Contemporary Art Society Study Day

The Post-Medium Collection


2nd February 2018

Phoebe Cummings demonstration during the CAS study day.

The Contemporary Art Society invited me to put together a Study Day taking inspiration from the Collecting the Ephemeral programme.

I used the opportunity to explore a notion of the ‘post-medium collection’ as a starting place to think through ways of collecting that respond to the broad terrain of contemporary art

The title of the the day came from Rosalind Krauss’ definition of the ‘post-medium condition’, an single contemporary art work which includes an enormous variety of material and contextual considerations; multiple media and materials and ideas beyond physical objects. To Krauss’ list we might add the performative, networked and distributed as mediums and modes of presentation.

My keynote for the day argued that despite this, the notion of medium specificity has an ongoing impact within collection frameworks and methodologies. I articulated some of the issues that occur through this mis-match of artistic practice into collection, and asked what curatorial and collecting strategies approach a new relationship between commissioning, display and collecting of such heterogeneous artistic practices.

The other speakers were Dr Rebecca Gordon, Charlotte Keenan from the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool,  artists Phoebe Cummings and Ludovica Gioscia, and art historian and philanthropist Sarah Elson.

Phoebe Cummings: Model for a Common Room

Victoria Gallery and Museum, Liverpool


19th January -
23rd June 2018

Phoebe Cummings: Model for a Common Room, installation shot (work in progress, 19th January 2018)

Model for a Common Room is the first of three new Collecting the Ephemeral commissions for the Victoria Gallery and Museum in 2018.  Each new commission takes inspiration from the Museum collection or building.

Model for a Common Room takes the idea of a ‘common room’ and its design as the starting point, exploring what activity and functions (practical, intellectual and even decorative) a common space might have, and what possibilities a shared approach to making might offer.

The room in which the work is made was formerly a Women’s Common Room.  The first purpose build women’s University education space in country.  What remains intact from that time is a fire place, designed and carved by a group of female students; a quietly radical object.

Contextualising the Common Room, Cummings also explored the University architecture more widely.  The interior architecture throughout the Victoria building is  covered with ceramic tiles and features a number of decorative columns.  Cummings has also researched the collection of architectural models of the University campus made at various times as the site has expanded, and a core earth sample taken from the ground in university square; a column of information about the landscape of the same site, extending deeper back in time. The room hopes to provoke discussion around who belongs and what making might offer us in common.

Made entirely from raw clay, the work is a temporary imagining of the room, and will be added to during the exhibition through public workshops and events that invite participation in the making process.

Phoebe Cummings studied Three-Dimensional Crafts at the University of Brighton before completing an MA in Ceramics & Glass at the Royal College of Art in 2005. She has undertaken a number of artist residencies including as ceramics artist-in-residence at the V&A in London. Cummings recently won the inaugural Woman’s Hour Craft Prize (2017) and is shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Awards (2018).

Collecting as Practice Public Programme

at Delfina Foundation


8th January -
30th March 2018

Mark Dion - Thames Tate Dig (detail), 1999.

I have been invited to curate a second season of the Collecting as Practice at Delfina Foundation.  This new season brings together collectors, curators and thinkers to raise provocations around collections, museums and markets across the world. The talks programme looks at the development and presentation of collections, along with alternative ways of interpreting them through art historical revisionism and other forms of scholarship such as publications, interventions and exhibitions with a transnational perspective.

De-constructing Collections: Artistic interventions and Strategies in Museums
Following several short residencies by Mark Dion, Delfina Foundation hosts an afternoon of conversations and readings that takes as a starting point Dion’s long standing interest in examining the way museums construct knowledge through their objects and collections. The afternoon will explore his, and other, contemporary artistic and curatorial strategies to intervene in and interpret collections.

In Conversation: Mimi Brown and Haro Cumbusyan on Patronage and Social Change
On the occasion of their residencies at Delfina Foundation, collectors Mimi Brown and Haro Cumbusyan discuss their previous initiatives, Spring Workshop in Hong Kong and collectorspace in Istanbul, respectively, and explore what they might do next.

De-constructing Collections: The Colonial Past and Contemporary International Collecting
Inspired by the research residencies that form part of Collecting as Practice, this evening will explore the colonial history of collecting within the UK, the ethical status of objects in British museums, and curatorial and artistic strategies to continue to collect and create new international understandings.

Collecting Arab Art: Revising Western Art History Related to the Region and Beyond
During his residency, collector Sultan Al Qassemi uses Ala Younis’s exhibition at Delfina Foundation as a starting point to discuss the shared responsibility of artists and collectors in revising Western notions of art history through collecting and scholarship.

