Wales

What happens when a national museum opens its stores of treasures to members of the public and challenges them to curate their own art exhibition for the very first time?

A new BBC Cymru Wales programme reveals exactly what as it collaborates with Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in a ground-breaking TV series launched today (Thursday 7 June) at the Hay Festival, Hay on Wye.

The five contestants from the new series The Exhibitionists

Soon to be broadcast on BBC Two Wales, The Exhibitionists is a four-part series which follows five individuals with no formal art background as they are set a series of tasks. It is the first time a museum has allowed such extraordinary access to its important art collection for members of the public to handle, discuss, and put on show.

The National Museum displays an outstanding collection of art that includes Van Gogh, Monet, Turner and Picasso as well as many hundreds of lesser known figures. But in the museum's secure stores is the rest of the collection, some works of art that the public very rarely get to see, until now. The five exhibitionists will be given unprecedented access to these paintings, sculptures and ceramics as they compete against each other for the final goal - their own show at National Museum Cardiff.

Helping them along the way are two esteemed figures in the Welsh art world. Osi Rhys Osmond is a highly respected Welsh painter and a lecturer at Swansea Metropolitan University. Karen MacKinnon is Exhibitions Curator at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, and has curated shows all over the world including the Wales pavilion at the most prestigious art show in the world, The Venice Biennale.

Art exhibitions can take several years to plan by professional curators, but the museum's next display is in the hands of the final two competitors of the series. The two finalists will have their own exhibition in the National Museum's new wing for modern and contemporary art, Gallery 24, from 23 June to 19 August, and it's those who visit the Gallery who choose the winner, as they are asked to vote for their favourite.

"I'm confident people will engage with The Exhibitionists and enjoy following their trials and tribulations as they compete to see their own exhibitions on show at the National Museum," says Phillip Moss, Commissioning Executive BBC Cymru Wales.

"BBC Cymru Wales is committed to supporting the arts in all its forms, and this exciting and original series is the first of a wide range of TV arts output from BBC Cymru Wales this summer."

David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru features in the series. He says:

"This series demonstrates how art and the nation's art collection, is relevant to everyone. It is a unique opportunity for five people from Wales to fully engage with staff at the Museum and experience, first hand, the role of a curator."

Also revealed for the first time at the launch were the Exhibitionists themselves. They are:

  • Julia Manser, from Swansea - a charity sector worker and keen Swansea City FC follower
  • Darren Edgley, a florist from Colwyn Bay who has a keen interest in tapestry and embroidery
  • Efa Thomas, a musician and Cardiff journalism student originally from Criccieth
  • Richard Simmonds from Monmouthshire, a factory worker and quiz master who enjoys karaoke
  • Colin Popp, a retired carpenter from Dowlais and a raconteur at the local antiques store.

The series is produced by the Gwynedd-based Cwmni Da TV company.

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