UK's smallest gallery fits into a locker

Issue date: 14 May 2009

A UWE student locker: the UK's smallest  Art Gallery? What must be one of the smallest art galleries in the UK fits into a student locker at the University of the West of England.

Inspired by an idea at one of UWE's partner universities in the United States, Drawing and Applied Arts Fellow, Zoe Wyeth has created a reinterpretation of a gallery space in miniature.

Zoe explains, “The original Locker Gallery was created by Virginia Samsel, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She stored most of her artwork in her locker. As she liked to work on a miniature scale or with fabrics that could be easily tucked away, the locker was the natural place to store her work. What started off as a joke has now blossomed into a gallery that hosts a different exhibition every month.

“I thought it would be interesting to emulate this idea so UWE's Locker Gallery is an interpretation of Virginia's idea. I liked the idea of creating a shrunken space but have treated it like a normal large gallery by painting the walls white and including lighting to show off the work exhibited.

“I contacted all the students on the Drawing and Applied Arts course at UWE to see if they would be interested in exhibiting and it's proved to be really popular. We have full bookings up until the end of term with each student showing work for one week."

So far the Gallery has hosted an exhibition of Zoe's work featuring wax floral organs based around ideas inspired by 19th century woodcuts of human organs integrated with flowers. The current exhibition by student Liz Johnson explores the effects of being held captive and under constant watch using photos cocooned, mounted on plaster blocks and flashing lights. The next show by student Liam Rush explores the effect colour has on light, space and people.

Zoe has almost completed her year long fellowship at UWE and is hoping to continue teaching alongside her own artistic practice. She said, “Although I'm leaving UWE shortly I'm hoping that the Locker Gallery will continue to flourish. There has been so much interest that I'm sure with all the talent in the Faculty of Creative Arts that there would be no shortage of material to keep it going!”

Roger Conlon, Head of Academic Planning in the Faculty of Creative Arts, said, “The Locker Gallery is a great idea and I'm particularly delighted that the inspiration came from Virginia Commonwealth University as we have a range of important links that we are keen to develop with them ranging from student exchanges to collaborative exhibitions. This is a small, in scale terms only, contribution to a growing relationship!”

To see the Virginia Commonwealth University Gallery go to this link.

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