Collecting African Art: Developing the Market and Frameworks for the Future
This talk looks at current infrastructures to support the multiple and diverse forms of artistic production from the African continent. Prominent and emerging collectors, gallerists and curators explore the present situation, urgencies and possible futures in relation to collections, public institutions and art ecologies.

Events at Delfina Foundation, curated and moderated by Rose Lejeune.


Collecting as Practice Public Programme

at Delfina Foundation, London


20th April -
22nd June 2017

Delfina Foundation, photo by Tim Bowditch, courtesy of Delfina Foundation

I have curated the Collecting as Practice Public Programme at Delfina Foundation.  My programme considers the growing role of collections as spaces for the production, reception and preservation of contemporary art practices. Exploring the potential for collections to re-invent and create cultural histories and public knowledge, the programme seeks to address both the artistic drives behind the impetus to accumulate and rearrange materials and the social potentials for collections in the broadest sense.

Through discussion with artists-in-residence and international collectors, it explores collections as living sites of accumulated knowledge with the potential for critical and active engagement in the development of cultural identity, revisionist histories, and new narratives. This expanded notion understands collections as always embedded and operating in specific social, political, economic, artistic and personal contexts and asks how artists and collectors alike intervene and activate them.

As such, moving beyond a focus on the examination and accumulation of individual art works, the Collecting as Practice Public Programme wishes to energise conversations around artistic and radical collecting methodologies in relation to intimacy and economics, communal ownership, cultural memory and education. In doing so, we hope to unpack how artists and collectors alike are redefining the critical discourses of collecting in a global context.

Events at Delfina Foundation, curated and moderated by Rose Lejeune.

Sharing Collections 

Exploring the relationships that are formed between collectors and artists, Pedro Barbosa and Deyson Gilbert discuss their shared interest in ephemera – posters, artists’ books and vinyl albums – by conceptual artists in the 1960s and 70s that form a substantial part of the Moreas-Barbosa Collection.

Taking this collaboration as a starting point, and emphasising the potential of collecting as a site of encounter which privileges the creation of social relations between people, rather than the production and display of objects, the event will explore modes of exchange and interaction and discuss how the intimate relations might point to new understandings of the connection between art collection, production and distribution.

The social value of private initiatives and museums

Collectors-in-residence Sean Lu and Luba Michailova are founders of Sifang Art Museum (China) and IZOLYATSIA (Ukraine) respectively, two private initiatives set within very different geo-political contexts but with overlapping aims of invigorating and supporting cultural scenes for local communities. This conversation seeks to explore the public responsibilities of private initiatives and address the ways in which local cultural histories and social needs can be acknowledged alongside national and international artistic communities. The panel will ask how artists, curators and private collectors collaborate in bringing trans-national critical thinking, pedagogy and exchange around visual art into the public domain in meaningful ways.

Who Really Owns It? Thinking through ownership of contemporary art and cultural heritage
This discussion explores a radical notion of collecting that challenges conventional notions of individual ownership. Taking its departure point from research conducted by curator-in-residence Özge Ersoy, as well as recent examples of the destruction of historical artifacts, the discussion considers how social histories become embedded in the material objects of art works. With reference to key artistic, archaeological and architectural practices, the participants will interrogate how it is possible to redefine our understanding of ownership to include concepts of immaterial presence, social knowledge and the communal.

Art Fairs 

Collecting, Intimacy and the Domestic at Art Brussels emphasises the potential of collecting as a site of intimate encounter between artists, and collectors with Pedro Barbosa, Aaron Cezar, Alain Servais and Dorith Galuz, moderated by Rose Lejeune.

Private Collection / Public Audiences at art-mote carlo explores the ways in which private collectors, operating at many different scales, develop and support cultural and artistic communities in different contexts around the world with Pedro Barbosa, Aaron Cezar, and Luba Michailova, moderated by Rose Lejeune.


University of Salford

Art Collection Strategic Review


October 2016

Cao Fei, Haze and Fog (2013) Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, photo courtesy of Paul Hermann

Collecting the Ephemeral was invited by University of Salford Art Collection to undertake a strategic review of its collecting methods and priorities. Through a series of workshops with professional peers, we critically reviewed the current strategy and explored it in relation to the wider contexts of University, national and international collecting.

Through an attention to the specific priorities of the existing University of Salford Collection Development Policy: Chinese Contemporary Art, About the Digital and From the North, the workshops discussed the purpose, value and curatorial methodologies of the University Collection in relation to:

  • Acquisition strategies for experimental contemporary art
  • Collecting and presenting in the current Higher Education climate
  • Collecting and the art market
  • The specific challenges and opportunities presented by the Collection’s lack of a dedicated gallery space for permanent display

In order to benefit from external views and wider expertise, and ground the Collection within in the broader context of contemporary collecting, each workshop invited of a selection of colleagues with extensive and varied experience of: national museums, HEI Collections, commercial galleries, private collections, practicing artists and funding.

