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FIRST LOOK

David Kohn designs Turner Prize exhibition as part of Hull City of Culture

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The practice’s designs are tailored to the artists’ work installed at the Ferens Art Gallery, including that of the 2017 winner Lubaina Himid

David Kohn Architects has designed a series of spaces around the work of the four artists shortlisted for the 2017 Turner Prize – Hurvin Anderson, Andrea Büttner, Lubaina Himid and Rosalind Nashashibi – which ranges from painting to wall-based and sculptural installations to film. Since 2016, the Turner Prize exhibition itself has been judged as part of the award, and the practice worked closely with curators Sacha Craddock and George Vasey to support the installation of the artists’ work in a sequence of rooms at the Ferens Art Gallery, which range from formal Neoclassical 1920s galleries to a 1990s extension. 

The Turner Prize is awarded annually to an artist born, living or working in Britain, for an outstanding exhibition anywhere in the world in the previous year, and  this year the age limit of 50 was removed. This year also sees it being presented at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull as part of the UK City of Culture 2017 programme, following on from the decision in 2011 to stage the prize outside London every other year.

A Grade II-listed Neoclassical landmark with a ring of seven toplit galleries, the gallery opened in 1927 and was funded by local industrialist and MP Thomas Ferens. A key early decision taken by the curators was that the exhibition should not be confined to the peripheral temporary display spaces, but become central to visitors’ experience of the Ferens. This required the temporary removal of some of the permanent collection to make way for a new organisation of the plan and sequencing of spaces. 

The practice designed elements that range from acoustically isolated black-box viewing spaces to a Neoclassical console, in a series of moves which worked both with the artists’ specific artworks and the architecture of the surrounding gallery. The exhibition continues until 7 January 2018.

005 dka turnerprize willpryce 08 copy

005 dka turnerprize willpryce 08 copy

Source: Will Pryce 

Architect’s view 

We worked closely with the Turner Prize curators to support the artists in situating their work within the sequence of chosen rooms. These included both 1920s Neoclassical gallery spaces and 1990s spaces. The choice of room reflected the nature of each artist’s work. Anderson and Büttner’s work, being paintings in the first instance and predominantly wall-hung installations in the second, were most suited to the 1920s galleries. Himid’s predominantly sculptural installation and Nashashibi’s films were best suited to the larger span spaces of the 1990s extension. Lastly, the octagonal Central Court was also repurposed as the entrance hall of the show where films of the four artists would be shown by way of introduction.

David Kohn Architects’ design work ranged from entirely new spaces to individual pieces of furniture with the overall ambition of creating a coherent and engaging exhibition experience. The installation of several works needed technical solutions such as Büttner’s Fabric Wall (high visibility yellow) that was required to fit perfectly within the width of one of the 1920s galleries. In each case, defining the relationship of the artwork to the varied architecture of the building was critical. The eventual placement, form and material of each setting was specific to these varied conditions. For the Central Court, a console with Neoclassical overtones was designed to allow visitors to sit and watch the films in comfort. The most involved piece of design was the creation of two screening rooms to present Nashashibi’s films Electrical Gaza and Vivian’s Garden. Installed in one of the two 1990s octagonal rooms, the acoustically isolated spaces create a small building within the gallery as though arriving at a cinema in a public space. The intervention gave the artist the opportunity shape the reception of the films in a new way.

In order to facilitate the conversations between artists, curators, exhibition producer Sara Black and the design team, a 1:20 scale model was built in the studio with each work and its conditions recreated in miniature. This allowed the shaping of the exhibition to happen in real time and with the direct involvement of all stakeholders.

David Kohn, director, David Kohn Architects

220 171128 section 3 copy

220 171128 section 3 copy

Source: David Kohn Architects

Section

Project data

Start on site 5 September 2017
Completion 25 September 2017
Architect David Kohn Architects
Client Hull 2017 UK City of Culture
Curators Sacha Craddock, George Vasey
Producer Sara Black
Main contractor Sewell Construction

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