On Placement: Curating The First Humans Exhibition

Placement student Rose Hellyar worked at Plymouth Arts Centre on the curation of The First Humans exhibition. This is her account of her time with us.

Curated by Angela Kingston, in association with Plymouth Arts Centre, The Pump House Gallery in London and Arts Council England, The First Humans exhibition has a central theme of early human civilisation of the late Paleolithic time period, dating back to 94BC. The artworks displayed have a primeval context, to enhance public learning.

The exhibition shows the works of Jack Strange, Vidya Gastaldon, Salvatore Arancio and Caroline Achaintre. Working within mediums of installation, video art, photography, print, painting, sculpture and textiles.

I was on placement at Plymouth Arts Centre for my BA Joint HONS Fine Art and Art History course, at the University of Plymouth to gain curatorial experience as that is my chosen career field.
I was able to contribute and present my own ideas to the team, use Photoshop to help plan the exhibition layout, as well as perform condition checks, and install the art with the PAC team. It was great to work within a curatorial office environment, to get this practical hands on experience which will be applied in the future.

I researched Plymouth’s own Paleolithic history to give the exhibition a historical context, specifically focusing on anthropological history and archaeological findings, such as primeval spear heads, or animals bones etc. All these findings have helped narrow down our research to focus on one timeline, and therefore influencing artists and tying everything together at the end.

The use of gallery space I found was also important, and I felt that The Threefold Law by Andy Harper (2012) was the piece to draw attention to the exhibition theme, as well as enticing the viewers to carry on around the gallery to see more of the displays.

On reflection of my experience within Plymouth Arts Centre’s Curatorial team, from me being able to practically and theoretically engage in curating was a dynamic and innovative experience. It has presented the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.

The overall feeling of the exhibition was successful, the team worked very well together to meet deadlines, and therefore taught me further time management and prioritization skills. This also created the feeling that I want to work within a team like this in the not so distant future.

Rose J Hellyar


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