also the added element of performance on the preview day which meant extra space was needed for Jeni McConnell to engage in her display of what it means and how it feels to lose someone close to you who can't remember who are. The execution of lost memories was never more apt than in her interpretation of the dissolving washcloth.

It's easy to get excited about an exhibition when you have a real passion for art. Emma actively brings together artists and instills an energy that's hard to ignore when uniting artists together for an exhibition that the public will enjoy.

On now until 20th April
The Gallery at Bank Quay House
Sankey Street, Warrington, WA1 1NN

Open Mon-Fri, 9-5pm
Free Entry

My painting... 'Nowhere to Hide' 2014 Mixed media

Please take note that your art may flourish from reading this blog :)


  1. great post!! excited to see you on blogspot...if you're interested I'm on
    I'll share this...lets get the message out there!!


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