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WEEK5|A Dialogue between ATLAS Arts and Summerhall

Class summary and thoughts on Summerhall visit

In contemporary art and curating, the interplay between place, community engagement, and innovative artistic strategies is crucial. Lectures by teacher Francis Davis and Summerhall’s Director of Visual Arts and Film Curator Sam Chapman deepened my perception of how art can interact with communities and spaces beyond traditional constraints (Sotheby’s Institute of Art, 2018; Art File Magazine, 2023). Francis Davies’ discussion of the nomadic cultural organization ATLAS Arts made me aware of the necessity of how location shapes art projects.ATLAS Arts facilitates a range of community-centered art projects by drawing on the unique geographic and communal context of the north-west coast of Scotland, an approach that confirms how, in the absence of a fixed space, art can engage with local environments and social structures resonate (ATLAS Arts, 2022).

In addition to the presentations and exhibitions I tuned into at summerhall in week five, I researched some of the exhibitions that Summerhall has hosted over the years, including an exhibition of David Williams’ photographs during Covid19 in 2022


Upon exploring Summerhall, a multi-arts complex in Edinburgh, I recognized that this contrasted with ATLAS Arts’ artistic activities in the remote rural areas of Scotland (Summerhall, 2024). Not only did it reveal the broad scope and multiple possibilities of the curatorial field, but it also reflected how art interacts and engages in dialogue with the spaces and communities in which it is situated. Curating as I understand it goes far beyond the traditional presentation of artworks. It is more about creating an environment that fosters dialogue and exchange, an ecosystem where the public can directly participate and feel the impact of art. This participation deepens the overall sense of community engagement and enhances the resonance of the artworks. By comparing ATLAS Arts and Summerhall, I was able to witness how the way art interacts in different environments shapes and reflects the current cultural dynamics of society (Lind, 2021; Sotheby’s Institute of Art, 2018). This contrast not only demonstrates the diversity of geographical and cultural contexts in curatorial practice, but more importantly, it emphasizes the significance of the curator’s role in building bridges between art and the public. The curator is not only a presenter of artworks, but also a cultural transmitter and a medium of communication with the community. Their work requires not only an in-depth understanding of art but also a keen sense of the needs and expectations of the community to ensure that the artwork can create a real connection with the audience. This requires us as curators to constantly innovate in order to adapt to the ever-changing social and cultural landscapes, as well as a higher level of foresight, the ability to anticipate and guide future art trends and social changes.

Random shots from a visit to some of Summerhall’s specific pavilions, including pieces that struck me as reminiscent of the pain of driving steel nails into bones, which were placed in a space that had previously served as an animal morgue


Through my practice, I have not only been able to better understand the complexities of contemporary curating but also to recognize the crucial role of art in shaping society and culture. This prompts us as curators, artists, and even audiences to be more actively involved in the interaction between art and the community, and to promote wider cultural dialogue and social participation in innovative ways. In addition, the role of modern museums is to preserve and present contemporary art while ensuring the accessibility of artworks to a diverse audience, which is an important role for curators (Anita Louise Art, n.d.). Museums of contemporary art not only present creative works but also translate abstract expressions into experiences that are accessible to audiences, while emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and interpretive challenges (Anita Louise Art, n.d.).

In my future curatorial practice, I will also carry the lessons learned from Frances Davis and Sam Chapman with me as I continue to explore ways to integrate art into the community and create more inclusive and interactive spaces through curation.


ATLAS Arts. (2022). ATLAS Arts Strategic Plan 2022-2026

Lind, M. (2021). “Situating the Curatorial”, e-flux Journal, (116)

Sotheby’s Institute of Art. (2018). Trends in Contemporary Curating. Available at: (Accessed 2024-02-19)

Art File Magazine.( 2023). “What Is Curating in Art? – Creating Impactful Art Collections”. Available online: (Accessed 2024-02-22)

Summerhall. (2024). “About Summerhall”. Available online: (Accessed 2024-3-1)

Anita Louise Art. (n.d.). “Exploring Contemporary Art in Museums”. Available online: (Accessed 2024-02-16)

First Edit
22nd February 2024


In our panel discussion, we delved into the distinction between principles and values in projects, which is closely related to art curation. As discussed by Gilda Williams in How to Write About Contemporary Art (Williams, 2014), the key to effectively communicating contemporary art is to clearly articulate these values and principles in order to guide readers and viewers towards a deeper understanding of the context and meaning of the artwork. Meanwhile, the curatorial practice proposed by Hans Ulrich Obrist in A Brief History of Curating (Obrist & Bovier, 2008) emphasises the social and cultural importance of collaborating with artists and explaining contemporary art to the public, which echoes the values of cross-cultural respect and political critique identified by our group.

