Francesca Gavin

I saw the photos of the exhibited works, and it’s a very interesting exhibition. What made you interested in fungi in the first place?
Art is always the thing that leads me to new ideas. I kept noticing artists working with mushrooms as a motif. Originally, my sister Seana Gavin, then Jeremy Shaw, who I have worked with on many shows and it just exploded from there. The more I read about mushrooms the more interesting they became. They are closer to animals than plants! Many trees and plants could not survive without them. They really are fascinating metaphors for contemporary positive existence. I even have @theartofmushrooms Instagram account, which I would love to turn into a visual book, collecting all the fungi art I find.
The job of curation requires various abilities and senses such as planning, execution, management, but what do you think a “good curator” is, and what do you think is essential to be one?
All those practical skills are very important; however, I think the main skill is the ability to place objects together to create new dialogues and communicate ideas. I personally do not like shows where you feel a curator is showing off. I want exhibitions that inspire, invite, and educate an audience to learn more. I personally want to make exhibitions that appeal to an audience far beyond the art world and make them realise that contemporary art is one of the most inspiring spaces for new thinking.
What do you keep in mind when communicating the theme and direction of your curated exhibition to the contributing artists?
I love working with artists. I always present a summary of the idea and why I find it interesting. Usually, I am approaching them because it is something I can already see is an interest in their work. Like all curators, there are a number of artists I have worked with more than once, and know that the communication and ability to adapt to different themes is smooth. Interestingly most of the exhibitions I have created in some way touch on recurring themes too - the psychedelic or countercultural, rave and the ecstatic, and our wider relationship with technology. There is a lot of trust working with artists and curators but my main aim is to create opportunity to showcase what artists are doing in the best way possible.
Do you think that the transformation of the world during the current pandemic could be a turning point for further evolution of your creations?
Definitely. I think it has shifted so much for me personally and creatively. After three months of total isolation in London, I moved to Vienna where I am now. I think this is the time for smaller cities you can cross by foot. I’m very inspired my new location, the people I’ve met here, the different pace of life. I am completely in love with my apartment as a place of refuge. I am also thinking how what I do creatively can have a positive impact. I am working on a book about art and politics at the moment. I also hope to find a publisher who is interested in doing a visual book about the representation of mushrooms. I am giving myself more time to look for inspiration and innovation. Addressing climate change and resisting the rise international fascism also feel very very important right now.
You must be very busy curating, writing, editing, etc., but you’ve also moved to Vienna and danced so much. This leads me to believe that you are a very powerful woman! What motivates you in this difficult situation?
My motivation this year has transformed completely. In the first wave of lockdown I was totally not used to not being active in the world. Being productive - dancing three hours a day, writing an incredible amount - was a way to replace a life of travel, exhibition going and stimulus. Things shifted dramatically again in July when I first came to Vienna, originally for a one day film shoot in an art collection. I packed for three months and no idea how long I would stay. A friend gave me their apartment while they went away to Italy and I ended up staying all summer. Everything went well - I made incredible friends, I went swimming in the Danube everyday. I eventually found an incredible flat to rent and I'm staying on for the second wave. My motivation now is less about productivity (though I am working on more than one book project, and still dancing an hour each day). Now, my motivation is about emotions and my inner life. I'm working on developing a deeper connection to how I feel - perhaps for the first time in my life. Life is much calmer, slower, more peaceful. I keep saying if you make it through this year happy and in good mental health, you've won.
About the world from now on, how do you think it will change, especially in regards to creativity?
Everything is less about the ego. I think we are all interested in collaboration more. I think how people spend their money and energy has also shifted. If something doesn’t have an altruistic vein to it, it feels strange.
Could you send a positive message for the future in your own words directed to our readers?
Don’t dream it, be it.