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BEHIND THE SCENES

In this week's blog, Assistant Curator, Victoria Howarth, tells us about the planning and inspiration behind our forthcoming exhibition, A Scottish Selection: Paintings from the Fleming Collection

We have just started the installation week of our new exhibition A Scottish Selection: Paintings from the Fleming Collection. The Fleming Collection is widely regarded as the finest collection of Scottish art in private hands, and we were keen to work with another significant private collection. This new exhibition will showcase paintings by significant Modern British artists from the Fleming Collection, displayed alongside key Scottish works from the Jerwood Collection.  This will be the first time that the Fleming Collection has travelled to East Sussex, and we are thrilled to exhibit these works at Jerwood Gallery. 
 
Jerwood Gallery Director, Liz Gilmore, and I explored a number of different curatorial angles when we began planning for this exhibition in 2014. The Fleming Collection is rich and varied, comprising over 750 oil paintings and watercolours from 1770 to the present day, so there was a huge range of artworks to consider.  We considered a number of different approaches, including: focusing on the earliest works in the collection; a contemporary focus on more recent works; making the work of the Scottish Colourists central to the exhibition.  However, throughout the process we kept coming back to the same central theme – that of the strong links between the Jerwood and Fleming Collections, and decided that this should be the main focus of the exhibition. 

Artists that are represented in both collections include Anne Redpath, Craigie Aitchison, William Gillies, John Bellany, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Peter Howson, and the work of these artists has become the main focus of the exhibition at Jerwood Gallery.  Celebrating the Scottish artists in our own collection is something that we haven’t previously focused on, and this is another exciting aspect of the display.  One of our main endeavours is to enrich the understanding of the Jerwood Collection, and this display allows us to draw out new stories from the collection.

Exhibition planning is a lengthy process, which usually begins a number of years in advance. The research, planning, development, artwork requests, interpretation, logistics, insurance planning, marketing, programming, project management, installation, staff training, and finally opening a new exhibition to the public, is a unique process every time. Before the art work arrives at the gallery, the majority of the work has already been done.

Installation week is, for me, the most exciting time, as I finally get to see the art works that I have spent such a long time researching. Once the works have arrived, been unpacked and condition checked, Liz and I will work with Janet Casey, Collections Manager at the Fleming Collection, and our team of technicians to finalise the hang.  It is so wonderful to see the paintings, labels and interpretive text finally going up on the walls, and getting to hear what our visitors think about the different exhibitions and displays at Jerwood Gallery makes all the hard work worthwhile!