A new art exhibition with a difference has opened at the Manx Museum. VOYAGE – A nautical adventure through our ever-changing seas has been curated by six young people in full time education, whilst completing a summer work placement with Manx National Heritage.
The exhibition showcases a broad range of seascapes from the Manx national art collection, creatively and colourfully curated alongside modern pieces including a stunning artwork on loan from Roger Dean.
Katie King, Manx National Heritage Curator for Art & Social History, explains more about the project:
“Every year we are contacted by a broad range of young people wishing to gain work experience with us over the summer holidays. This year has been very difficult for students, with many having their work experience cancelled and many students missing out on face to face lessons. We really wanted to make their voluntary experience extra special and genuinely beneficial for their future careers. Their brief was to work with our art collections to create an engaging exhibition to attract a younger audience to the Manx Museum.
The Curating the Art Collections project was inspired by an idea to trial co-curating an exhibition with members of the community. It was motivated by a desire to enable meaningful engagement with the collections.
The six students had behind the scenes access to our art collections, and were able to choose paintings for the show. We have all been extremely impressed by their professionalism, and the quality of the show is fantastic.”
The six student curators (aged between 15 and 21) worked alongside Manx National Heritage staff and tackled each aspect of the exhibition as a team – from conservation, design, marketing, installation, interpretation and learning. Here students Lucy-may Hill, Amy Ratcliffe, Molly Crowe, Eryn Byrne, Eleanor Lees, and George Sanders explain more about their experience and what visitors can expect from a visit to the exhibition:
“Curating this special exhibition has been an amazing voyage. Throughout this creative process, we’ve had exclusive access to Manx National Heritage’s art collection, allowing us to have full control over the curation of the exhibition, which is now on public display.
We began by selecting paintings that we wanted to display; this came with a number of challenges, including the painting’s medium and their condition. After choosing our favourite pieces, we had to decide on a theme. Luckily, many of our chosen paintings told a nautical story, so the theme of the Island’s calm and stormy seas came with ease.
Finally, we knew we wanted to celebrate the ever-changing nature of the sea. We positioned the art works in the gallery to create the illusion of being on a historical voyage, to create an atmosphere that reflected this. This has been a great experience for all of us, during which we have learnt about the art collection, conservation and how to curate an engaging exhibition.”
The team learnt a lot during the experience, and explained a little more about why they wanted to volunteer with Manx National Heritage this summer:
Amy Ratcliffe, aged 18, who is about to start Year 13 at Ramsey Grammar School had this to say about her experience:
“In December last year, I volunteered at Castle Rushen’s Snow Queen Event, but as much as I loved it, I wanted a more hands-on experience, preferably at one of the museums, so when the chance to curate an exhibition at the Manx Museum came up, I leapt at the opportunity. This has been such an amazing experience, and it has really helped narrow down what I would like to do in the future. Seeing everything come together in the exhibit was fantastic, and realising that something that we had all worked so hard on will actually be on show for anyone and everyone to come and enjoy was almost surreal.”
Eleanor Lees, aged 16, who is going into Year 12 at Ballakermeen High school stated:
“Having just finished Year 11 and going through the process of choosing my A-levels, I was considering what I wanted to study at university. Taking part in this work experience programme offered the opportunity to gain relevant experience if I choose to study History. My favourite part was seeing the weird and wonderful art pieces in the art storage area, and being able to gain insight into how exhibitions are developed.”
Eryn Byrne, aged 17 and going into Year 13 at Ballakermeen, said:
“I thought that getting the extra experience about the work that goes into a museum could be really beneficial and is also relevant to the A-levels I am currently studying. The opportunity has given me insight into possible career paths.”
Lucy-may Hill, aged 15 and going into Year 11 at Ballakermeen said:
“I have always enjoyed History and just find learning about the subject fascinating. I am looking into the possibility of studying it in the future. My favourite part of the two weeks was just seeing everything in the exhibition come together.”
Molly Crowe, aged 21 is about to start her Masters at University of York talked about her love of culture;:
“I was excited to gain experience in the heritage environment as it’s extremely relevant to what I’m currently studying. I really enjoyed the development of the exhibition and gaining a valuable understanding the role of the curator, which I’m hoping to pursue as a career.”
George Sanders, aged
VOYAGE – A nautical adventure through our ever-changing seas is on display until 31 October 2021 at the Manx Museum, Douglas – open daily 9:30am – 4:30pm. Admission is free
Image caption: The Curating the Art Collections Team – (Left to right) Amy Ratcliffe, Lucy-may Hill, Eleanor Lees, Eryn Bryne and Molly Crowe.
Associated video: Watch as one of the pieces selected by the student team for display is conserved.
For further information, please contact:
Lynsey Clague, Communications Manager – Manx National Heritage
T: 01624 648032
Manx National Heritage, Eiraght Ashoonagh Vannin
Manx Museum, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 3LY
Isle of Man Registered Charity No. 603