Moira Lindsay is the Victoria Gallery & Museum’s Art Curator. Together with Susan Forsyth they discussed Susan’s original proposal for ‘The Victoria Art School: the smallest art school in the world’. On Susan’s first visit to us Moira explained the history of our collections and the University’s School of Applied Art and Architecture. Here Moira recaps the process of developing the idea of the Victoria Art School into the Art Sheds and choosing the accompanying artwork.
“We were sitting in my office which overlooks the quadrangle and I mentioned the Art Sheds (pointing out the quad through my window, as this is where they used to sit.) Susan was really taken with the art sheds and keen to respond to the history of the site and went on to develop her proposal to devise Susan Forsyth: Art Sheds.
“Over the next week or so Susan and I talked about our exhibition and I sent her more information on the sheds, the artists and related works from our collection. We then scheduled visits to the stores so that Susan could get a really good feel for the scope of the collections, which are fairly – and wonderfully – eclectic. For Susan it was crucial to see the objects in the flesh, so she patiently spent many hours with us in the stores. Susan was so thorough I think she probably knows more about some parts of the collections than I do!
“What I was most excited about was Susan’s interest in items that perhaps are overlooked, or not the obvious ‘star’ items. We went through as much as we could looking at original objects in the stores, discussing them, and then Susan created her first list of objects that she wanted to display. This list was of course then refined as Susan thought about how the selection of works related to the shed sculptures and her themes.
“One of my favourite objects is the Gregson sampler. We have six samplers in the Gregson collection, all made by girls in the Gregson family, one of them is dedicated to a sibling that died at 2 years old. Susan knew in advance about the samplers but when she saw them she was really moved by their history. Working daily in a collection we sometimes forget how amazing it is to have access to these things. It was a delight to work with Susan and I am so pleased that she chose to use our collections in her installation. Looking at historic collections with an artist brings a fresh perspective and hearing what inspires artists is insightful and often unexpected.”
The Art Sheds exhibition for the Liverpool Biennial 2014 runs at the Victoria Gallery & Museum until 25th October.