Out of This Mind: Matthew Ould-Oram Exhibition PART 1

My name is Lauren and for the past few weeks I have set up a temporary exhibition in The Infirmary museum. The exhibition features poems by artist Matthew Ould-Oram. Matthew has several mental health problems which serve as inspiration for his art. In this first of two posts I will take you through the steps I took in creating this exhibition. I want to learn more about curating. Maybe you can give me tips on how to do exhibitions better in the future?

Community case and comment boards

Community case and comment boards

Upon starting with my placement, I wanted to do something that would be meaningful for the museum and for its stakeholders. I am also interested in curating so when Mark told me about the poems of Matthew, I taught it would be a nice project for me to work on. Mark had been in touch with Matthew for some time at this point. Matthew had send his poems to the museum in a PowerPoint file. It contained 38 poems so I knew right away that I needed to make a selection. We did not have enough room in the gallery to exhibit everything. I selected poems based on tone and representation which means that I wanted poems that captured the mundane aspects of Matthew’s life but also ones about the exceptional moments. Matthew says he treats his mental health problems as an adventure and I wanted to capture that positive energy. Eventually I came up with a selection of seven poems:

  •   Controlled by Electricity and a Bush
  •   Day I was Diagnosed with Schizophrenia.
  •   Every day I try to follow God.
  •   Leaving the Psychiatric Hospital.
  •   Mental Health Centre Rules OK.
  •   Mental Meltdown.
  •   My Depression.
Mood boards

Mood boards

After selecting the poems, I started with a brainstorm session for the new exhibition. I made moodboards and looked at former projects of the infirmary. I made sketches and I discussed my ideas with Mark. We tried to contact Matthew several times to ask him about his thoughts on my ideas but he never came back to us. I know it would have made the exhibition more emotive. After waiting for a few more days, I made a project plan for myself with all the important dates and the deadline by which I wanted to finish the project.

Alternative idea

One of the ideas I had was to create an audio exhibition by means of scattered boxes in the gallery. On the inside of the lids of the boxes you would find a QR code which would lead you to an audio version of the poem. The poems could be read by student-actors of the University of Worcester or by Matthew. Inside the boxes you would also find small items that relate to the contents of the poem. It was inspired by an exhibition by the Dolhuys Museum in Haarlem, in the Netherlands. We decided not to pursue this idea because we figured it would not be achievable within the amount of time I had left in my placement. It is still great though and I hope somebody else will do it another time.

Another post will come next week to show you how it turned out.

Lauren Romijn, MA student placement, University of Leicester