Life in The Hive with our gallery curator, Tom.

Life in The Hive with our gallery curator, Tom.

Welcome to LifeInTheHive… 

…our blog to provide insight to the inner workings, inspirations and individual stories that make up The Hive. This autumn we want to share with you the inspiration behind the curation of The Hive’s Art Gallery. Making sure there’s something new and interesting to see at The Hive all year round is Tom Hayes, a Project Manager and Gallery Facilitator. Tom has taken some away from his desk to talk about all things that inspire him and the new exhibitions he is excited to see.  

Morning Tom! First things first, are you are coffee or tea person?   

I’m quite partial to a good fix of caffeine from either, but I like coffee in the morning to pep me up and tea in the afternoon to wet my whistle! I’ve just had my third latte (no sugar and an extra splash of milk if you’re offering… 😏) so just about ready to climb up the walls and scale the ceiling now 🙂 

What does a ‘curator’ do exactly?   

A curator is someone who manages a collection of artworks or artefacts in a gallery or museum, and who organises how best to use the space and time to display the objects to reveal their stories to others.  

As the gallery at The Hive is a modest space and we offer a variety of activities and projects throughout our venue, I act as a facilitator of exhibitions and engagement with the artworks.  We are in a unique position to offer insight to our project participants and venue visitors about the pieces being exhibited

Tom curating the latest exhibition at The Hive

Can you tell us more about your first experience with Art?   

Probably sat in front of the telly watching Blue Peter with toilet rolls and sticky tape! I used to love that! I’m attracted to the magic in the mundane, finding beauty in places where you’d least expect it, and how just a bunch of ‘stuff’ can evoke visceral emotional responses in us all. Through this experience that we find the connection to others that we all need. 

What is the most challenging part of your role?   

Much of my time is spent managing our wellbeing projects and supporting our participants. It can be challenging to keep on top of things. On busy days, like our recent Street Festival it can feel like we don’t have enough hands or time for everything that needs to get done. We are looking for volunteers who can help us in many ways, so we’d love people to reach out to us if they would like to support The Hive’s gallery exhibitions and engagement programme. 

We’ve exhibited a broad range of art in The Hive’s Gallery space this year. How important has Art been to people during the pandemic when they cannot visit a gallery in person?  

It seems to me that during the pandemic there was a boom in people exploring their own creativity and the art of others. The time we spent outdoors became precious. Many creations popped up in people’s windows, gardens and unexpected public places in their community. With children being schooled at home, parents realised that creative activities were an important part of a young person’s development and spent time engaging their kids in a creative and fun way.  

When all arts venues were forced to close their doors temporarily, we took the opportunity to revamp The Hive’s gallery space. When we reopened last summer we were so proud to offer a town centre gallery café bar with a beautiful outdoor botanical courtyard, just a short walk from the high street shops.

A quick walkthrough of The Hive gallery

What medium of Art are you most engaged by and why?   

I’m interested by all types of art, though my background is in ceramics and sculpture so I lean more toward the tactile. Ceramic objects also often blur the line between art, design and craft, which really fascinates me. Environmentally conscious art is also something particularly close to my heart, and maybe another reason why clay as a medium initially drew me in due to its elemental and natural qualities. Most people stopped making mud-pies when they were a toddler but I just carried on!! 😂 I’ve also got a great deal of respect for new art forms that challenge more traditional and resource-heavy artforms such as installation and video art. 

What opportunities are there for local artists at The Hive?  

Lots is the answer! Our venue is a creative hub as well as professional gallery space with dynamic inclusive exhibitions. We encourage everyone to get involved in our wide range of creative and cultural activities. The Hive’s gallery is always open to receiving applications from artists to exhibit their work and engage with the wider community. If you are a new artist, we would love to hear from you. We have opportunities to deliver creative workshops to the public or as part of wellbeing projects. 

Which exhibition are you most excited about coming to The Hive?  

I’m excited by all of our upcoming exhibitions this Autumn, and we’ve got a lot going on, so I shall give you a quick rundown! 

I’m really looking forward to the exhibition, Life, that we will be hosting by our super-accomplished artist and Hive Patron, Charlie Adlard. His show will feature both hand-rendered sketches and digital sketches done on an iPad, all produced during our open-access Tuesday evening Life Drawing classes before the pandemic. These have been consolidated into a book and Charlie will be signing copies on the launch night, with all proceeds generously being donated to The Hive. 

In addition, we also have an exciting retrospective exhibition by John Wragg in September titled Alternative Spaces: Paintings, Prints and Constructions, which explores perspective, geometry and higher dimensions through colourfully abstracted 2D and 3D works. In October we have Monument to the Vanquished, a Meadow Arts project by Leah Gordon and Annabel Edwards, an exhibition and interactive project where the artists explore how the historic events of land enclosure and the resulting struggles ended people’s rights to land; and show that what started in the 16th century, still impacts the landscape and its access today. We are honoured to bring the Windrush Exhibition Telford & Wrekin to Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery in October for Black History Month, displaying the portrait photographs and stories of Windrush elders who made such a huge contribution to our country after WW2. Finally, in December we will be launching our second Wellbeing Projects Showcase fundraising event and supporting exhibition, celebrating the creations and achievements of our superstar project participants. 

Tom getting a little bit of help with the curation process

Thanks for chatting today Tom. If someone wanted to become a curator, what should they do?  

Thank you too, it’s been a pleasure 😊  

I’d say the first thing to do is visit galleries, museums and any exhibitions that spark an interest, and ask lots and lots of questions! Find out as much as possible and speak to as many people as you can. Curators have an important role to play in helping artists communicate their message to the world. 

If you would like to what exhibitions are coming up in The Hive’s Gallery space, you can find all the listings in our autumn brochure. Or alternatively, you can grab yourself a copy at The Hive! We are open Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 4.30pm.

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