Ashleigh McDougall was a student on MA Contemporary Curatorial Practice in the 2012/13 academic year, after studying Art History at The University of Guelph in Canada. During her time on the course, Ashleigh curated three public exhibitions and conducted sustained research into curating contemporary art in historical sites, the exhibition Seduced by Art and the curation of contemporary art exhibitions dealing with difficult or traumatic subject-matter.
As part of the Curatorial Thinking module she studied three specific places where curating occurs: The Gallery, Historic Sites and in Publications. She also curated her first ever exhibition, Occupations in The Greestone Gallery, Lincoln and wrote an academic essay for The Usher Gallery’s exhibition, A Focus For Memory. In the Curatorial Approaches module she undertook work experience at Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, and curated Aislinn Ritchie’s first solo exhibition from an open call of proposals that she initiated for the Café Table project. She also curated Mondegreen Ekphrasis, a group exhibition of MA Fine Art and Design students at The Collection, Lincoln, wrote a report on the exhibtiion, Seduced by Art at the National Gallery and wrote an essay to accompany The World is Almost 6000 Years Old curated by Tom Morton, also at the Collection.
For her final major project in the Curatorial Practice module, Ashleigh chose to write a dissertation on the curation of contemporary art exhibitions dealing with difficult or traumatic subject-matter, focussing on those referencing The Holocaust.
Ashleigh has said of her experience:
“Writing the interpretive packages for exhibitions at The Collection was great experience. It gave me the chance to use the writing skills I’ve developed over the course of my education, but provided me with a practical outlet that will be important in my future career. Thinking about new and different audiences, and putting together cohesive and complementary themes in both writing projects and exhibitions was challenging, but also represented excellent learning opportunities. Overall, planning three exhibitions while on the course was excellent practical experience for me. Coming from an academic background, I was seriously lacking in this department, and the opportunity to put together shows on my own, while in an
environment I knew would be receptive and instructive was invaluable. I was also able to pursue my own curatorial and research interests, and tailor the course requirements to fit with what I was keen to investigate and write about. ”
You can find out more about Ashleigh’s learning experience and research on the MA by looking at her blog.