Common or Garden, Catalyst Arts Gallery, Belfast, 2020. Photo by Simon Mills
Leah Corbett is an artist and curator, whose practice includes realising exhibitions, facilitating workshops and initiating community-led projects. She was award the Visual Artist Bursary Award (Curator Strand) in 2020.
Do you have a favourite art work of all time?
One that always stands out is a performance of Jérôme Bel’s Gala I saw in London in 2016 which blew me away. A group of performers from different backgrounds and abilities each took turns to lead a dance. It was really moving to see people come
together to perform and support each other in that way. I recently included a video excerpt of this work called Company Company as part of the exhibition Common or Garden at Catalyst Arts Gallery, which was really exciting.
What is your daily routine as a curator?
My days vary so I find it helpful to create some kind of structure and always start the day with a to-do list. I spend a lot of time at the laptop planning projects, catching up with collaborators and working on applications. I try to set aside at least
one day a week dedicated to research and reading. During lockdown I’ve been enjoying the talks and events that are happening online. It’s been a good way to feel connected and engage with new work at a time when we can’t visit galleries or see art
in physical spaces.
What would you say is the biggest challenge as a curator?
The biggest challenge is the precarity of working in the arts and the difficulties that come with that.
Who has been of great influence to you in your field?
The people I’ve worked with and collaborated with have had a big impact on me. The best thing about working in this field is the people you meet. I recently finished a 2-year term as Co-director of artist-led organisation Catalyst Arts in Belfast and
I learned a lot from the people I worked with during that time. It’s amazing to see what can be achieved by a group of dedicated volunteers who believe in something - this has been very inspiring for me.
What is the best piece of advice you would give an emerging curator?
As I’m still in that place myself it’s difficult to know what advice to offer. One thing which is important is to have people around you who you can learn from and create things with. This sense of community is vital and helps to keep you going. Reach
out to your peers and create a space where you can discuss ideas, set things up, offer support, edit applications, recommend opportunities and challenge each other.
What has the Visual Arts Bursary support from the Arts Council meant to your practice?
The Visual Arts Bursary is the first significant funding I’ve received from the Arts Council and has been very meaningful. Most importantly this support has allowed me to dedicate time to my practice without other distractions. It’s meant that I have
space to research and reflect following a busy period of outcome-based work.
Tell us about what you did/your project?
I’ve co-founded a new arts initiative, Muine Bheag Arts, along with artist Mark Buckeridge. I’ve spent the last few months researching and preparing for this project which will host a series of artist residencies, workshops, talks and events in the town
of Muine Bheag, Carlow.
What are you doing next?
I’ll be continuing to work on the 2021 Muine Bheag Arts programme, which is due to take place this Summer. I’m also working on facilitating the Teen Directives programme with RHA Gallery, Dublin.