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Crawford Profiles: Dawn Williams

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Dawn Williams

Curator of Exhibitions

Where are you from?
Wiltshire, England.

What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery?
I work as a Curator of exhibitions. Essentially, researching artists’ work that may have common ideas with other artists’ work, and creating exhibitions which offer new contexts and experiences of the artwork which hopefully may inform and inspire our audiences in a meaningful way.

Briefly describe your typical working day.
Exhibition ideas often form through conversation with artists and colleagues and can germinate for three to four years before they are presented in the gallery’s exhibition spaces (for example, the recent Doug Fishbone: Please Gamble Responsibly show was four years in the making, from the initial contact and invitation to the artist to its realisation in March 2021). After the initial research, which involves visiting exhibitions and researching artists’ work, there are numerous studio visits, meetings, phone calls and emails with artists, production suppliers, technicians and lots and lots of problem-solving.

Once the concept and artworks have been decided (or we have commissioned an artist to create new work), I work with the artists and the formidable team in the Crawford Art Gallery to realise the exhibition. This involves working with Jean O’Donovan, Registrar who looks after art transport and insurance, to Dyane Hanrahan who heads the Marketing department organising the publicity and social media and to Anne Boddaert in Learn & Explore who, with her team, mediate the exhibition’s themes and artwork to our wide and engaging audiences. One day is never the same as another – apart from the coffee intake!

What do you like the most about working at Crawford Art Gallery?
The people – both the team here at the Gallery but also the privilege of meeting and having conversations with artists, colleagues from art institutions across the island and beyond, and the public and communities who give their time, ideas and enthusiasm. So often I come away from conversations with colleagues and the public learning more about art, society and sometimes myself. 

Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space?
I really like the screening room on the second floor. It is a small, safe and welcoming, intimate space where you can have one on one encounters with artists’ film work from around the globe (as part of the Artists’ Film International partnership lead by Whitechapel Art Gallery, London) to get insights what other people are seeing or thinking.

Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery?
The first time I visited the gallery was in 1993/4 when I was hitch-hiking across Ireland with my friend Bo. I remember walking in the second floor galleries and I have a vague memory of a James Turrell installation. I would never have guessed then that I would be working at the gallery years later!

What do you think people might be surprised to learn about the gallery?
The balance of risk and belief is pivotal to exhibition making in the Crawford Art Gallery, which mirrors the decisions we make in our day-to-day lives. 

SATURATIONthe everyday transformed, curated by William Laffan and Dawn Williams, will run from 29 January until 8 May 2022 and will focus on photography of contemporary life at the intersection of the quotidian, or everyday and the fantastic or even surreal. Learn more about this exhibition here.

Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland
T12 TNE6
Tel: 021 480 5042

Opening Hours
N.B. Last entry is 15 minutes before closing

Monday–Saturday 10.00am–5.00pm*
Thursday until 8.00pm

Sundays and Bank Holidays
11.00 am4.00pm

*Second floor closes 15 minutes before closing
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