Case study: The Dispensary Gallery
The Dispensary Gallery is a research-led art gallery in Wrexham. Its dynamic programme of exhibitions and events brings together local, national and international artist-researchers, providing a supportive hub and a space to display their work.
"Our names are Chloe and Ryan. We’re currently co-curators of the gallery, working on physical exhibitions that explore artist research-led practices. We started working with The Dispensary Gallery in 2020 just before lockdown, after showing interest in curation during our BA. We both studied Fine Art at Glyndwr Art School and were lead coordinators for the degree show in our second year. We were invited to join the Dispensary by our lecturer, Paul Jones, as we both had plans to study for an MA in curation.
Our first project, The Interview Series, stemmed from the inability to exhibit physically within the space. We took the artists already lined up for physical exhibitions online, interviewing them about their practices and how they had adapted during the pandemic. However, we were limited in our ability to find new artists to work with, so CuratorSpace helped to expand our reach much further.
After using CuratorSpace we were inundated with applications. We expected maybe a dozen but ended up with nearly 100 proposals. We had to be very selective of the artists we chose but the application process was easy to set up and being able to customise the application form made it manageable to see all the answers to our required questions. With the email notification alerting us to every application, it was impossible to miss someone and leave them with no reply. Through this project, we met some fantastic artists that we still have connections with two years later.
We knew that we wanted to propose a project and have external artists join us and create a new type of dialogue about artist practice. So, when we found Curatorspace, everything was set up super-fast and effectively and the fact that the first opportunity is free of charge as a curator is brilliant. It did more than meet our expectations, it exceeded them. We also love finding new networks through the Curator listings. It offers us different perspectives of what people are doing now, both online and physically, and the spaces that are being set up at a grassroots level.
We have not only used the platform as curators, but also to grow our own audiences as artists, and during lockdown it was an easy way for students and event graduates to develop their professional networks and CV. Most of the people that we exhibit and develop networks with have been those we’ve met through CuratorSpace. Our biggest exhibition so far was a solo exhibition by Alex Billingham called Super Critical Fluids, and was directly linked to the work we did with them via the Interview Series.
We firmly believe that without that first call out in 2020, The Dispensary wouldn't have existed within the digital space and we wouldn’t be in the position we are today. We’ve had three physical exhibitions so far; two solo shows by artists from the Interview Series (Andrew Brooks and Alex Billingham) and a group show in collaboration with Glyndwr University and Llangollen Fringe Festival. The use of online spaces has also led us to develop a discourse and essays about the sustainability of these platforms and how we can make them more accessible for every discipline, not just visual ones."
You can find out more about The Dispensary Gallery on their website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can also visit them in person at 49 Regent Street, Wrexham, LL11 1PF.
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