Fragmented Follies – Commissioning in an Urban Context
A temporary outdoor commission by Sam Jacob, architect and designer and principal of Sam Jacob Studio, in partnership with Wandsworth Council's Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park, London. The designer created a series of striking, abstracted sculptural assemblages, to enliven and transform the terrace of Pump House Gallery.
Inspired by the traditional concept of the folly (a structure whose purpose was to provide a visual punctuation in the landscape, while being essentially without use), Sam Jacob melds shapes and structures that reflect not only the park's architectural and cultural histories, but also its modern urban context, as a microcosm of its surroundings, in an area of extensive city regeneration.
Creating these usable forms of 'urban furniture', the project encourages visitors to explore these contemporary sculptures in any way they like, as objects to be used. Ignoring the barriers which often prevent interaction with contemporary sculpture, passers-by are invited to climb on the pieces, sit down on them or simply rest and take in the view – using their imagination and enjoying the work!
Collaboration was integral to the designer and curators' vision for the project and students from Burntwood School, South London participated in two workshops, creating 'building blocks' which became the reference point for the final design of the sculptural pieces.
Alongside and to complement the project, families and other park visitors were invited to take part in a sound activity, conducted by RCA Painting MA graduating student, Andrew Hart. Working on and around the sculptures, participants mirrored the creative process of the Follies, recording the layered sounds found in Battersea Park, to form a unique collaborative digital sound piece.
Also, Sam Jacob was in conversation with Elinor Morgan, Senior Curator at Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) at Pump House Gallery, discussing his vision for the project, his practice and the importance of accessibility and community engagement in the art institution and public space.
School of Arts & Humanities
MA Curating Contemporary Art, 2019
+44 (0)7710 018261
It was during my Master's degree in Modern and Contemporary Art, that I realised I wanted to be a curator. After working on several projects, such as a virtual rehang of a room at Tate Modern, my tutor Tom Morton encouraged me to apply to the RCA and study the curatorial. I come to curating later than most as a second career, but it is one I am so passionate about. However, my legal training has provided me with very useful skills such as assimilating information quickly, drafting contractual documentation, juggling an intense workload within tight deadlines and the ability to get things done effectively.
It has been exciting to work with emerging artists, particularly sculptors, during my studies at the RCA, and I am particularly interested in their process and how to mediate their work to a non-art audience, as I used to be.
My particular area of interest is placing contemporary art in the public realm – how art outside the institution or gallery can create a space of encounter, that invites multiple experiences with accessibility, audience engagement and collaboration as key elements. As a curator, I am seeking to engage as broad a public as possible in bold artistic interventions and shared experiences, exploring non-traditional spaces for displaying art and engaging with artists and multidisciplinary practices responsible for urban design and spatial planning, to create work which enriches the social, cultural, ecological and political fabric of the urban environment.
In my MA dissertation, I considered several models of socially engaged practice in the UK, exploring the methods of engagement, the different publics impacted by the projects and the nature and degree of their participation. The workshops which I conducted with local school students for our graduate project were an important part of our commissioning process and so rewarding for the participants and myself – I am very keen to work in this way again, building community engagement where possible, but with aesthetics and the artist at the core of the project.
- LLB (Hons) Law, University of Leicester; MLitt Modern and Contemporary Art, Christie's Education, London, 2017
- Art events assistant, The Cultivist, London, 2017; Co-project manager, Fragmented Follies, Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park, London, 2019
- 'Critical Matter', Dyson Gallery, Royal College of Art, London, 2019; 'Teaser', Darwin Galleries, Royal College of Art, London, 2019; 'Fragmented Follies', Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park, London, 2019
- Award for Outstanding Contribution to Modern and Contemporary Art Programme, Christie's Education Trust, 2017