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November 10, 2021

Spotlight on star curator Mollie E. Barnes

Article by Mollie E. Barnes & newcube

3 min. read

Black and white photo of female artist
Mollie E. Barnes

A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to speak with Mollie E Barnes about her passion for art, and her particular interest in works of women and queer artists. Mollie is an independent curator and writer based in London, as well as the founder of SheCurates, a platform launched during the pandemic which focuses on equality across pay, representation and respect for all artists.

Mollie, we are delighted to speak with you today. Tell us a little more about yourself. How did you enter the world of art?

Hi, there! I’m Mollie Barnes and I am an Independent Curator based in the UK, and I support my practice with freelancing in the art world. I specialise in events, exhibitions, marketing and artist liaison work!

You launched SheCurates on Instagram the first week of lockdown – how and when was this project initially conceived?

During the first lockdown in the UK I started SheCurates @she_curates_ . It began as a way to keep my mind busy as well as a way to attempt to support the artists I had been working with as all my exhibitions had been put on hold! It’s really transformed my practice and opened up so many contacts for me. I feel very lucky to have such wonderful support!

What have been some highlights since its inception in March 2020?

Curating the exhibitions The Heart of the Matter – A Celebration of Female artists with Gillian Jason Gallery and Get a Load of This! with Daniel Raphael Gallery were definitely amazing highlights for me. Also, setting up the START Grant, and then collaborating with ARTGIRLRISING and most recently Yolk, an exhibition curated with the Taurisano Collection. And honestly, each and every interview.

Multicolored fabric pieces glued together with text saying lies evoke doubt
Molly Kent, Life Evokes Doubt, 2020

As you ‘Champion Women in the Arts’, we’d love to hear more about your decision to focus on artists who identify as women.

Thank you! I recently adjusted my focus and tag to ‘Championing Equality in the Arts’. Originally focusing on this gender disparity, which is still a huge part of my practice, I am now focusing on ideals for the future, which is equality in representation, pay, and respect.

On this note, how do you select the artists you feature?

I am very intuitive as a Curator. I see works I like, am excited by, and artists who I enjoy working with, speaking to, and whose work I believe in. I then approach them and get to know as much as I can about them, their dreams, passions and their works.

Tell us a little more about your work as an independent curator and adviser and what advice you would be giving to young curators/advisers who would like to follow your footsteps?

Thank you – my advice would be:
Be Cheeky. Ask for what you want, politely, and you’ll often get there.
Reach out. People are nicer and more generous with their time than you think.
Don’t be frightened of asking for what you need. This goes hand in hand with the last one, however, don’t pretend you know things you don’t. Keep asking and learning. You’ll do amazing things!

Do you also work closely with collectors?

I do, and love to, but I am strong on my stance that I work primarily with artists. I am absolutely on their side, and work with what they want, need, and what will work best for them. That takes a lot of focus. Often galleries and gallerists work more effectively with collectors when working on a gallery or institutional show.

If you were to pick one curator, one gallery and one artist, who would these be?

That’s a hard one! My favourite Curator at the moment is probably Thelma Golden (if you haven’t seen Thelma’s TED Talk – do!), my favourite artist at the moment is Esiri Erheriene-Essi or Sara Anstis (had to say two!), and one of my favourite galleries is the Gillian Jason Gallery (of course!) or Mimosa House.

We definitely agree with your picks! And watching these artists and spaces grow has been fascinating to us as well. As we are slowly coming out of a strange period, and looking forward, what’s next for you?

The experience in the past few months has been largely positive. Despite a lot going on and all the hardships, it’s been really good professionally for making connections and making friends. I am very fortunate. There is so much going on, it’s very exciting I am very lucky. I have upcoming projects with Gillian Jason Gallery, Brockett Gallery, UNIT Drops, CURA Art and many more.

Photo of female artist in studio
Reihaneh Hosseini in her studio
Photo of female artist against a backdrop of her work
newcube artist Molly Kent

We value your eye as a curator, and we’d love to hear about your favorite artists and artworks at newcube.

My first choice is Reihaneh Hosseini’s Summer. This oil on Canvas piece is sublime from the gushing waves to the satisfied, joyful smirk. This piece brings a real smile to my face.

I’m a huge fan of Molly Kent, and her work Lies Evoke Doubt is a really special piece. Made with a variety of media including fibres, cotton and latex on a stretcher, this work keeps you asking and guessing.

Next up is the rich, powerful How Long Does it Take to Heal from Shantel Miller. This work immediately caught my eye. I love the mix of raw brushstrokes, alongside the delicate highlights on the bed cloths and dressing gown. The subject fixes the viewer with a powerful gaze, questioning and yet soft.

And last, but not least, a beautiful series of works come from Elina Salminen, my favourite piece being (Sun), an in-situ work created with dyed tulle. This piece says sunshine, warmth and bathing in nostalgia and hope.

Thank you Mollie for your time. We are excited to see all your upcoming projects and wish you all the best!

Thank you!

Painting of a yellow sun against a lighter yellow backdrop made from cotton cloth
Elina Salminen, (sun), in-situ installation
Shantel Miller, How Long Does It Take To Heal, 2018. Private Collection, Los Angeles.
Multicolored fabric pieces glued together with text saying lies evoke doubt
Lies Evoke Doubt by Molly Kent
Woman sunbathing by the ocean
Summer by Reihaneh Hosseini, Private Collection
Painting of a yellow sun against a lighter yellow backdrop made from cotton cloth
Elina Salminen, (sun), in-situ installation
Shantel Miller, How Long Does It Take To Heal, 2018. Private Collection, Los Angeles.

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(sun)
(sun)
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Molly Kent

Molly Kent

Edinburgh, Scotland

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