In addition, we discuss how these values are applied practically in our curatorial projects, which includes integrating cross-cultural elements, political critique, and ensuring material sustainability, practices that reflect the principles emphasised by Hackman (2002) in his book Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances, which states that successful teamwork involves the establishment of shared goals and a commitment to achieving them.


Obrist, H.-U. & Bovier, L. (2008). A brief history of curating. JRP / Ringier.

Williams, G. (2014). How to write about contemporary art. Thames & Hudson.

Hackman, J. R. (2002) Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances. Harvard Business Review Press.


Second addition
5 March 2024



WEEK4|Two questions about the blog and seminar feedback

Questions about the first four blogs:

Question 1: Week 1 and 2 blogs were too descriptive as well as subjective, week 3 and 4 I revised them based on Adam’s feedback to use a more theoretical basis, should I neutralize them a bit? Would it be two extremes?

Question2:Do I need to add more visuals to increase the vividness?


seminar feedback:

After describing my personal curatorial background as well as my initial thoughts, I worked with the group to summarise 4 curatorial values that applied to my theme:

intercultural, emotional resonance, political critique, communicative engagement

At the same time, I gained some experience and inspiration from my peers’ personal curatorial theme statements. I was surprised that Fany Yuan brought to the stage such a new type of 16 personalities (MBTI) that has become almost a social calling card in East Asia. I have seen almost no exhibitions of this type in the East or West. To evoke emotions in the audience while being diverse and interesting is something she needs to consider, and the same applies to my personal exhibitions as well. According to Myers & Myers(2010), personality theory provides a framework for understanding how individuals perceive the world and communicate, which can be used to design exhibitions that reach out to different personality types. Meanwhile, Bishop’s (2012) discussion in Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship of how participatory artworks can stimulate audience engagement and emotional responses provides important theoretical support for how to evoke emotions in exhibitions. support.

Cultivating a sense of belonging and collective identity in our audiences is a difficult topic for us all. Art can be used as a tool for community building and the promotion of collective identity, which provides insights into how a sense of belonging and collective identity can be fostered through exhibitions (Kester, 2004). Being able to delve into personality type theory through an art exhibition not only adds variety and interest to the exhibition but also provides a unique way for the audience to explore and understand themselves and others.


Myers, I. B., & Myers, P. B. (2010). Gifts differing: Understanding personality type. Nicholas Brealey.

Bishop, C. (2012). Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London: Verso Books.

Kester, G. H. (2004). Conversation pieces: Community and communication in modern art. Univ of California Press.


WEEK4|Curatorial Concept Statement

Curatorial Concept Statement:
Contemporary Art and Intercultural Exhibition of Blue Prints
In preparing for this exhibition of blueprints, I am aware of the many challenges that will be faced, especially when dealing with artifacts that have deep cultural and historical roots. To ensure that the curatorial integrity of the exhibition is maintained and possible conflicts and pressures are properly managed during the presentation process, I refer to Schubert and Merrill’s (2015) Curating Under Pressure: International Perspectives on Negotiating Conflict and Upholding Integrity. It provides valuable international perspectives and case studies to guide me in maintaining curatorial ethics and integrity in the face of challenges, ensuring that my presentation of blueprints, a culturally rich item, honors its cultural values.

What specific issues would guide you?

Culture and Innovation: to explore how to introduce innovative elements of contemporary art while maintaining the traditional cultural essence of blueprints (Foster et al., 2005).

Cross-cultural exchange: to investigate how blueprints can be used as a cultural vehicle to promote cultural exchange and understanding between China and the UK.

Artists’ perspectives: Consider inviting contemporary artists from China and the UK to participate together to demonstrate how they interpret and make innovative use of blueprints.

Audience Participation: Drawing on Bourriaud’s theory of social interaction between artworks and the audience in Relational Aesthetics (Bourriaud, 2002), interactive sessions are designed to allow the audience to learn not only about the history and techniques of blueprint fabrics but also to experience the process of their contemporary art creation.

Ethics and Sustainability: How the exhibition embodies the ethics of conservation and sustainable development of intangible cultural heritage (Marstine, 2011).


Why are these issues so pressing?

