Collecting as Practice Public Programme

at Delfina Foundation, London


20th April -
22nd June 2017

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

The Collecting as Practice Public 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.

Directed by Aaron Cezar, Collecting as Practice underpins a year of Delfina Foundation’s programme with artists, collectors and institutions, who are conceptually and practically expanding the notion of collecting in terms of aesthetics, ethics, conservation, preservation, education and value on an international level. Delfina Foundation is the first programme to formally host artists and collectors in residence together to explore shared approaches and concerns, and the potential for such practices.

Events at Delfina Foundation

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.

Moderated by Rose Lejeune

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.

Further speakers TBC, moderated by Rose Lejeune

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.

Further speakers TBC, moderated by Rose Lejeune

Art Fairs 

Art Brussels

Collecting, Intimacy and the Domestic 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.

art-monte carlo

Private Collection / Public Audiences 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

The workshops broke down the collecting priorities set in place by the existing Collection’s team at the University and examined each in turn:

Chinese Contemporary Art

China is strategically important for the University of Salford; The School of Arts and Media already have strong links with academic organisations in the country. Nearby Manchester is home to the second largest Chinese community in the UK, and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), the international agency for the development and promotion of contemporary Chinese artists.

In 2013 the University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CFCCA, initially focusing on co-commissioning new work that would be displayed at CFCCA before entering the University Collection.

The workshop aimed to explore the ways in which the art collection can present work from China in meaningful ways to all its audiences and asking how can we facilitate Chinese artists to have a voice within the collection that is representative and contextualised.

About the Digital

In October 2011 the University opened the doors of our new state of the art campus at MediaCityUK and as such the colelcting strategy reflects that relationship and academic priority.

The collection of digital practices is a recognised gap in the North West regional museums’ collections – often due to concerns about the longevity of the technology required to experience the artwork.

This session aimed to explore the opportunities and risks in the cultivation of a potentially temporary, disparate and ephemeral collection asking how digital artworks reach audiences within the University and public context and exploring curatorial methodologies for the presentation of such practices.

From the North

As a University located in Salford and Greater Manchester this Collection priority reflects the wealth of artistic practice in the city and the North West region.  Through this collecting strand the Collection aims to address a gap in a dedicated Northern Collection and contribute to the retention of arts graduates and the visibility of the regional arts ecology through commissions and acquisitions both of recent graduates and key practitioners.

The session aimed to explore collecting as a method of cultural articulation of a place and the ways in which a university collection, in particular, can play in the development of a regional arts scene.

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

Ben Cain has been commissioned 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