I am very excited to be launching the brand new Interpretation Matters website today!
Dedicated to discussing all aspects of written interpretation in art galleries, the new Interpretation Matters website intends to kick-start a national conversation about written interpretation practice. Aimed at visual arts professionals – and reaching out to the gallery-visiting public – Interpretation Matters will host multiple perspectives, opinions, resources, case studies and research in order to explore complex questions, such as:
- How effective are current techniques and can they be improved?
- How much “artspeak” or jargon is just right, too much, or not enough?
- Which part of the audience should it be written for?
- What impact do other interpretative methods have on the production of written texts,
Interpretation Matters launches by publishing thoughtful essays from:
- Curator Simon Martin, who shares his perspective on gallery texts, and explains how they are produced at Pallant House Gallery.
- Artist Alistair Gentry, who shares his insights into the role of art texts, and why he thinks they are so often “going for the high score in a game of Scrabble instead of communicating ideas“.
- An essay from me which argues that good writing is the key to good interpretation.
Interpretation Matters invites entries for two regular features, the Good Writing Citations and the Tortured Language Alert! Humour is of course encouraged, but the serious aim is to provide useful feedback to the sector, and avoids “naming and shaming” by not publishing the institution name in Tortured Language Alerts. You’ll have to look at the site to find out who is the winner of the Good Writing Citation #1!
In the next few weeks, the site will feature:
- An interview with Northern Art Prize nominee, artist Emily Speed, on how interpretation is created for her exhibitions.
- A case study each from project partners, The Hepworth Wakefield, and Arnolfini, Bristol.
- A curatorial perspective on texts in galleries from Sara-Jayne Parsons, exhibitions curator at the Bluecoat, Liverpool and project partner.
Interpretation Matters is conceived by me, and is funded by Arts Council England. I am proud to have project partners Arnolfini, the Bluecoat, and the Hepworth Wakefield.
It has grown out of my view that text panels are such a visible interface between the viewer and the artwork, but there has been little discussion about how these panels are produced or how well they work. I want to shine a spotlight on this area of gallery practice, and bring it into more open debate, with the active involvement of curators, artists, gallery educators and the public.
There are a range of ways to get involved. Anyone can give their opinion by commenting on the site, or send examples for our Good Writing Citations and our Tortured Language Alerts – see details of how to do this here. I also welcome contributions of research, resources, case studies and writing from guest bloggers with informed opinions. And finally, you can subscribe via RSS feed to get regularly updated content.