Featured Curator: Melanie King

Melanie King is an experienced artist curator and founder of the London Alternative Photography Collective. She has lived and worked all over the UK, but currently resides in London. Her work is inspirational (as I'm sure you'll agree), and we're proud to have her as CuratorSpace's curator-of-the-month this April.

Which organisations do you curate for?

I am an independent curator, and regularly curate shows at Doomed Gallery, Dalston.

When did you start curating and why?

I started curating in July 2013 after graduating from MA Art & Science at Central Saint Martins, as I was impatient. I knew that opportunities were not going to be handed to me so I thought that it would be better to make the opportunities myself.

Tell us about your most recent project

I'm currently working on a project for Worldwide Pinhole Day on 27 April, and am in the midst of making plans for a London based alternative photography festival with institutions around London.

What has been your favourite project to work on?

So far I have most enjoyed creating "Space Is Ace" with fellow MA Art and Science graduates Louise Beer, Lauren Franklin and Marta Santuccio. We are all cosmologically inclined and our tastes are very in sync. We want to create events which are both highly theoretical, yet fun and engaging. We're not a fan of the tired private view format.

What is your approach to working with artists/collections?

At the moment, I tend to curate projects with a selection of artists with a common interest; space, alternative photography, glitch art etc and I also put out calls for artists who may fit in with the theme.

How do you engage the audience with your exhibitions?

Audience engagement is really important to me, and the people I work with. I want audiences to engage with the concepts in a way that isn't just 2-dimensional artworks hung on the wall. I enjoy including optics, light installations, performances, sound art etc to make the exhibition ideas more tangible and sensory.

I think that hearing artists talk about their work in an informal setting is also important to audiences understanding and interest, which is why I curate three artist talks at the London Alternative Photography Collective meetings each month, to share practical tips and ideas, and potentially to collaborate on innovative projects!

What was the last exhibition you visited?

The last exhibition that I visited was the "Astronomy Photographer of the Year" exhibition at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. I've been there for three years running, and am always blown away by what I am actually looking at. The photographs are back-lit which makes the images look very crisp, but it feels like a science exhibit, not a gallery exhibition. What I'd really like to see is the same photographs, presented in a way which inspires awe, in the same way we used to look at a masters painting in previous centuries.

Tell us about a curator whose work you admire and why

Last year, I interned for The Arts Catalyst, and wished I could have worked for them for much longer, as their exhibitions are both fascinating in terms of content and beautifully curated.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start curating?

If you have an idea, try and make it happen, and be prepared for sacrifice. I'm currently living in an ex-old peoples home in London to save money, so that I can use more of my resources to fund my creative projects.

What's next?

I'm not sure! I would love to obtain a residency with an astronomical institution or observatory...

You can see Melanie's work and find out more about her at www.melaniek.co.uk. You can read about her upcoming opportunity (and submit you work to it) at http://www.curatorspace.com/opportunities/detail/pinhole-london/54

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