Starting reflections on running and curating a small art gallery….

I started this blog 8 years ago in 2007, and in that time it has gone through many different identities – the main one being musings for when I was doing my PhD.  Since finishing the PhD in 2010 the blog has waned somewhat, and I have struggled to keep it sustained.

I’m now thinking I will use this platform to discuss my experiences and thoughts in relation to the new venture I am taking on, which is the running and curating of a small art gallery in Bath called the Tafari Gallery, which is in Fairfield House, the former residence of Emperor Haile Selassie I and the Ethiopian Royal family and government in exile, from 1936 – 1941 during the Mussolini invasion.

My previous post was the speech I gave at the official opening of the gallery and the first exhibition.  So over the coming days, weeks, months and years I will share my experiences and thoughts of running the gallery, which is essentially in a very large house, whose main purpose is used as a day centre for the elderly all week, due to the building being given as a Gift to the city of Bath by the Emperor for use by the aged. This is no ordinary gallery, it is a very special place of signifance for many people worldwide, for many different reasons, and I am sure I will have some interesting experiences to reflect on, challenges to navigate, and hopefully achievements to celebrate. Mainly I also want to highlight what is entailed in running a gallery for my own reflection and to keep myself on track!  

I’m not sure how often I’ll post, but I will try to make it regular.  Part of my agenda of writing about this is to start to position running the art gallery and museum as my academic research profile in my day job at the University of the West of England, as a means to build a partnership identity between the university and Fairfield House and also to access research funding for the house. I hope to write research papers and build research projects around it, to raise the profile and explore the unique learning that this space has to offer.  Running the Tafari Gallery, whose main purpose is to exhibit shows that relate to the Rastafari and Ethiopian communities, and still be appealing to wider audiences – will be unique in it’s focus and everything I am naturally interested in, so I am looking forward to this important challenge.

The launch yesterday of Addishiwot Asfawossen Zeleke‘s exhibition ‘Roots’, comprising of photography from around Ethiopia, attracted close to 100 visitors for the preview event, most of them drawn from the Rastafari and Ethiopian community from around England, as well as curious ‘English’ visitors interested to see the work, and the House, and a wide range of other visitors. I know this mention of ethnicities and cultures might sound crass, but it’s to show how different this gallery is to any other, and the diverse audiences it can attract. The launch event consisted of Ethiopian prayers and singing, Rastafari drumming and chanting, and traditional Ethiopian foods being served. As I say this is no ordinary gallery, in a far from ordinary building. It is all quite extraordinary and wonderful!

I hope you enjoy some of my reflections on my experiences, and please do leave comments, as I’ll need all the help I can get!!

In my next post I will be reflecting on the points made in a helpful webpage I found – How to run an art gallery!


Tafari Gallery - branding - small


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