Monday 22 February 2016

CORNELIA MARLAND       Answers a few questions

After studying Social Anthropology and Art History at SOAS Cornelia has spent the past five years working on various art projects with a focus on place, participation and community involvement. She co-ordinates and curates exhibitions and also runs a project involving collaborative mapmaking in public spaces across London. Cornelia has recently started managing Geddes Gallery, which will stay open as an alternative exhibition venue until March 2016.

Jim Geddes 
Can you tell me a little of the history of the Geddes Gallery?
The gallery space was the wonderful Italian deli, K C Continental, run by Leo Giordani, for 50 years until May 2015 when he retired. I would often shop at the deli and always loved popping in to pick up some pasta and Italian treats.
I was using an empty shop building on Caledonian Road for 'Co-ordinate', (a group show I organised based around mapping King's Cross), when I was told about hundreds of sculptures made by local artist Jim Geddes which had been stored in the basement of the deli since Geddes had died in 2009. I was completely mesmerised by the sculptures and spent the next two years cleaning and cataloguing them while also looking for a space in which to exhibit the collection. It felt impossible because no existing gallery was interested since he wasn't a well known artist and anywhere I found available to rent was ridiculously expensive. A local family who own the deli mentioned the space could possibly be used while it was empty awaiting a new tenant. It was perfect and we held the exhibition in the deli in May 2015. Due to the success of the show I have been able to run the space as an exhibition venue until it has to be renovated. It felt fitting to name the space after him.
Have you enjoyed the experience of running Geddes Gallery?
Yes! I have loved working with so many different groups and enjoyed seeing the space transform for each exhibition. However it hasn't come without its challenges, the maintenance of the old building is DIY skills have certainly improved!
Can you describe your practice in a few words?
My work involves working closely with others. I run spaces, curate shows, coordinate projects, run workshops including The Mapping Project which involves working in public spaces with local communities.
What is your earliest memory of art?
Both my parents are artists, so I grew up with art all around me. My mum was very influenced by Frida Kahlo and had posters and books of her paintings all around the house. I remember how they scared and intrigued me at the same time.
Have you shown your work in a non-white cube space before?
I love working in non-white cube spaces. I have organised shows in a few empty shops spaces and always found them to be the most exciting and engaging experiences. Walking into an old shop or house feels very different to walking into a white cube space, less intimidating, maybe less clinical. It often makes me engage with the work in a very different way.
What is the future for art outside the gallery context?
I think this is the future. Affordable spaces to show art are becoming harder and harder to find. It is interesting to see how inventive artists have to be, opening their homes up for exhibitions or using existing empty buildings. I hope this is something that will become easier to do.
What was your first experience of Kings Cross?
I rented my first flat in Kings Cross when I was 18. Even though the flat was dingy and small I loved the feeling like I was in the centre of London. I have always found the contrast between the frantic pace of Kings Cross and the strong sense of community really fascinating.
If you could meet one artist living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would have loved to have met the namesake of the gallery, Jim Geddes. I was obsessed with his sculptures the moment I saw them. They have a very human, slightly grotesque quality - I find it fascinating how they can be truthful, painful and at the same time very comical.
What is your greatest weakness?
Cheese, always cheese......
What projects do you have coming up in the future?
I have some exciting projects coming p with Actionspace, an organisation that is based at Cockpit Arts in Holborn and work with artists who have learning diabilities. We are getting ready for an exhibition at Geddes called 'Shop of Curiosity' opening 18th March. I am also working on the engagement programme for this year's Cally Festival, which takes place on Caledonian Road every year.

The Mapping Project   Holloway Road
twitter: @CorneliaMarland

Education: Social Anthropology and Art History at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), 2011


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