Michelle Kasprzak's views on contemporary art curating

Job: Curator, Art of Ageing, Newcastle University

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Monday, November 23. 2009 • Category: Jobs & Opportunities

Changing Age: The Art of Ageing - Deadline: Friday 27 November


Newcastle University’s new strategic plan, encompassing the Vice-Chancellor’s emphasis on
Newcastle as a Civic University, will focus on a series of societal challenges, the first of
which will be the theme of Ageing. ‘Changing Age’, as this programme is being called, has
three key objectives:

1. To celebrate the University’s achievements in Ageing
2. To create a lasting legacy of increasing involvement in Ageing across the
University and region.
3. To establish Newcastle in the national and international conscious as a leading
centre for Ageing.

A key feature of the Changing Age programme is to develop activities that reflect the
multidisciplinary nature of the challenges and issues associated with Ageing. Various
projects, initiatives and events spanning the full range of research, teaching and
engagement activities of the University will be undertaken during the remainder of 2009 and
throughout 2010 that will contribute directly to the Changing Age programme.
This Job Description relates to a project that will seek to organise a series of events and an
exhibition aimed at exploring dimensions of the Art and Science of Ageing.

The Art and Science of Ageing

The central idea of addressing the Art and Science of Ageing is to recognise that the ageing
process has its roots in the life sciences yet impacts on every dimension of human
experience including the aesthetic. The aim is to build upon the enthusiasm of several
members of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences who have identified possible
contributions to the Changing Age programme, including Fine Art, Music, the International
Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Creative Writing and Culture Lab. This will be
combined wherever possible with contributions from biologists, clinicians, psychologists,
engineers and others, in the spirit of the sci-art collaborations that have been promoted by
organisations such as the Wellcome Trust, Academy of Medical Sciences, and the British

One of the key initiatives will be a visual arts exhibition, The Art of Ageing, for which we
now wish to appoint a Curator. Core funding has been secured to pursue this venture. A
number of ideas have been discussed and these are captured below.

It is envisaged that various strands of activity will be brought together in a major exhibition on
The Art of Ageing to be held in the Great North Museum: Hancock in the autumn of 2010.

The core programme might involve:
• Artwork drawing upon biomedical images such as magnetic resonance scans, electron
microscopy images, live cell imaging, etc. Inputs and participation will be drawn from
researchers within the Institute for Ageing and Health and other groups. There will also
be potential material from artists in residence including Susan Aldworth (images of brain
scans and MRI’s) and Valerie Laws.
• Artworks by older people, involving the Friends of the Hatton Gallery and possibly the
annual art competition run for the over 60’s by Age Concern Art Awards.
• Workshops with schools looking at intergenerational issues, working with the Hatton’s
educational programme and Culture Lab’s Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy
(SIDE) project.
• Ageing faces, including work by Carla Broomhead, winner of the 2009 Lee Turner
Publishing Prize.
• Lecture series given by FBAs, linked to the Public Lectures with the support of the British
Academy (arranged through Prof Vicki Bruce).

The Art and the Science of Ageing Steering Group has highlighted the urgent need to
appoint a curator to co-ordinate the development of the exhibition and bring together the
various ideas in a cohesive manner. A job description outlining this curatorial role follows.

Job description: Curator for ‘The Art of Ageing’ programme

Main Purpose

To co-ordinate the development of The Art of Ageing exhibition, exploring various potential
contributions and bringing selected ideas together in a cohesive manner.

To work with members of the Art and Science of Ageing Steering Group to sketch out a
programme of activities and develop a Wellcome Trust application (deadline 29 January
2010). This could provide resources, additional to the core funding already secured, to
support enhancements such as a more extensive engagement programme and artists’

To co-ordinate and oversee the installation of the exhibition.

To liaise with relevant partners to contribute to marketing plans and ensure that the
exhibition fits with the broader cultural and Changing Age programmes.

Support and advice will be provided by the Dean of Cultural Affairs, to whom the Curator will
report, and the Cultural Affairs Development Officer, along with members of the Steering
Group. The Curator will also work closely with staff in the Great North Museum.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

1. Liaise with the Dean of Cultural Affairs, the Art and the Science of Ageing Steering
Group, the Great North Museum (GNM) and other partners to ensure key objectives and
expectations relating to the proposed The Art of Ageing exhibition are understood, and
will indeed fit within the broader Changing Age programme.

2. Develop a robust proposal – including a timeline and full budgetary details – to cover both
the core programming costs and an expanded programme for further funding applications
(this would include a more extensive engagement programme, as well as artists’
commissions, etc).

3. Support the development of a Wellcome Trust, Arts Award application by working closely
with the Dean of Cultural Affairs and the Art and Science of Ageing Steering Group.
4. Liaise with other museum, art gallery professionals, artists and outside agencies, to
negotiate the loan of appropriate artworks and exhibition materials.

5. Work with the education teams at GNM and the Hatton Gallery to design a series of
engagement workshops for different community groups – these may involve schools, as
well as those who work with the elderly (Equal Arts, Helix Arts, Age Concern, etc.)

6. Support the promotion and marketing of the exhibition and associated programme by
working with the University Marketing and Publicity Unit, as well as key staff at Tyne and
Wear Archives and Museums. This may include the development of an exhibition

7. Oversee the delivery and installation of art work, working alongside the GNM team.

8. Explore opportunities for student involvement in the development and delivery of the
exhibition. This may involve liaising with key academics from the School of Arts and
Cultures as well as representatives from the Union Society.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

• A degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject area such as fine art, history of art or
cultural and/or heritage studies.
• Experience of working in a museum environment, preferably in a curatorial role.
Experience of developing exhibitions and programmes for non-specialist audiences
would also be desirable.
• Some experience of undertaking research, responding to public enquiries, and preparing
and delivering presentations is desirable.
• An understanding of collections’ management issues, particularly collections care and

Self-motivated and able to demonstrate your ability to plan and organise your workload,
manage projects and build positive relationships within an organisation and external

Timing and salary

The curator will be expected to commit around 35 days in total to the project, of which
approximately 10 will be before the end of January to shape the exhibition proposal and
develop a Wellcome Trust application. A further 25 days will be delivered during the rest
2010, building towards the exhibition itself in the autumn. A daily rate of between £200 and
£250 is envisaged, depending on experience.

Application and Interview

Interested candidates should send a letter of application together with a CV to
jennifer.allinson -at- (Cultural Affairs Development Officer) by Friday 27 November.
Interviews will be held between 9 and 16 December 2009.
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