Tanya Raabe-Webber on co-curating ‘The Artists of the West Midlands: A New World’

"I was very excited when Project Ability asked me to co-curate this exhibition with them.

The Artists of the West Midlands: A New World is an exhibition of the work of five learning disabled, and one non-disabled, artists who I have been mentoring and supporting back home in Shropshire and Birmingham.

The artists all have their own unique style of working and the themes are all very different too. There are landscapes, mood landscapes, trains, motorways, Japanese gardens, portraits, and abstract forms. Curating this exhibition meant that I had to really look hard to seek out the connections and relationships that were present in the works so that each artists work complimented the others.

I worked very closely with Heather, Project Ability's Exhibitions Coordinator on this. We unwrapped and laid the artwork around the gallery, stood back, looked, moved the work around into different positions and talked about the artists’ work and creative processes. This gave us a kind of story to tell; the artists’ journey in their creative professional development as they made their work over the last 12 months, as part of their mentoring and for this exhibition.

This is the first time that the artists have exhibited outside of the West Midlands in a professional gallery. It was important that the exhibition shows a strong cultural identity as well as showcasing the artists’ creative and artistic development through the mentoring.

The artists themselves will be visiting their exhibition 22-25 February through an Arts Council England and Lottery funded cultural exchange trip #Take6. I can't wait to see their reactions when they see their exhibition."

The Artists of the West Midlands: A New World continues until Saturday 25 February, open Tues - Sat 10am - 5pm.

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