Nottingham Castle: Christina Mackie 8 Mar-28 April 2013

In 2011 Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery won the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award of £60,000 to commission artist Christina Mackie to work on Commission to Collect. The award is for a Museum to commission an artist of their choice to make work to add to their permanent collection. On Friday 8 March 2013, we went to the opening of the work, The Judges III
and how well it was placed in this space…


Trestle tables were set out displaying a collection of “stuff” including photos of rocks from her trip to Australia, some with watercolour paint on; shapes of clay with glaze drizzled in parts; piles of ground clay/pigment.

It’s always great to bump into student artists/curators who have been working on a show installation or are invigilating, because they get really close to the work and artist. “What’s this about then?” I asked a young curator. She told me that whilst in Australia, Mackie had been struck by the faces in the rocks…often looming over as if judging. Once pointed out, there they were…these judging faces, evident throughout the display. But there was other stuff…ephemera too…

We went downstairs to hear Paul Dobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society talk about the work and the point of the award…He implored us not to experience the work with an attempt to understand it, as, he quite rightly said, we often do when looking at contemporary art. It was a good instruction and freed us when we returned to walk around.

We noticed details…there were carefully positioned objects under the trestles in some places. The ropes connecting the trestles were hand made from Pakistan and the artist had had them in her studio for some time, waiting for a use.cm6


I enjoyed the work. There was a film of a conversation between Deborah Dean, Director and curator of Nottingham Castle and Christina Mackie that I  watched. It provided a really good context. Deborah asked some really clear questions  (like about the faces). Some of the footage was taken in Christina’s studio with her showing some of the things she has collected there waiting for a piece where they will fit.cm3
Perhaps my favourite detail was this

An ambiguous bit of paint on the museum’s ledge, that I assumed was part of the museum  referred to in the artist’s use of paint colour.
There was a collection of catalogues about Mackie’s work. I was drawn to this one, because of the title

And felt quite excited to discover a post it note inside it, intrigued to see what had been left in by mistake…to realise it was part of the book.cm8
Read more about the exhibition and read about The Contemporary Art Society

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