We chat to Katie Boyce, recently appointed Senior Visual Arts Officer at Rugby Art Gallery to find out about her interests and upcoming plans.
Can you tell me more about your role as Senior Visual Arts Officer? What does a typical day look like?
My role at Rugby Art Gallery is quite varied. It mainly consists of working with artists to curate and produce a high quality temporary exhibitions programme that will develop and grow our audiences. I seek external funding to help us deliver the exhibitions and support our audience development projects as well as work with the regional visual artists to nurture the creative community. We are also very lucky to own a renowned contemporary collection that I curate and care for, including conservation, loans, new acquisitions etc.
What attracted you to the position?
I had been working at Kettering Museum & Art Gallery for about 6 years and I felt that I had accomplished all that I could there. I needed a change and a new challenge to focus on. My role at Kettering was extremely varied from exhibitions and events to education and marketing, as well as working with a historical collection and a listed building. I wanted to specialise more with exhibitions and develop my skills as a curator. Rugby were offering the ideal post, which allowed me to not only work with artists to develop an exciting exhibitions programme but also shape their growing collection through new acquisitions.
What projects are you working on or hoping to develop?
Currently I am working on our annual Open exhibition which opens in November. It will be a good chance for me to see the wealth of talent that lies within and around Rugby. These exhibitions are a great way to support local artists as well as emerging new talent and give them a platform to shout about their work.
As well as this I am working on the programme for 2018, which will lead with a theme of ‘People and Identity’. Each spring, Rugby’s nationally known collection of 20th century and contemporary British art is exhibited; curated to encourage new readings and audiences. To introduce the people and identity theme, the exhibition will tell the story of some of the artists in the collection. I am working on the project as we speak and will be carrying out the research over the next couple of months. I am really excited about this particular exhibition as it is a great way for me to delve into the stores and learn about the artworks that are held within them.
Future plans include securing a sculpture exhibition for the gallery. As an artist myself I have always had passion for sculpture and large installation pieces and Cornelia Parker have always been a huge influence to my work. Rugby has the most amazing exhibition space and I am really excited to test the boundaries and see what works in the space.
I understand you have some connections with Coventry. Can you tell me more about these and what it’s like to be working within the West Midlands again?
In 2005 (oh my god, was it that long ago!!!), I embarked on a 4 year journey at Coventry University as a Fine Art student. I loved every minute of my experience and developed my art practice dramatically – changing from drawing and painting to metalwork, sculpture and photography. Towards the end of my degree I started volunteering at The Herbert Art Gallery on their exhibitions and events team and soon into my time there an internship post came available.
My time there was extremely valuable, working closely with the team to develop exhibitions; install and facilitate events. I was lucky enough to curate my own show whilst I was there, which included my own work, giving me the confidence to have a few more exhibitions with my work. I was with The Herbert for about 18 months, before they encouraged me to apply for a post graduate degree in Museum and Gallery Studies, which I grabbed with both hands.
Coming back to the West Midlands has been quite nice as I have been able to make connections from where I left off and see all those people that helped me in my early stages of my career. Even though I have only stepped over the border from Northamptonshire there seems to be a strong buzz for the arts here and it’s very refreshing.
What do you think the specifics of this region offer to artists and audiences?
I think Rugby is very fortunate to have an Arts Development Officer (Jo Bailey), who helps artists gain the confidence to do more with their work, supporting them through a network of people that can encourage them and nurture them through their practice.
I have noticed that the West Midlands is very diverse and one region, say Warwickshire, differs immensely from, say, Coventry in terms of their art offer and the artist networks within them. So from an audience point of view, galleries are able to show this diversity within their exhibitions. I think a lot has changed within the region since I was last based here so I will enjoy getting to know all the exciting projects that Rugby can get involved in over time.
What Do I Need to Do to Make It OK? runs at Rugby Art Gallery until 4 November 2017.