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Friday, 14 December 2018


As we round up 2018, we ask the team at Nottingham Contemporary what their highlights have been.



Cedric, Assistant Curator

My highlight of the year was probably working with Okwui Okpokwasili and attending the wonderful and moving performance ‘Poor People’s TV Room’ – the energies she managed to summon through her movements were just breathtaking. Every time I think about it, my heartbeat accelerates. Rare are the artists able to leave such a long-lasting imprint in your bones, veins and muscles.


Mercè, Assistant Curator - Public Programmes & Research

My highlight of the year was to have a medium invited to one of the Study Sessions for Linder’s season back in April, and we had a séance! I never expected anything like this to happen in an art gallery and neither did most of the participants!


LJ, Marketing Manager

My highlight of the year was The Grand Tour, which celebrated the rich cultural offer in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. We got to work in partnership with Chatsworth, The Harley Gallery, Derby Museums, and a wide range of other venues: galleries, stately homes, archives, cathedrals, and even food workshops. It showed me the East Midlands in a Whole new way, and made me realise how lucky I am to be living in an area with so much rich culture to explore.


Sarah, Gallery Assistant

This Wednesday marks my first year working at Contemporary. Working here has changed everything for me. I got a little lost during the ‘nappy years’ in full time motherhood. It took its toll on me. Here I’ve made some new friends, gained new knowledge, seen some amazing things and I can still pick up my kids from school. I’m making/creating/thinking again. I know it’s because I come here and go away inspired. My fave thing about this year/this job is talking to the visitors. All year has been a highlight for me.


Andy, Head of Audiences & Partnerships

The launch of Still I Rise was the standout highlight of my year. A wonderful celebration of an exhibition more than 2 years in the making. We knew it would be busy, but we weren’t ready for queues down the street! It was a special night – the exhibition deserved the attention. Knowing that Nottingham Contemporary can provide the people of Nottingham (and beyond) with such thought-provoking experiences and exhibitions makes me so proud to work here.


Sam, Associate Artist

I enjoyed my first ever Schools Celebration event for the David Ross Educational Trust schools programme. Bringing together artwork made at schools across the region and seeing pupils, family members and teachers make the trip from as far away as Corby and Skegness. Working hard with the other Associate Artists to get the exhibition ready in time and sharing the fruits of the project with the world was a proud moment.


Simon, Gallery Assistant

One bright crisp winters morning in early 2018 I am sitting on the wall outside the galleries waiting for the building to open. As I wait a gentleman sits close by and we begin talking. He tells me of his plight and how he became homeless...he tells me of his first night experiences here in Nottingham...we talk about many things...difficult things and for the main part I some point I tell him how pleased I was to have this opportunity to talk with him...and I reflect back on what he has told me...I remind him of the sun...this moment...and how I hope he will be OK...I have no recollection as to what else I had said before we parted...we shook hands and I went into work...

Some six months later a well-dressed man finds me in Gallery four...he has been looking for me...he is here in Nottingham to thank me and to give me a hug...I don't ask is the same gentleman I had met previously...he tells me I had done something few had done...I listened and talked with him...and whatever else I had said he told me that he had found some hope...on that crisp winters morning in early 2018 he had returned to his home town, reconnected with his family, secured his former job, found a new home and with help turned around his life...I have no idea what my contribution was...all I know is that at Nottingham Contemporary we make a difference...we are more than an art gallery...there is a humanity to what we do and who we are... 



Posted by ljvaughan at 13:04    COMMENTS
Wednesday, 03 October 2018
By Mercè Santos Mir

As #MentalHealthAwareness day steps into the limelight for its annual day of recognition, we should ask ourselves if it ever left the limelight. Mental health awareness has become a daily conversation between friends, family, colleagues and health service providers across the country and abroad – breaking down a little piece of the taboo-topic each and every time we discuss anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and all the other conditions that fall under the Mental Health umbrella.

This Mental Health Awareness Day, we caught up with our Assistant Curator of Public Programmes and Research, Mercè Santos Mir, who has worked closely with artists who deal with issues of mental health within their practice, who put theirs and others' inner-experiences on canvas for all to see, to raise awareness and break down the barriers we face in the introverted dark of battling against a mental health condition.

Why celebrate World Mental Health Day?

Not many people know that I’ve been working in collaboration with the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) curating temporary exhibitions since 2014. My first contact with the IMH was after they invited artist Rachel Oxley to show a retrospective of her work. At the time Rachel was finishing her MFA at Nottingham Trent University and I was also finishing my MA in Curation at the same university. I had grown very close to Rachel during our studies while supporting each other through the rollercoaster of emotions that a postgrad can become. We were there for each other, at our best and at our worst. Rachel is a Nottingham based artist who deals with mental health subjects in her work, drawing most of her inspiration from her own experience living with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). DID is a complex psychological condition caused by many factors, including severe trauma during early childhood. Due to the nature of my studies and our friendship, Rachel approached me for support while putting on her exhibition at the IMH titled Realities.

Since then I have worked with artists that use all sorts of media; photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics and many other, in artistic ways to share and explore their experiences with mental health. From conditions as common as depression or anxiety to more complex medical conditions like DID or schizoaffective disorder, I have learned that each of us have our own way to overcome and move forward. I have learned that artistic practices help us channel emotions and thoughts, and that helps a great deal in the process of recovery.

World Mental Health Day is on the 10th October. This year we’re commemorating the day with the launch of the exhibition The Twisted Rode and Other Lives by artist Andy Farr. I’m working with Andy to curate a thought-provoking exhibition focused on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Post-traumatic stress is more common than we think. Andy claims that his own traumatic experiences were much less severe than those who have suffered abuse or been involved in war conflicts, nevertheless they had a profound impact on his life, leaving his career in marketing research and advertising to become a full-time artist. With help from the IMH Andy has been meeting with other people who have experience post-traumatic stress to create a series of paintings that brings their experiences to life.


Andy says: “My hope with this exhibition is to show what it is like to suffer and recover from mental health problems, to raise awareness and consciousness of the issues surrounding trauma, and to provide positive therapeutic outcomes for those directly involved.”

It’s important to give visibility to artists like Rachel or Andy, and to support the work that organisations like the IMH and many others do in the city, to appreciate the space they provide, because it’s priceless.

World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, a day of awareness and advocacy. It’s all about hearing those voices to break down the social stigma around mental health.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please call the NHS on 111 or visit NHS Every Mind Matters.

Posted by llitchfield at 9:20    COMMENTS


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