Karen Parker - producer and curator of Response to “The Waste Land”
What made you want to organise an exhibition like this at Leamington Studio Artists?
“I was involved in the community curating project for Journeys with "The Waste Land" in Coventry, a project involving Turner Contemporary in Margate, The Mead and Warwick University, then, with the closure of the Mead, another collaboration with the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. The project was to curate a major exhibition based on T.S. Eliot's poem "The Waste Land". This was to find already existing works of art that would illustrate in some fashion the ideas and themes prompted by the poem. Margate chose Mental Health and the Sea, amongst others, and Coventry chose Fragmentation and Journeys. In the spirit of community collaboration both venues were encouraged to stage fringe events to further inform the exhibition and I thought a celebration of new works inspired by the poem would be interesting. I approached LSA to see if they would support my idea and then went on from there.”
For you as the curator, what were the biggest challenges you faced?
“Not having any idea how many would enter the competition, how many pieces of work I would have to hang, minimal prior knowledge of what was coming! Scary but exciting and challenging.”
What do you want audiences to take away with them after seeing this exhibition?
“I want audiences to see the diversity of talent and the possible connections with Art and Poetry, to be inspired to read T.S. Eliot and others and to see the quality of local artists.”
What have you enjoyed most about the project so far?
“Well having been anxious as to what would actually appear on submission day I have to say it was an exciting challenge to put together the final exhibition, but great fun too.”
What advice would you give aspiring people wanting to become involved in curating and exhibition projects likeJourneys with “The Waste Land”?
“All I can say is give it a go! Look closely at other exhibitions and be open to new ideas.”
What are your plans for the future? Any other exciting projects you’ll be involved in?
“I am curating a wonderful body of work by Bryan B Kelly in Rugby Floor One Gallery next, which is going to be a joy as Bryan's work is so colourful and as far removed from "The Waste Land " as you can get! I am also keen to be involved in Coventry City of Culture as I have seen the benefits for other cities, such as Hull last year, and want the same injection of life and purpose for Coventry.”