Each of the workshops explored in turn;

  • The rationale for the specific collecting strands
  • The commissioning and display partnerships
  • The relationships with artists and other key partners
  • The part in the relation to the whole and the integrity of the whole
  • The visibility of the Collection and its individual artworks
  • The curatorial expertise of the Collection’s team
  • Possible futures for the Collection


Key findings from the review are available on request.


Ben Cain: Companions

for Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool


28th November 2015—
30th January 2016

Ben Cain: Companions. Guest Curated by Rose Lejeune for Collecting the Ephemeral photo credit: Jonathan Lynch

I commissioned Ben Cain to make a substantial new body of work for a solo exhibition responding to permanent works housed by the Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool.

Selecting sixteen paintings and objects from the collection, Cain has worked with locally-based artists and craftspeople to have those works, and objects from within the paintings fabricated and introduced into the gallery as new sculptures alongside the original images. In this way, a vase in a painting is rendered into three-dimensional porcelain by a potter, or an amber glass necklace worn by a sitter in the original work is fashioned into being by a glassblower.

The new works and the originals will each be exhibited on specially-constructed stages or raised plinths, which could also be thought of as workbenches. Each plinth will collectively present a scene, as though a large, three-dimensional still-life composed from the collection itself, and the re-worked details from the collection.

The fabrications exist in an ambiguous relationship with the original paintings – on the one hand they render them into the present, creating new narratives from the originals, whilst on the other they are pretenders, fakes and imposters, illicitly inserting themselves into the collection.

The newly made objects could be considered as ‘approximations’ rather than exact copies, acting simultaneously as prototypes, dummies or sketched re-workings forged through collaboration with others, offering casts that are open to interpretation and re-interpretation by audiences of today and tomorrow.

In this way, Cain’s commission examines the process of making an artwork. Items are selected, redrawn, revisited, borrowed, rejected and worked up before the final form emerges. Frequently, attempts that are set aside are nevertheless indispensable parts of a work’s development.

Companions continues Cain’s long-running investigations into the themes of material, labour, and artistic production. The exhibition is inspired by the Grundy collection itself, which is made up of an eclectic mix of items from paintings to jewelry to ornaments and furniture accumulated over the years, frequently with little known provenance. The commission responds to the character of a museum collection as a group of objects housed in one place over the course of time, offering a way to move between the image’s content, the context within which they were made and the present and future moments of their viewing.

Ben Cain: Companions, Guest Curated by Rose Lejeune at Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, 2015 is supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts


Jefford Horrigan: Own Worst Enemy

for The Collective


19th September, 26th September,
and 3rd October 2015

Jefford Horrigan, Own Worst Enemy with Yong Min Cho, 3 October 2015, at Lightfoot Road. Part of the suite Own Worst Enemy commissioned by Rose Lejeune for The Collective.

Own Worst Enemy, a new commission by Jefford Horrigan’s work was held over successive weekends in three of the family homes of the Collective members.

Own Worst Enemy was been developed following on from a series of house visits with The Collective and the performances work with the specific contexts, design and history of each home in discrete and poetic ways.   The work was be performed amongst the usual domestic items, and amongst the existing collection, of each household as a backdrop and offer them as a site for transformation through performance.  Following the performances a series of three unique drawings and scripts from the performances have entered The Collective’s collection.

Together the individual performances of Own Worst Enemy are to be seen as a suite – a trio of works interconnected through a set of re-occurring motifs – a table, a curtain, sewing and a sound element.  Though without discernible narrative, they are woven together so as to have an internal logic that appears at the end.

About Jefford Horrigan

Jefford Horrigan makes performances and short films, sculpture and drawing rooted in the traditions of film noir and the jazz age.  He works within each of these disciplines directly and strictly and yet allows them to react off one another – creating atmosphere and environments through sculptural presences and processes.

About the Collective

The Collective is a growing network of groups collecting, sharing and enjoying cutting edge contemporary art in their homes or places of work. It was founded in 2002 in London by a group of art professionals and families interested in living with the art of today. It provides one to one professional advice, legally approved guidance and a range of activities designed to help start up and maintain an art collection in groups.

The Collective enables its members to tap into new artistic scene, offering an alternative, enjoyable pathway into the art market. Members often go on to buy work individually. Mostly, groups prioritise upcoming artists, although some have acquired works by established practitioners including Fiona Banner, Tracy Emin, Peter Doig and Paul McCarthy. New work is usually purchased only after a number of meetings with the artists in their studios or galleries.

Own Worst Enemy is supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts