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Blog - Leah Jones

How I Curate: The ‘Big Idea’


Hi everyone, it’s me Leah. In March I started this blog series where I will be sharing with you a little bit about myself and how I curate. Last time, I blogged about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting not only my work as a curator, but also my life more generally.

This is my inclusive curating draft plan for Edgeworkers. It’s based on a person-centred planning tool called PATH.

In this blog I am going to talk about coming up with exhibition’s “big idea”. The big idea is something Jade introduced me to as a way of helping me to figure out what the driving force of my exhibition will be. The concept of a ‘big idea’ was developed by exhibition consultant Beverly Serrell as a way of promoting clarity when making exhibitions. Serrell says that “a big idea will clarify, limit and focus the nature and scope of an exhibition” and a big idea is a ‘big idea’ because it “fundamental meaningfulness”.

With this in mind, and after some research, I have been focussing on the idea of ‘being taken seriously’. This is something has really interested me over recent years when starting my own business and getting engaged. Being a self-advocate and a member of self-advocacy group Halton Speak Out, I know lots of people who have learning disability don’t always have their hopes or dreams taken seriously. I sometimes look at my life and think about my friends who may feel this way. It can feel like we are not trusted to do things for ourselves or that we are able to make decisions. It reminds me of the saying ‘to be wrapped in cotton wool’. To me, being taken seriously also means being supported try new things. In other words, to take risks.

My big idea is therefore about risk. What does it mean to take risks as a learning disabled person? What does it mean to take risks as an artist? The title of my exhibition will be Edgeworkers. Edgework is a word that describes voluntarily working at the ‘edge’ of your abilities and fear. In the exhibition, I’d like to explore how people with learning disabilities are encouraged and supported around taking risks, looking at doing new things, and over-stepping their boundaries. Does this enable us to grow as a people and as artists?

I’d like to hear people’s thoughts on what it means to take risks or ‘edgework’ to them, comment below!

Until next time, stay safe. Leah

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