Imagining Islands: Artists and Escape – The Installation

Sarah Moseley and Sophia Susanto, MA Curating the Art Museum students

Every year, students on The Courtauld Institute of Art’s MA programme Curating the Art Museum are given the opportunity to curate an exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery. This year’s exhibition Imagining Islands: Artist and Escape opens on Thursday 20 June. 

Now for the moment that you’ve all been waiting for… INSTALLATION!

After months of preparation, we finally arrived at the stage where the exhibition of our imaginations became a reality.

First crates arriving

The first crates arrive

Before installation began, we meticulously constructed the layout using Google SketchUp. This computer program enabled us to create a virtual 3D model of the exhibition. We felt this was an essential tool to ensure we wouldn’t have any surprises during installation.

One of the works in the show is Bubble House by Tacita Dean, which is a film installation and the first of its kind in The Courtauld Gallery. The requirements given by the artist for displaying this work are very specific. To ensure that the work looks its best we decided to build temporary walls to create the dedicated space.

This was one of the most challenging aspects of the installation process. The parts for the walls were too big to fit into the lift and the heavy pieces had to be hand-carried up The Courtauld’s infamous winding staircase to the top floor.

The technicians then assembled the pieces in the gallery space, only to find that there was a light switch bulging out of the permanent gallery wall, causing the technicians to have to re-cut some of the wooden frames.

No matter how much planning you do, there will always be something you don’t anticipate. Lesson learnt!

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The building of the temporary walls for the film installation

Building the temporary walls for the film installation

Likewise, we came across surprises whilst hanging the artworks.

Despite having planned the layout in advance, once we saw the works in the gallery space, we began to feel differently about how they relate to one another.

Talking together as a group, we explored new ways of arranging them, which resulted in the display that you can see in the gallery today. The process of questioning and the opening up of our ideas made us more confident in our final decision.

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Curators deliberating and technicians hanging the works

MA Curators deliberating and technicians hanging the works

The installation process has given us a chance to gain further insight into what it takes to be good curators.

We needed to be flexible with our ideas yet be able to make firm decisions at key moments. It has been a wonderful experience to have our ideas finally become something tangible and concrete to share with others.

Imagining Islands: Artists and Escape is open from 20 June- 21 July.

We’d love to know what you think. Leave a comment or tweet using #ImaginingIslands@MACurating