Exhibition Process – Interpretation

In the run up to the opening of GENERATIONS: Connecting Across Time and Place, we will be giving you a peek at what is going on behind the scenes. Today’s post is about interpretation!

Interpretation is basically everything that gives you information about the works and the exhibition, from the captions and leaflet to your tour guide. Taking on the challenge is our Interpretation Team, formed of Amber, Carlotta and me. It’s quite a major task, as it was up to us to formulate the main themes and ideas of the exhibition through words.

Carlotta, Debbie and Amber hard at work editing the object captions

A couple of weeks ago, the whole MA Curating group met with Sam McGuire, Interpretation Curator at Tate, and Rachael Minott, Curator at the Horniman Museum. They helped us go through our interpretation strategy and texts, giving us invaluable advice and making sure we were on the right track. Not writing too formally has been a bit of a challenge for us and although we couldn’t be persuaded to throw in any hashtags or witty retorts (sorry), we’ve now got something we’re pretty happy with.

For some of the works, it was more difficult to find information online or in the library. We took this opportunity to talk directly with some of exhibiting artists. We met with Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom to discuss his practice and specifically his 2014 work Plantain Drop. It was a great opportunity to hear more about his work which looks at the intersection of different cultures and the many cultural references we can read into everyday objects. For example, in Plantain Drop we might see a slapstick banana skin, a graphic screen print or a phallic symbol from Freudian psychology. Personally, it makes me think of one of the few really Nigerian things we ate as a family growing up and a trip to Lagos aged 8 when I refused to eat anything else!

Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom, Plantain Drop, 2014. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. © the artist

We also met Alejandra Carles-Tolra and gave our first tour of the exhibition – albeit with no works yet in place. We are so used to seeing the exhibition plans on SketchUp, that I think it took us a while to realise that Alejandra couldn’t actually see any works on the walls we were pointing at. She assured us that although it was her first exclusively auditory tour, she had really enjoyed it.

We are very excited that both artists, along with Hardeep Pandhal, will be discussing their work as part of our programme of talks and events.

For the leaflet, and to be featured on this website, we have also been collecting quotes from interesting people about how they connect to other generations. We are really excited to have gathered some really insightful and personal quotes from poets, politicians, musicians and more, which we will share here over the coming weeks.

Leaflet progression – final version to come

After a couple of months hard craft for what is essentially a couple of hundred words, we are almost done! With nearly everything sent to print, we can sit back, relax and try not to have too many nightmares about typos…