New Ways impact report published

4 October 2011

A new report on the impact of New Ways has been published. Edited by project managers Susie O’Reilly and Jim Grevatte with documentation artist Tim Brennan, the report highlights impact on visitors, professions and organisations. Download here UNLOCKING THE CREATIVE POTENTIAL OF COLLECTIONS

Field trip to British Art Show 7

4 October 2011

Twenty curators from New Ways and New Expressions converged on Plymouth for a two day field trip last week. We were hosted by member of the Plymouth Visual Arts Consortium who brought the show to the city. We saw some extraordinary work and had the chance to discuss approaches to interpreting visual art in historic settings as well as future projects. A great way to share the learning from New Ways and sow seeds for future collaboration.

New archive room unveiled

4 October 2011

The New Art Gallery Walsall has opened the newly refurbished archive room. This space showcases the archive collection and the work that Bob and Roberta Smith has created in response to it. It is a truly unique space that illustrates the collaborative approach to curatorship developed by Bob and archive curator Neil Lebeter. Their films can be viewed alongside the collection and people can play out the lives of Epstein and his family with the stick theatre. New works on the walls tell of the complex relationships within the family as well as the lasting impact of Epstein as an artist. We urge you to visit!

Visitors explore the new archive room. Photo Katja Ogrin

Forging Links launches Sandwell Foghorn

7 July 2011

Forging Links is ready to launch to the public with the Sandwell Foghorn reconstructed from archive images and now poised to tour the Borough funneling local voices and memories. For more Forging Links delights see

New Expressions visits Compton Verney

7 July 2011

Our colleagues from New Expressions in the South West came to Compton Verney last Friday to see for themselves what the team there have been up to. It was a fascinating day taking in the What the Folk Say project and meeting Laura Ellen Bacon (‘den maker in residence’) in the grounds . There was some stimulating conversations around curatorial approaches and visitor responses to the new What the Folk Say artist interventions and a chance to discuss the behind the scenes activity that make a great project like this possible. What was particularly pleasing was the enthusiasm and engagement of a group of pupils from Edgewick Community School who were in the gallery at the same time.

New Expressions website launched

26 April 2011

New Expressions is a partnership programme for museums in South West England. It pioneers sustainable collaboration with artists and audiences to invigorate museum collections, buildings and spaces. New Ways has been working with New Expressions over the last 2 years sharing experience and building a community of interest.

New Expressions enables museums to commission new work and to join forces with contemporary artists to create high quality, participative projects and compelling visitor experiences. Museums in Exeter, Plymouth, Bristol, Barnstaple, Falmouth and Cheltenham are taking part in the programme between 2011 and 2012.

Visit the site

What the Folk Say film from Bob and Neil

23 February 2011

Bob and Roberta Smith and Neil Lebeter have produced a new film as part of their documentation of New Ways. This explores the work at Compton Verney with What the Folk Say where 18 artists have worked with objects from the Folk Art collection to explore their meaning and value. Take a look What the Folk Say

Briefing sheet published

22 February 2011

New Ways has produced a briefing sheet profiling the three partner projects alongside other activity nationally which sees the historic collaborate with the contemporary. Download a copy here UNLOCKING THE CREATIVE POTENTIAL OF COLLECTIONS

New Ways Conference report

22 February 2011

January 27 saw the presentation of the New ways of Curating conference; Artist-led ‘break-ins’ hosted by The New Art Gallery, Walsall. The conference was curated and moderated by Tim Brennan, one of the New Ways’ documentation artist, who has a practice built around working with archives, history and politics through the use of the guided walk, curating and photography.

His design of the conference aimed to present 3 main areas for inspection. First among these was to enable New Ways of Curating’s artist/collection collaborations to platform their work to date through a series of short concise presentations. Each grouping was then asked to briefly consider the main challenges for both artist and organisation. The overwhelming response indicated the necessity and success of communication and the willingness on behalf of host venues to open their collections to interpretation via the exhibition and event format.

Using the above as a basis, delegates were encouraged to consider the overlapping roles of artists and curators and the various permutations (artist, artist-curators, curator-artists) and the raised media profile of the curator (in the art world) over the past 2 decades.

A series of workshops or ‘breakouts’ were offered as options to delegates. These involved Bob & Roberta Smith conducting a tour of his exhibition ‘Life of the Mind’; Julian Walker working with a group to consider the object or artefact as fragment, and Tim Brennan’s ‘walkshop’ at which he invited his group to ‘trade’ the role of guide in order to lead him through the public and private aspects of the building and its functions.

The second half of the conference saw of New Ways’ associated projects or ‘community of interest’ detail some in depth updates. These included contributions from New Expressions – in Plymouth/South West who had engaged with a city wide approach to enabling artists into the civic collections; Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery who are involving artists and their ideas in the core planning of their accommodation review, and information from the Wedgwood Trust on how artists are re-assessing their collection.

The afternoon session was equally as comprehensive in its aim to unpick further the relationships between the regulated (broadly speaking ‘museums’) and unregulated (the SME artist-curator, freelance curatorial initiatives, commercial contemporary art galleries) worlds of curating – a session that involved key institutional reflections from Frank Caldwell (Sandwell), Antonia Harrison (Compton Verney) and Stephen Snoddy (The New Art Gallery Walsall) flowed seamlessly into the final plenary session.

The conference was a success in its balance of presentation and delegate input. It was oversubscribed – the constraints of space meant that a maximum of 90 delegates could be recruited. The constitution of the 95 delegates who were squeezed in exceeded expectations and comprised national organisations including the MLA, Arts Council, Crafts Council, National Trust, TATE, Art Fund, Government Art Collection; organisations from all 9 English regions, including Renaissance Hub and non-hub museums; representatives from Turning Point; artists; archivists; curators of art; arts & heritage; independent curators and PhD students.

The overwhelming sense from the conference is the will for further opportunities to meet, debate and discussion and a willingness for more partnership and collaboration. There is sense is that old silos are being dissolved and, whilst the current economic constraints are far reaching, there is an appetite to form new collaborations to work further across boundaries.

Alternative tours of London collections

14 December 2010

New Ways at Tate Modern

Yesterday a group of staff and volunteers from museums and galleries took part in a unique series tours of famous collections conceived and led by New Ways artists. As part of the programme’s workforce development activity we wanted museum and archive staff to have an artist’s eye view on what they do.

Paul Ryan began with an in depth investigation of a single work at the Tate Modern using a semiotic approach. Bob and Roberta Smith then led ‘Bob’s Tour’ of works at Tate Modern which he is drawing upon for his Life of the Mind show at The New Art Gallery Walsall. The group then moved to the British Library to learn about the work of artist Julian Walker there in advance of his work with Sandwell’s project New Ways of Collecting.

Photographer Chris Keenan joined us and his shots will be on the site shortly.