NOWYOUSEEUS is a progressive online research led activist project about Identity as seen through the lived experiences of womxn of colour with afro-caribbean textured hair.
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The Hunterian Collaborative Project
Curators: Carol Dunn, Claude Chan, Hannah Braithwaite, Shalmali Shetty
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Creative Connect Talk
Guest speaker talking to Creative Connect about being a Social Justice Curator in 2020.
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Collaborative Project: Reclamation
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Cat Dunn is an eclectic mix of jewellery artist, activist, researcher/producer, public speaker and social justice art curator. She holds a BA Hons in Jewellery Design and Silversmithing from The Glasgow School of Art and is currently enrolled at both The Glasgow School of Art and University of Glasgow on her Master’s studies in Curatorial Practice(Contemporary Art). As a jeweller, her love of the Victorian Era, architecture and historic construction can be seen within her pieces. As activist and curator her work seeks to engage and create dialogue through engaging with subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, slavery, racism, and feminism, often investigating those aspects that are all too frequently hidden or misrepresented. The overall basis of her practice is grounded on creating or adding to Black Space where inclusivity and diversity are key; with her varied and diverse approaches to making jewellery; installations; and curatorial projects, the context of the work must have an impact on the viewer.
Recent curatorial works include: The Hunterian Collaborative Project, 2020; Reclamation – A site specific event with Artists Ashanti Harris and Georgia Robenstone, 2019, In Residence – POC Collective-Project Space 1 – 16 Nicholson St Gallery – 2018, New Dreams – Clarke and Fyfe Gallery, Kelvin Gallery – Glasgow University, 2016.(More info below)
Recent curatorial jewellery works include: Jewellery exhibition – New Ashgate Gallery Trust, 2019, Jewellery Exhibition – Truman Brewery, London, 2019, Jewellery exhibition – Llantarnam Grange, Wales, 2019, Degree show – Reid Building, The Glasgow School of Art, 2019, Facets – The Glasgow School of Art, 2018, #tehknelogy – Project, Space 3. The Glasgow School of Art, 2017, Thinking Through Making exhibition – Reid Building, Glasgow, 2016
NOWYOUSEEUS is an online research led activist project about identity as seen through the lived experiences of womxn of colour with Afro-Caribbean textured hair, and will grow in content and material over time. A bespoke online platform was created for NOWYOUSEEUS and comprises of newly created artworks, from international artists across a range of genres; a group audio chat inclusive of personal reflections and memories, an artists’ talk inclusive of lived experiences; a clinical dialogue with a respected Scottish dermatologist; historical context; narratives and archives; and personal hair recipe cards.
Overall, all of these elements work together to speak to the idea of identity through the experiences of black/brown womxn with Afro-Caribbean hair. The project therefore hopes to educate wider publics on the historical facts of Afro-Caribbean textured hair while introducing them to new artists inspired by, and using this texture of hair as a muse, and by doing so, it aims to break down stereotypical barriers, showing and celebrating the beauty and diversity of Afro-Caribbean hair through art, language and memories.
In/Visible, April 2020, The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, (cancelled due to Covid19)
Curatorial Team: Carol Dunn, Claude Chan, Hannah Braithwaite, Shalmali Shetty
The curators aimed to achieve an experience that welcomed and created room for conversations and discourse amongst people from a variety of disciplines.
This project focused on dance and performance, one of the most significant and developing art historical fields of this century. “A new performative turn” has emerged; strongly correlating with shifts in performance, discourses, and broader society, especially in today’s world of divisive politics. This project was carefully positioned within the current political climate, especially within the context of the Windrush generation, and Brexit, and the current feeling of imposed isolation. The curators felt it was important to explore contemporary dance and its history within a gallery space and use it as a lens through which we can better understand bodies in a gallery, and the challenges of existing within an institution or art space. What does that mean for someone who does not feel as welcomed in the gallery/space? How can we help people feel welcome?
Unravelling the related history of performance as part of visual arts, and in the process to point out and extend the boundaries of what is possible in the paradigm of art and performance today. The project hoped to introduce a new type of audience to the educational yet historical space of Kelvin-Hall Complex and aimed to break down the barriers by showing that everyone deserves the chance to be welcomed in an art setting.
In/Visible was inspired by the works of artists Jimmy Robert and Georgina Starr where the curators created a one-day event focusing on the idea of visibility and presence within a gallery space; They divided the day into four categories: a zine-making workshop, a film screening, a talk followed by a Q&A session, and the display of visual materials/ artwork and zines. They saw all of these elements working together to speak of the idea of visibility/ invisibility. The curatorial approach also revolved around the concept of hospitality and the gesture of welcoming people into a space. The curators believed creating this environment was essential.
