Our team's favourite moments at Nottingham Contemporary
As we celebrate our 10th birthday, we asked our staff to reflect on their favourite things and moments they experienced at Nottingham Contemporary.
1. Amanda Spruyt, Head of Learning - Schools exhibitions
Did you know that each year we work with 26 schools and 4,000 pupils and teachers? Last year over 800 students presented their artworks at Nottingham Contemporary, showing their creative responses to our main exhibitions.
2. Wingshan Smith, Youth Programmer – Mika Rottenberg and Queer Club Culture
The exhibition that inspired our Youth Programmer, Wingshan Smith, to study art was our 2012 Mika Rottenberg exhibition. Rottenberg’s arresting and comically disturbing video works explore women’s labour and play with ideas of manufactured beauty. In our exhibition, the video works were housed in specially created installations, creating viewing conditions that referenced the environments featured in the video works.
As part of 1525 Collective research project into the history of the iconic queer discotheque Paradise Garage, people gathered to discuss how the LGBT dancefloor became a utopian space to express identities. This talk was followed by a voguing workshop run by the London ballroom seasoned dance artist, Omar Jordan Phillips.
3. Andy Batson, Head of Audiences & Partnerships – FOXP2
Andy’s favourite exhibition, Marguerite Humeau: FOXP2, was an immersive installation, that considered the origins of life, while also imagining a future without us.
Developed through conversations with zoologists and other experts, Humeau created a sound installation, taking the form of a “choir” of 108 billion voices, re-enacting the moment a mutilated gene allowed humans to develop language. This lead on to what Humeau calls a “biological showroom” of elephants, engaged in an elaborate mourning ritual.
4. Nicola Murray, Office Manager – Opening Weekend
Quite a lot of our current staff have been with us since the very beginning. Nicola recalls our busy opening weekend, when queues of people came to see our David Hockney and Francis Stark exhibitions, and enjoyed street performances outside of our building.
5. Mandy Newbold, Finance Manager – Michael Beutler's Pump House
Mandy’s favourite exhibition by Michael Beutler, saw our galleries transformed into a creative workshop. Channelling the spirit of DIY invention, and the disappearing tradition of co-operative labour, Beutler and his team creatively responded to our architecture using paper and cardboard.
6. Jim Brouwer, Technician (IT/AV) – Alien Radio + Sun Ra Arkestra
Jim - another team member who’s been here since day one - recalls his favourite weekend at Nottingham Contemporary. Alien Radio was an evening of Detroit Techno, afrofuturist funk, art and film, inspired by the life and works of Sun Ra. Our venue was transformed into an immersive, accessible club environment, featuring a large-scale cosmic-inspired installation by Candice Jacobs and Rebecca Ounstead. The following day, the incredible
Sun Ra Arkestra, the group originally formed by Sun Ra, gave an otherworldly performance, taking the audience on a journey through cosmic jazz.
7. Craig David Parr, Gallery Assistant - Marvin Gaye Chetwynd
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s sculptures and installations often start as handmade props, costumes and sets for her joyful, anarchic performances. They acquire an afterlife in exhibition spaces, occasionally animated by amateur actors and professional dancers. Her works here included Brain Bug and Cat Bus, inspired by Starship Troopers and by the 1988 Japanese animated film My Neighbour Totoro. They have been brought back to life in our galleries with some fully staged performances that often featured our staff. As you can see they remember it very fondly!
8. Sam Harrison, Visitor Services Supervisor – Thinking Head
Thinking Head wasLara Favaretto work, consisting of clouds of steam slowly rising from the roof of Nottingham Contemporary all summer back in 2017. Favaretto has said she wanted to turn a museum into a 'thinking machine', where the varying intensity of the steam clouds represented the levels of the thinking happening inside.
9. Katy Culbard, Programme Manager – Loudspeaker
Loudspeaker is a programme that offers free, creative workshops for women to express themselves in a supportive environment. By working with our Associate Artists on ten-week projects, women develop self-confidence, resilience, motivation and meet new people through exploring and making contemporary art.
We work with a fantastic range of support organisations across the region who refer women to us. Loudspeaker is free to attend and transport, childcare and access costs are covered. Taking part can lead onto the opportunity to be a peer mentor in subsequent projects. Our Loudspeaker programme has been successfully running since 2013 and has directly supported over 170 women with a range of needs with expert help from Changing Lives and Improving Lives.
10. Andrew Elliot, Finance & Operations Director – Loudspeaker
We think this comment perfectly sums up what Andrew said
“It’s the first time for me today – I haven’t been out of the house for over a year.... I felt valuable, included and empowered... Today has been all the things I’ve been looking for all my life – thank you.”
11. Cedric Fauq, Curator –Okwui Okpokwasili: Poor People’s TV Room
Launching our Still I Rise exhibition, the American artist, performer, choreographer, and writer Okwui Okpokwasili gave an incredibly powerful performance of Poor People’s TV Room. The sell-out performance piece questioned how we can recover buried histories, particularly of movements of resistance and collective action in Nigeria, as well as examining gender, culture, and identity.