As part of my MA in Art Gallery and Museum studies, I had the opportunity to do my work placement at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool, the only gallery dedicated to photography and related media in the North West of England. Open Eye is run by a fairly small team of six full time staff and it was really a pleasure to be part of their team on a weekly basis. Open Eye is situated on Mann Island, on Liverpool’s regenerated waterfront, a few minutes away from Tate Liverpool and the Museum of Liverpool, which makes it a very culturally vibrant location… and a great place to have lunch by the river Mersey when the weather allows it.
I was involved with the Open Eye team as Exhibition and Research Assistant, therefore mainly working with the Exhibition Coordinator on the development of the current exhibition for which she was also the curator: Ebb and Flow: a Visual Chronicle of the Changes within Liverpool’s Chinatown on display until June 22, 2014. This exhibition offers a visual survey of the history and the changes that have taken place within Liverpool’s Chinatown (the oldest Chinese community in Europe). Archival photographs from Bert Hardy from the 1940s as well as photographs from Martin Parr from the 1980s illustrate and document the development of the Chinese community. Two contemporary works are also included in the exhibition: works by the Sound Agents (a duo of artists consisting of Moira Kenny and John Campbell) and works by Jamie Lau.
For this exhibition, I have been involved in all the stages of the exhibition development, from the conceptual phase to the installation. In terms of curatorial tasks, I was mainly involved at the conceptual phase (involving idea gathering and research) and at the development phase consisting of planning and production. For instance, I helped the curator select the artworks to include in the exhibition. I also did research to source material to complement the history told through the photographs to be included in vitrines. As part of the curatorial tasks I accomplished, I also participated in the creation of interpretative material for the exhibition by writing the script for the audio-guide accompanying the exhibition.
I also participated in the creation of a public programme of events for the launch of the exhibition that coincided with Liverpool’s LightNight, a ‘one-night arts and culture festival.’ I helped coordinate events for the evening including a Chinese calligraphy workshop, a Chinese harp performance and a Taichi and dance performance.
During my placement, I carried a very wide range of tasks that this short overview can only give a taste of. As well as allowing me to apply my research and communication skills in a professional context, this placement has allowed me to acquire a lot of technical skills. Finally, being an international student, this placement allowed me to familiarise myself with the functioning of a UK-based art organisation, which will be very beneficial for my future career.