Celina Jeffery | Curatorial Residency

During my recent visit to Wales, Mission Gallery were kind enough to create an informal curatorial residency for me in order to facilitate my next curatorial project which involved meeting artists and curators in Swansea and Cardiff.

I was born in the area and did my undergraduate degree in History and Theory of Art at UWIC, Cardiff before leaving Wales for further studies in England, followed by university teaching positions in the United States and now, Canada. I am currently on ‘half sabbatical’, which in the North American context, means I have six months off from regular teaching and administration to focus on research. My research revolves around the curation of contemporary art and I have produced over 15, largely thematic, group shows internationally.

I’m predominantly engaged with two major projects: putting together an edited anthology called The Artist as Curator to be published with Intellect and the development of my next curatorial project. Definitions and possibilities of curating thus abound. At a time when the concept of curating has become popularly applied to ‘organizing’ one’s personal spaces – from the abundance of ‘curate your wardrobe’ articles in lifestyle magazines to the recent New York Times article entitled ‘Curate Your Own Adventure’! (Nov. 14th, 2012), it is clear that both the definition and even validity of curatorial practice is wide open to interpretation. Curating cheese plates aside, I consider curating to be a form research praxis that creates a line of inquiry between history and theory of art and cultural production, and which seeks to form a nexus of discussion within a variety of institutions and social assemblages.

Mission Gallery were hugely supportive in helping be connect with artists and set up a tour-de-force of contemporary Welsh art for me in Swansea and Cardiff. When I left in 1998, I was not well engaged with contemporary art practice in South Wales: in part, because it seemed to lack presence and support through institutions and critical writing. In the era of local-global dynamics and the significance of the regional however, it’s perhaps no wonder that my visit has left me feeling amazed by the amount of activity occurring.

In so many ways, however, this presence is not simply due to the return of the regional, but the dedication and innovation of venues likes Mission Gallery, The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and G39 as well as individuals like Amanda Roderick and Ruth Cayford, who have created cultures of community as well as new venues, opportunities and possibilities for experiencing contemporary art as part of the daily fabric of Welsh culture.

Celina Jeffery
Currently in New South Wales, Australia

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