Action learning

Margate: An away day and a visit to Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary, welcoming their one millionth visitor.

Turner Contemporary, welcoming their one millionth visitor.

We took the REcreative Editorial Board to Margate for an Away Day yesterday. It was a threefold opportunity – the chance to support the group through an Action Learning Set in the morning; a space to dedicate to some reflection and evaluation of the website; and the chance to visit Turner Contemporary and see the brilliant exhibition ‘Curiosity – Art and The Pleasures of Knowing’.

‘Curiosity’ is a Hayward touring show – it passed me by completely on the Southbank – and it’s only at Turner for another couple of weeks now I think but it’s well worth the trip (especially if the sun is out and you can eat fish and chips on the beach afterwards. Tick.)

Tacita Dean, Manhattan Mouse Museum, 16mm film (still), 2011

Considered, intelligent, layered, eloquent, witty and fascinating are just a handful of adjectives to describe what it’s like to spend even an hour wandering through the show and curiosity is in equal parts piqued and unpacked.  Historical displays of work by da Vinci and Galileo keep company with miniature anatomical models made from ivory, 18th century lithographs documenting strange discoveries and stranger stories, while contemporary works by Susan Hiller, Jimmy Durham and Tacita Dean among many others articulate curiosity for the 21st century.

Dean’s 16mm portrait of the ageing pop god Claes Oldenburg as he shuffles about his studio quietly dusting and rearranging his extensive of found objects, is particularly gentle and yet incredibly moving.

Action learning set, in action.

Action learning set, in action.

The morning session was my first experience of an action learning set and it was such a worthwhile thing to have offered to the board’s members, who are all variously about to start university, currently studying or now out in the ‘real world’ and struggling to find the balance between paid employment and artistic practice. My colleague and I felt quite strongly that giving the morning over to the board and their own concerns was important, for their own professional development but also, to develop this ‘space’ as somewhere where they can support each other while supporting and evolving the site.

And then in the afternoon, we gave some time to evaluating the last 12 months, which is how long we’ve had the board now, and reflecting on what’s worked well in terms of content, how we might better use social media to distribute said content and evaluating the role and success – and experience – of the board. Lots of outcomes and lots to think about. And a lot to be proud of too I think.

Add in the fish and chips, and the late-afternoon ice cream and really, it was a solidly successful day.