Chinese intangible cultural heritage, such as blueprints, not only represents the history and identity of a culture but also faces the risk of disappearance and oblivion in the process of modernization and globalization (Smith, 2006). With changing lifestyles and the rise of industrialized production, the transmission of traditional handicrafts has been challenged (Zhang & Sun, 2014). In the context of globalization, cross-cultural exchanges have become more frequent, and the preservation and inheritance of culture are facing new challenges and opportunities (Kurin, 2007). Contemporary art not only focuses on the form and connotation of art itself but also pays deep attention to the interaction and influence between art and society and culture (Hesmondhalgh & Saha, 2013). By incorporating traditional elements, contemporary art offers a way to innovate and preserve these heritages, promoting vibrant cultural exchange and sustainable development (Bortolotto, 2012). Therefore, exploring how to respect and preserve traditions while exploring their new roles and meanings in contemporary society has become an urgent question to be answered.


How would you actively encourage change?

Interdisciplinary co-operation
Interactive experience design
Digital display

As the ‘Documenta’ art exhibition has shown, contemporary art can explore important socio-political issues including globalization, post-colonialism, and environmental issues. This exhibition of blueprints will draw on the practice of ‘Documenta’ to explore the relevance of blueprints to these global issues through art, encouraging the public to consider the role and challenges of traditional crafts in contemporary society. At the same time, ‘Documenta’ emphasizes dialogue and understanding between cultures. As an intangible cultural heritage that carries rich cultural and historical information, a blueprint can also be a medium for cross-cultural exchange. I can thus show how blueprints are understood and recreated in different cultures and times, and their significance in the context of globalization today. (


Who would you collaborate with to facilitate this change?

Partners include local and international artists, museums, educational institutions, community craftspeople, and technology companies from different disciplines, exploring the fusion of tradition and modernity in blueprints. This interdisciplinary collaboration aims not only to pass on the skills but also to create an immersive experience for the audience through new technologies such as AR/VR (Schubert & Merrill, 2021).


How would you ensure that these changes had longevity?

Academic research: utilizing postgraduate status to undertake in-depth research exploring the significance, conservation, and contemporary adaptations of this type of heritage, contributing new insights to the academic field and the wider community.

Interdisciplinary collaborations: working with different departments such as Anthropology, Art, and Technology to explore innovative approaches to conservation and contemporary artistic expression.

Utilizing University platforms: utilize the University’s exhibitions, conferences, and digital platforms to showcase your findings and the cultural importance of your subject to a wider audience.

Community engagement: work with communities and craftspeople to document their stories and crafts, ensuring their active participation and benefit from their knowledge.

In his work ‘The Ethics of Dust’, Jorge Otero-Pailos explores the ethics of cultural heritage preservation through artistic means, demonstrating how cultural preservation can be creatively integrated with contemporary art. Drawing inspiration from this case, my exhibition will demonstrate how blueprints can be preserved and handed down through the means of contemporary art, ensuring that this intangible cultural heritage can continue to develop and maintain its cultural value in the context of globalization.


What would be your guiding principle?   

Respect and safeguarding: Ensuring a deep understanding of and respect for the intangible cultural heritage, while taking measures to preserve its originality and authenticity.

Education and dissemination: conveying heritage’s cultural and historical value through exhibitions, raising public awareness and educational value.

Innovation and integration: exploring new ways of combining traditional culture with contemporary art to promote innovation and sustainable development of culture (Marstine, 2017).

Participation and Sharing: Encourage community and audience participation to promote cultural exchange and knowledge sharing.



Bourriaud, N. (2002). Relational Aesthetics. Les Presses du Réel.

Bortolotto, C. (Ed.). (2012). Intangible Heritage and the Museum: New Perspectives on Cultural Preservation. Left Coast Press.

Foster, H. et al. (2005) ART SINCE 1900: MODERNISM, ANTIMODERNISM, POSTMODERNISM. Canadian Art 22 (2) p.36-.

Haines, C. (2021) Curating Under Pressure: International Perspectives on Negotiating Conflict and Upholding Integrity, Janet Marstine and Svetlana Mintcheva (eds). Journal of curatorial studies. [Online] 10 (1), 135–138.

Hesmondhalgh, D., & Saha, A. (2013). “Race, Ethnicity, and Cultural Production”. Popular Communication, 11(3), 179-195.

Kurin, R. (2007). “Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in the 2003 UNESCO Convention: A Critical Appraisal”. Museum International, 59(1-2), 66-77.

Marstine, J. (2011) The Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics: Redefining Ethics for the Twenty-First Century Museum. 1st edition. [Online]. Florence: Routledge.

Smith, L. (2006). Uses of Heritage. Routledge.