The proposed day would have started with a zine-making workshop. This event was free but ticketed, and they were looking to involve about 20 participants, for whom stationery would have by been provided by them. They were looking to collaborate with the Glasgow Zine Library who would facilitate the workshop. The motivation behind the workshop was to allow participants an opportunity to explore the idea of visibility/ invisibility and what that means to them on a personal level.
The film screening was to be led by and (scheduled in collaboration with) Glasgow-based curator Lydia Honeybone , organizer and founder of Queer Classics film screenings series. The film screening revolved around works that pertain to the idea of queerness and performance. Drawing inspiration from Jimmy Robert’s own work as a gay black performer, the curators wanted to highlight this facet of performance art/ history and demonstrate works of other queer performers. This functioned within the concept of ‘making visible’, or present that which is often left out.
London-based Kate Coyne was due to lead the talk, the final event of the day. Coyne is the principal dancer for Michael Clark and Company (currently one of the leading contemporary dance companies in the UK) and formerly a principal ballerina. Coyne’s talk also focused on the theme of visibility and invisibility within professional dance. Speaking of her experience in many areas of the dance world, as well as showcasing the invisible labour of professional dance through behind-the-scenes footage. This talk was to be followed by a question and answer session or a long-table discussion encouraging engagement from the audience.
The visual displays and artworks for the event would in part be provided by Glasgow-based artist Ashanti Harris . Harris suggested a video work that dealt with the idea of presence and visibility through an interactive video. Not only will Harris’ presence as a black performance artist be important and significant within the context of this event, but the piece itself intended to allow for visitors to become participants and be made visible in the gallery through the artwork. The displays would have been showcased throughout the day.
The audience itself would have been diverse. The curators were seeking to engage with an audience that includes Glasgow’s dance, queer, and art loving communities, and aimed to include/ welcome people who may not feel welcome in a historically academic/ colonial space of a formal art gallery like the Hunterian. They wanted to welcome an inclusive and diversified audience who reflected the kind of practices they wished to put on display and as such, had intended to send invitations to the dance communities around Glasgow, as reaching out to their students and welcoming them into this space would have proven invaluable.
Through creating this project, the curators gained an insight and valuable experience of working within an institution and the benefits and challenges that come with that. We were able to practice curatorial and writing skills following a project from conception to its very final stages.
RECLAMATION, November 2019, Rockvilla site, Whisky Bond Complex, Speirs Wharf
Curatorial Team: Carol Dunn, Kate Holford, Grace Jackson
The aim of RECLAMATION was to disrupt the notion of safe space, as propagated by the frameworks of educational institutions. By initializing performance and interactions with the site of Rockvilla School – the ruin of a Victorian school building designed at the same time as the development of teacher training programmes of educator David Stow – we wish to pose some of the following questions to our audience: is our site of education (Stow College, named after David Stow) a ‘safe space’ for learning? Is it equal? Do you feel free to test things out in your space of learning and voice your ideas or identity? Is this the same for everyone? Why not? Are there unspoken rules that govern how you exist within an educational space? We sought to instigate these thoughts through the lenses of feminism and post-colonial theory, referring to the specificity of being a person of colour, and/or woman, within spaces of education and related knowledge-power structures.
Exhibitions have become the medium through which most art becomes known, where signification is constructed, maintained, deconstructed, becoming part spectacle, part socio-historical even part structuring device. These establish and administer the cultural meanings of Art.
As a result, exhibitions are examined more in depth with what largely remains unexplored, that is the interconnected manifestations between curators, institutions and the artists.
As curators we did not want that scrutiny on or for our own project.
Rockvilla had key elements that made the site a viable option, with a history of gender discrimination, lack of inclusion and issues of self-worth.
As such we choose to petition and work with two women artists of different backgrounds but with the same ethos of working with vulnerable women and showing them as being powerful. Our chosen artists Ashanti Harris and Georgia Robenstone had worked within the confines of gender issues, as had Kirsty Henderson at The Whisky Bond.
We wanted to create an inclusive, safe research space where each artist could attempt something new, or re-visit something that they had perhaps done historically but attempt with a different twist. Our only curatorial intervention was allowing these artists the freedom to discover and explore the site, to have the option to use movement, voice, sound or image to assist with their project.