Curatorial debut for UQ student Taylor Hall

31 Jan 2019
Taylor Hall
Taylor Hall

UQ Bachelor of Art History student, SoFA President and UQ Art Museum Student Engagement Council volunteer Taylor Hall was handed the curatorial reigns to transform one of three UQ Art Museum’s gallery spaces curated by UQ students for the Summer Mixer exhibition series – now showing at UQ Art Museum. We caught up with Taylor to hear more about this game-changing experience.

Q: How would you describe the exhibition you’ve curated for Summer Mixer
A: Hold, Everything is a chance to consider our innate relationship to materials. The exhibition aims to highlight physical interactions with materials in everyday life and how this informs our understanding of surfaces we can’t learn about through touch. The artworks in the exhibition are exclusively sculptural, as sculpture can reveal both the intuitive reading and the implicit nature of the artwork. My objective was to push for a more tactile way of seeing, allowing the artworks to demonstrate the complexity of their material substance and the way they are read. I wanted the relationship between viewer and artwork to, as the title implies, allow for deeper contemplation – a pause, if you will. Hold, Everything allows the audience to be intuitive and draw their own conclusions about the artworks and their relationship to each other, form and surface quality.

Q: What has the experience of working alongside the UQ Art Museum team been like for you as a first-time curator? 
A: Curating for the first time was a very daunting task, let alone being trusted with an entire exhibition space. All three of the student curators came into this opportunity with the seed of an idea and an eagerness to activate our research within an exhibition space. The opportunity provided by UQ Art Museum allowed our proposals come to life, and during this time, I gained confidence in my curatorial intuition and witnessed the scope and diversity of the UQ Art Museum team in action.

This experience has taught me that having both flexibility and confidence in your decisions is invaluable to a first-time curator. The UQ Art Museum team fostered these skills in us, especially working alongside Senior Curator Peta Rake and Associate Director Dr Holly Arden. We all had a lot of fun with our weekly meetings and I think together, we produced a brilliant show that we’re proud of!

Q: Have aspects of the process been surprising or unanticipated? 
A: The lure of curating is that you’re constantly faced with the unanticipated. This has a lot to do with the distance that’s created by your initial research, the actual space and the physical artworks. You can get very invested in both the images of an artwork and writings about it, as this is the launch pad for any exhibition. However, one of the best surprises came from being allowed to physically view artworks from the UQ Art Collection as a part of my selection process. I made so many assumptions and had expectations about artworks, which were then flipped when I got to view the physical objects. It’s this unpredictability that really feeds into my love of curating – there is nothing better than physically viewing art, and being in its presence to understand it more deeply.

Q: Can you see yourself in a curatorial role in the future or has this experience opened your mind to other avenues? 
A: I was already very interested in pursuing a curatorial role in the future, but this experience has shown me the significance of integrating artists into the process of curating. Working with UQ Art Museum allowed me to contact one of my featured artists, Benjamin Armstrong. Chatting with Benjamin affirmed the importance of creating a transparent communication channel between the curator and the artist to enhance the connectedness of contemporary art. We have such an ability to blur the boundaries of who dictates the way art is viewed and I’m so excited to use this experience to enhance my future curatorial projects. An example of this is an upcoming exhibition collaboration with UQ’s Society of Fine Arts (SoFA) and QUT’s Post Datum – we’re very excited to explore curatorial opportunities with QUT’s wonderful artists.

Summer Mixer: New Shows, New Curators is showing at UQ Art Museum until 18 May 2019.