Curated by Nouha Hansen and Crista Popescu, our MArch students who also run Westminster Architecture Society, the exhibition features over 40 pieces from both beneficiaries of the Architects Benevolent Society, as well as its valued supporters.
We asked Crista and Nouha to tell us a few words about this project and their curating experience.
OSW: Hi Crista and Nouha! Could you tell us a bit more about how you got involved in this project?
Crista: Two years ago, in my final year of bachelor’s degree, I saw an AJ article about the Architects Benevolent Society and their call for volunteers. At the time, it was a casual conversation between a few of us in the studio that if we move to London we should help. When I eventually did move, I contacted ABS and went to meet them. They’re lovely people, a pleasure to work with, and the work they do is admirable! Nouha joined me not long after and we’re hoping we could make more students aware of their existence. They’ve been around since 1850 and they exist to help architects and their families, so for us it is a worthy cause to support.
OSW: Was this the first time you’ve curated an exhibition, and how was that experience for you?
Nouha: We are currently working on OPEN2017 with our studios. We both have earlier curated end of year shows, which was a comparable experience. The Westminster Architecture Society has also previously curated an ‘open source’ field trip exhibition with photos from the 3rd year trip to Venice.
This time is was a matter of working in a smaller team, just the two of us on the design and delivery aspect, but with the support of the ABS team. It was interesting to see the concept evolve gradually as we received more and more contributions, even last minute. We wanted to showcase the memories of London the artists and beneficiaries shared with ABS in the best way possible, as it felt very personal. Personally, sharing in their memories and thoughts has given me a stronger relation to London.
OSW: How did you go about choosing the architects/artwork for the exhibition?
Crista: The exhibition features art work from both beneficiaries and supporters of the charity. One of the aims of the event is to promote the charity to more people in the profession, so we thought launching open calls and acting as ambassadors ourselves would achieve this. ABS launched an open call in March, and they thankfully received many lovely contributions from past and present beneficiaries. We also asked a few of our friends if they would like to contribute, as we were keen for the event to reach students/recent graduates as well. However, our warmest thanks for her support go towards the ABS President, Angela Brady, who was an excellent ambassador for the charity and her open call towards her network attracted significant support. She even contributed herself to the exhibition with two stunning glass pieces.
Once we had everything we decided on showing most of the artwork received as they are truly wonderful, and to us not just pictures, but little snapshots of someone’s life. All other memories were collected into dedicated presentation boards. For example, one of the beneficiaries, John Rae, wrote us a lengthy letter recalling the Festival of Britain in 1951, working with Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, and having water fights with Cedric Price – it was only fitting for us to try and share these stories in more detail on the boards.
OSW: Do you have a favourite piece in the exhibition?
Nouha: It is so difficult to choose one favourite as the contributers’ styles, scenes and memories are all unique tellings about specific experiences in the lives. I feel like I connect with each piece in a different way!
Crista: I agree with Nouha! It was lovely to get to know each piece and each artist’s story, and it makes it difficult to choose! A few that pop to mind? This lovely collage of Leighton house made from leftover lace and ribbons from the beneficiary’s two daughters since they were little, Chris Wilkinson telling us about the gas holders at King’s Cross, or a photo collage by Andrew Carr of his son coming down the stairs in their family home.
OSW: Are there any upcoming projects of a similar kind that you’re working on?
Nouha: For now, the focus is on OPEN2017, which we hope will be a succesfull and enjoyable event for everyone.
Crista: We will continue to be involved in the Westminster Architecture Society and Architects Benevolent Society, and it’s likely that we will organise other types of events. In April, ABS launched AnxietyArch, so we’re planning a separate release for students at the start of the next term. We also would like to continue organising the lecture and symposium series through WAS next year. I’ll just take this opportunity to also invite more students to get involved, either in WAS or ABS. It’s a rewarding process and it enriches one’s university experience !
PS: Thank you again to the wonderful team at ABS for their support and collaboration, and a special thank you to Angela, Reema, Mark, and Katie!
The works come from across the architectural community, including Chris Wilkinson, Jane Duncan, Cristophe Egret, Angela Brady, Yvonne Farrell, Sir Andrew Derbyshire. The artists kindly donated their work to the charity and it’s now on auction on the following web-site:
Each piece is unique, created for the occasion, and they’re all accompanied by a short story/memory from the artists themselves, recalling personal experiences or thoughts.
The exhibition is on from 7th until 30th June, opened weekdays from 1pm-6pm, at Brady Mallalieu Architects.
Address: Studio D, 400 Caledonian Rd, London N1 1DN
This exhibition is part of the London Festival of Architecture!! Don’t miss it!
Photos: Courtesy of Architects Benevolent Society
About Architects Benevolent Society:
In the autumn of 1845 a small group of architects met in the Freemasons’ Tavern on the south side of Great Queen Street, between Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Drury Lane, to consider setting up a fund for the relief of the more unfortunate members of their profession. Since then, the Architects Benevolent Society has been helping helping past and present members of the wider architectural profession, and their families, in times of need.
ABS helps architects, architectural assistants, AT professionals (architectural technologists and technicians) and landscape architects who have worked in the UK – and their families.
Do get in touch: http://absnet.org.uk/do-you-need-help