ARC is a monthly event at The Vaults organised by Laura Coult and Shamrez Marawat offering regional curators and arts organisations the opportunity to present work. Guest curators are invited to put on a one night exhibition on at the Jewellery Quarter based bar/restaurant. I have seen some great shows there in the last few months and decided to talk to Laura and Sham about the event. This month’s takes place on Wednesday 28 April, curated by Jenine McGaughran and features the work of female artists.
Why did you start ARC?
Sham: Laura and I talked about ARC for ages before it happened – it never got any further than the ‘that would be good’ stage until Laura was required to curate and realise an exhibition as part of her MA course. From that point it all happened really quickly -within a month we negotiated use of the space with The Vaults, decided on a name, and done the marketing for the first event (Nov 2009).
Laura: Having been involved in the first show I feel confident that ARC is a good opportunity for curators to present work and build their curatorial CV. For consistency we decided we to run it the last Wednesday of each month and began approaching curators. It’s essentially an event to encourage curatorial activity within the region and we encourage risk-taking and diversity.
Why The Vaults?
L: The architectural allure and history of the building makes it an exciting and challenging place for curators. Apparently it was designed by H.R. Yeoville Thomason, who designed the Council House and much of Colmore Row – since then there’s been a succession of tenants including shipping merchants, brewers, wire manufacturers…
S: It’s also rumoured to have been an abortion house and holding prison but no-one is quite sure whether that’s really true. The staff at The Vaults have been nothing but enthusiastic and supportive of the event from the outset and that makes it much more enjoyable too.
Why do you do only ‘one night only’ shows? By this I mean, you could exclusively show work that will be left on the walls for a longer period. Why don’t you do that?
L: We felt the ‘one night only’ format was the most appropriate in terms of presenting work in a bar – there is far less compromise in terms of the presentation if we work on the understanding that by 5pm the next day The Vaults will be ready and open for business as usual.
S: The ‘one night only’ format has helped to fuse the art exhibition into the bar setting – it feels more like an event and adds a miss-it-miss-out element to the shows. It has worked really well so far – over 100 people came to the last two exhibiton, (February’s event curated by TROVE and March’s event curated by Holly Grange and Kate Pennington-Wilson) which we were so pleased about.
How can someone get involved with ARC to put on a show?
L: We’ve been actively approaching curators until the event gains more momentum but we’re completely open to proposals. Anyone wishing to curate a show can drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What have you got planned? What’s coming up in the next few months?
S: We’re really excited about the next few months. The next show, curated by Jenine McGaughran, takes place on Wednesday 28 April and sees a series of of text-based works, audio installations, films and sculpture celebrating the work of female artists and there’ll also be music from the ATTA Grrl DJs. Then in May we have Art Detection Services on curation duties with their 100% accurate art-detecting machines.
L: At the end of the year, we’re hoping to put together a small publication looking back at a year of ARC and celebrating a cross-section of the curatorial activity in the region.