Interview with Artists-in-Residence Pavilion

Collaborative artist duo Pavilion (Sophie Yetton and Gabriel Birch) discuss their plans as Artists-in-Residence at the Foundling Museum.

Artquest’s Nick Kaplony and Alison Duke, Collections Manager at the Foundling Museum, talk to Sophie Yetton and Gabriel Birch of Pavilion, about their plans for their residency at the Museum. Their discussion encompasses their style of research, how to make funding applications and why it is useful for artists to engage collaboratively with organisations like the Foundling Museum.

The duo discuss the beginnings of their collaboration in 2009, when upon sharing a studio together they were drawn to each other’s practice and discovered a mutual interest in the structural frameworks through which art is displayed. By examining the many ways of seeing that come together in an exhibition, from the perspectives of the artist, architect and curator to those of the visitor, they developed an interest in blurring the boundaries between these roles.

Sophie Yetton describes the particular appeal of working with the Foundling Museum on this project:

“The physical framework in which something is seen always draws us towards it. One of the really important institutional spaces in the original Foundling Hospital would have been the Court Room, this extraordinarily ornate room with luscious exotic plasterwork, where the moment of encounter between the mothers, the children, and the Hospital governors would have occurred. The difference between that opulence and that poverty is quite an extraordinary one. That’s a core narrative we want to explore.”

They go on to discuss the challenges of applying for residencies and research opportunities, alongside focusing on their artistic practice. Artquest’s Nick Kaplony recommends looking for a “very natural and genuine connection between your practice and the opportunity”, to avoid having to shoe-horn a specific work into a defined brief. Pavilion emphasise the importance of finding a logical way of explaining your practice in an application:

“It’s difficult, writing a very clear statement about your work and your intention, as the way you feel about your practice is not necessarily logical. Try to break it into more straightforward aims and directives than you would normally, if you weren’t applying for funding.”

Collections Manager, Alison Duke explains that from a Museum’s perspective, applications need to demonstrate how they are related to the specific opportunities of a residency:

“The application needs to actually be relevant to the place that you’re applying to and feel like a fresh application. We’ll ask ourselves, why is it for us? As a research-based residency, we were very keen to choose somebody who understood what the Foundling Museum was all about and had some ideas, but weren’t too restricted. We looked for an openness to exploring angles that wouldn’t have occurred to you before completing the residency.”

Pavilion’s residency at the Foundling Museum will culminate in an Artists-in-Residence event where they will share the results of their research. To learn more and book tickets, visit the event page.