Magdalena Poppy Moursy
H – 08/12/1993
M – 04/08/1993
London for both of us
Did you go to university?
Yes we both did
If so.. Where did you (both) go, what did you study and how did you do?
H – Study BA CCC (Culture, Criticism, Curation) at Central Saint Martins (Currently finishing his final year – Just received 1st Class Honours in Dissertation)
M – BA Art History at Leeds (High 2:1 with 1st Class Honours in Dissertation)
Was it necessary in hindsight to what you’re doing now?
H – YES!! Being at art school has provided me with contacts and an actual foot on the ground on what is actually happening now (real contemporary discourse), as opposed to doing art history at a normal uni where you don’t have a clue what’s actually happening today
M – My course at Leeds has definitely shaped the way I want to curate exhibitions. There was a strong emphasis on constantly thinking laterally which I believe has been very necessary in my approach to Curation and the relevant topics I wish to explore. Despite not gaining the knowledge of (real contemporary discourse) Hugo has at art school, I have gained a critical approach to artistic practice in relation to their relevant epoch which easily translates into contemporary work and Curation. I believe that our different degrees and skills complement each other greatly when working together.
Was it a clear-cut path after you left in terms of what you wanted to do?
H – Have not left yet
M- No!!!!! It still isn’t and everyday I’m learning something different about the career I want to establish. I really enjoy what we’re doing and whilst it is a gamble and extremely hard work even having to juggle two jobs to support myself financially, I’m hoping through continuing to curate shows independently I will have a stronger chance of obtaining a good job in the near future and being recognised in the art world.
What pressures do you think many twenty-somethings are faced with?
H – Too much choice. It’s hard to home in on what exactly you want to do when there are so many possibilities, and so much competition, especially in the arts
M – Having to be extremely versatile with how you approach what you want to achieve. Unlike older generations, when leaving university with a good degree almost guaranteed you with a well-paid secure job from moment of graduation, we’re entering a vastly more competitive cut throat job market, particularly in London and arts industry. You really have to put yourself out there, network like crazy and keep up with the fast pace of social media, which can be an immense pressure when it can be so low paid, if paid at all and sometimes having to work two or more jobs because you’re living in expensive cities with high rent.
How did the idea for your company/event/organisation come about?
The concept began when I began running weekly ‘Art Battles’ in a pop up temporary art space in Soho that I was managing. From their Hugo and I curated our first photography exhibition ‘A Time And A Place… For Everything’, looking into the community and history of in Soho. The Art Battles ran successfully for over a year; a fun and light-hearted event that looked into audience engagement, as two artists had half an hour to create a work based on the same point of reference in front of a live audience. After the space closed, Hugo and I were keen to continue the concept but refine it for a more curatorial model, giving two emerging artists from similar disciplines now three hours to paint over a selected theme through the course of the evening.
Exactly what is Transparent Platform?
Transparent Platform is a live visual art event aiming to promote emerging artists through the transparency of the audience observing the work being created within the constraints of a time period. Artists work within a brief given by the curators. After the works have been created the audience is invited into an informed discussion about the practice of the artists and the works produced. The audience also enjoy a three course curated meal whilst watching the process.
What different roles do you play?
H: We run our projects pretty much equally, I may possibly be more on the ground, ready to do more practical elements, such as studio visits picking up works to take to the framers, or ready to hop in the back of a van for deliveries. While Magdalena is the pacemaker in our projects keeping everything ticking over accordingly, from wooing customers with her charm over email to making sure we don’t get into trouble with the accounts!! However all important tasks such as our curatorial ethos, or communication with our artist or clients is a joint effort.
What do you have to remain consistent about in running Transparent Platform?
M: Keep the books in tact!! It makes everything so much easier when the exciting stuff comes about. Catalogue everything, keep every receipt, make an inventory!! All that boring stuff does really pay off and actually make our lives so much easier!!
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced as a result of your success?
H: Functioning on a hangover….
Who did you seek advice from and who really helped you in the early stages?
H: The Museum of Soho and especially Tony Shrimplin; we collaborated on our first show with them, and Tony really showed us the ropes in Soho, he really taught us what we know today and without him none of what we have done would have been possible. Please follow MoSoho on TWITTER!!
M: We’ve also had an amazing time working with L’Escargot in Soho. They have been fully supportive in all our events with them and given us the amazing opportunity to present our work in such an amazing venue in the centre of Soho. Hugo and I can be very demanding in our execution and L’Escargot have always allowed us to achieve our vision no matter how great the task or how much we overturn their beautiful venue. The team there are so great and we have formed a really strong relationship with everyone there.
Do you ever doubt yourself?
H – It’s nice when people doubt you, and you can prove them wrong. No one thought it was possible to achieve what we did with our last show, but it happened.
M – It’s important not to doubt yourself when working independently for yourself otherwise you can lose momentum and drive. We both have our moments of worry and stress but we both have a strong belief in what we’re doing so we don’t ever let is compromise our work ethos.
How do you market yourselves?
M: Just being out there as much as possible, by going to opening events where you know there will be people you need and want to meet, and vice versa, where there will be people who you know will want to meet you. We have been very fortunate to sit on the committee at Lights of Soho and this has given us a great platform for networking
What do you wish you had known then that you know now you’ve done your first event?
H – Nothing really because everything you do is a learning curve; we wouldn’t be where we are without learning along the way
M –Hugo’s right we have learnt so much on the way and learning has been so helpful for us at the various different stages that we wouldn’t have changed anything.
Any mishaps (disasters) along the way?
H – Wouldn’t you like to know…
M – We have had our fair share of moments!! From crossing London to find MDF boards to use as temporary walls, waiting on framers, to a pay pal card reader not arriving before the event and even trying to fit tables too big together in one room. It can be crazy and stressful and there are always hurdles but we’ve always pulled through and fingers crossed there haven’t been any real disasters. It’s all part of the nature of the work.
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of pursuing a career in this field?
H – Find a good mentor!! It’s really very hard to make it completely on your own I think, even if it’s just someone to give a friendly bit of advice every now and then or introduce you to a killer contact
M – You really have to put yourself out there. If you haven’t necessarily got the connections or experience it doesn’t mean you cannot make yourself stand out. There are always opportunities to develop your skills independently and it never goes unnoticed.
What do you think the next steps are for you?
H – In the early stages of curating a show commissioning Central St Martins graduates to create work about artefacts in the hidden gem of The Museum of Soho archive. The show will be a celebration of Soho as a never-ending organism, which lives, grows and breathes within itself.
M – Both Hugo and I are keen to continue working together in Soho and develop Transparent Platform into an established bimonthly event at L’Escargot. We’re constantly discussing new themes and concepts and are wanting to present a variety of young, talented artists from all disciplines.
What has been your best moment so far?
H – Watching the Duke of Norfolk awkwardly play with his peas as he watched Stephanie our transgender model be painted from 5ft away…
M – So many amazing moments for me. It’s been great to see our shows promoted in established magazines such as Time Out and Evening Standard and read through the great reviews we’ve received. The shows we have curated cover quite controversial topics and we constantly want to put the spectator out of their comfort zones and it’s not always guaranteed people will be accepting of it. Fingers crossed so far people have loved it!
What’s the dream?
We both want to foster the career of artists and continue to curate exhibitions. As well as this we would like to open our own project art space.
You get stranded on desert island- choose one item alone that you can carry in your hand?
H – A football named Wilson!! No on a more serious note one of Rory Rae’s Pulled pork buns, the texture is just so soft, got to try one if it’s the last thing you eat!!
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Photos Copyrighted to Ed Little