Zhang, Q., & Sun, Y. (2014). “Innovation in Traditional Craftsmanship: Case Study of Chinese Blue and White Porcelain“. Journal of Design, Business & Society, 1(1), 35-50.



WEEK3 | Anatomy of an artist-run arts organisation and seminar feedback

Individual studies

I have spent the last week researching several artist-run spaces such as Big Shop Friday, The Lab, and Mercy Pictures who, through their unique innovation and independence, have demonstrated an effective challenge to the traditional model of arts organizations in the field of contemporary art curation. These spaces exemplify the decentralized tendencies and grassroots initiatives of the art ecosystem, promoting community participation and democratization of art practice. However, as Bishop (2012) points out, exploring participatory art and audience politics provides an important lens through which to understand how these spaces foster and inspire creative communities (Bishop, 2012). Further, Kester’s (2004) concept of ‘dialogue work’ highlights the importance of communication between artists and communities, providing a theoretical underpinning for analyzing how artist-run spaces can contribute to dialogue and community building through artistic practice (Kester, 2004). However, is this dialogue and communication always equal and two-way? Do artist-run spaces sometimes unconsciously reproduce the very power structures they seek to resist? Lippard’s (1997) exploration of the trend toward dematerialization of the art object further challenges the traditional modes of operation of art institutions (Lippard, 1997). By offering flexible and varied programs and exhibitions, these spaces exemplify the complex relationship between art and the social and economic environment in which it interacts. However, is it possible that this dematerialization may lead to a decontextualization of artistic practice, thus depriving art of its socially and politically critical edge?

To gain a deeper understanding of these issues, I have recently undertaken research such as the Hidden Project which demonstrated the positive impact of participatory art on community engagement and health research. Developed by Greater Manchester charity Made by Mortals, the project aims to enable people with lived experience of health conditions to express themselves through the co-creation of audio clips. This approach emphasizes the potential of the arts to promote community engagement and raise health awareness, but I think it also has limitations. Whether participatory art can achieve the elevation of the voices of marginalized groups needs to be supported by more empirical research. Secondly, the impact evaluation of the project should be more transparent and extensive to better understand its long-term effects and sustainability. Nonetheless, the Hidden project provides me with an interesting example of how art can be used as a way of exploring and addressing health issues. (Made by Mortals, n.d.)

In this week’s readings, Alberta Whittle’s concept of “capricious curation” provided me with a unique perspective on how artist-run spaces and participatory art projects can challenge existing power structures and contribute to social change. Through her practice, Whittle exemplifies the importance of inclusivity, rest, and political participation in curating, not only to elevate the voices of marginalized groups but also to stimulate broader social and political dialogue (ArtReview, n.d.). I realized how I could incorporate these principles into the curation of my own exhibitions to challenge the traditional modus operandi of arts organizations and pave new avenues for community building and political engagement. Whittle’s work RESET and its discussion in Trebuchet Magazine demonstrates how she uses art as a means of addressing global challenges and promoting social dialogue (Whittle, 2020; Trebuchet, 2020). This reflects the application of her concept of ‘curatorial capriciousness’ in practice.

seminar feedback

In the third week of discussions, our group explored our experiences of participating in other exhibitions and reflected on our upcoming curated exhibition. Including, but not limited to, themes such as Personality Analysis in 16, Harmonious Coexistence in Nature, etc., feedback from our tutor Adam revealed that we need to further deepen our understanding and expression of these themes. This included a deeper identification of forms and themes, a rigorous demand for quality research, and the importance of ensuring that our project was in effective dialogue with contemporary art. This feedback prompted me to reflect that, although my initial intentions were positive, greater attention must be paid to the depth of research, the social impact of the exhibition, and the innovation of the art when curating the exhibition (Chilton & Leavy, 2020)



ArtReview, n.d. “Alberta Whittle’s Political Project of Remembering.” Available at:

Bishop, C. (2012). ‘Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship’, London: Verso Books

Chilton, G. & Leavy, P. (2020) ‘Arts-Based Research: Merging Social Research and the Creative Arts’, in P. Leavy (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research, 2nd ed, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: (Accessed: 1 February 2024)

Lippard, L. R. (1997). ‘Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972’, University of California Press

Made by Mortals. (n.d.). Hidden. Available at: (Accessed 2 February 2024)

Kester, G. H. (2004). ‘Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art’, the University of California Press

Trebuchet, 2020. “Alberta Whittle: ‘I Felt the World Unravelling’.” Available at: (Accessed 4 February 2024)

Whittle, A., 2020. RESET.  Available at: (Accessed 4 February 2024)



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