Mary Kisler

The Enchanted Garden - Pulling it all together

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While in many contemporary exhibitions, it is not usual practice to write extended labels for individual art works, for a large scale summer show that ranges across a wide theme they are an integral part of the experience.

I am an inveterate hoarder of magazine articles, second hand books, extracts off the web, etc so when I started to plan The Enchanted Garden exhibition I already had a lot of material to hand. However, without the assistance of the Gallery’s librarians, who are always happy to source material, it would not have been possible to cover the range of themes that I have. Even after writing 130 extended labels (some loans don’t have them) there is still so much more that could be said.

It is when you write the wall texts that the exhibition really comes together. Sometimes wall texts are really obvious and simple, but on other occasions narrowing down what you need to say, and tying different aspects of a show together, can get very challenging. Then everything has to be edited carefully for any errors or oversights – a daunting task that requires the assistance of willing readers.

While it is the registrar’s job to assist by liaising with artists and dealers when bringing works into the gallery, our designer has also been busy working out how to best display the range of works. Spaces change between exhibitions and for this show we have opened up the atrium, so the centre of the gallery is flooded with light.

Luckily most of the walls have remained in the positions created for the previous show (2008 Walters Prize), but the spaces are starting to look very different as new colours go on the walls. In this way we can tie particular works and themes together.

One of the preparators has constructed a circular table that is also an interactive for children, and a Temple of Vesta has been constructed as one of the four activities that we are offering to booked tours for people with visual impairment, to give added meaning to two prints which show the Temple in its natural surroundings. Much to do…

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