Jules Wright is the founder of East London contemporary art outlet, The Wapping Project. Launched in 2000, the showspace boasts an impressive programme of exhibitions alongside an award-winning restaurant. Curator and entrepreneur Wright is also recognized as one of the leading artistic patrons of her generation. Curator of this month’s Swarovski Crystal Palace exhibition, Wright took time out of her hectic schedule to talk shop with us.
What was the inspiration behind your concept for Swarovski Crystal Palace 2010?
Conceptually I was led by the work and two words - crystal and palace. This body of work has an austerity, conceptual simplicity and a refinement, which is challenging - it reflects our time.
I sought to give each design its own metaphorical place or imagined location, for example mirrors and reflections (Versailles), highly glazed walls (China), empty and white (Zen). Of course these are images in my imagination. My intention was to release the imaginations of the visitors and encourage them to stay longer with each piece, to absorb and take account of the beauty of these stark works - and to contemplate the nature of Swarovski crystal.
Were you at all involved with the design process of any of the five Crystal Palace creations?
Yes, as part of a collective Swarovski team. Our task was to enable the realisation of each piece constructed in the UK and to ensure the fulfillment of the designer’s ambition.
How has your background in theatre informed your work for Swarovski Crystal Palace?
I make up stories and unravel narratives. I create images and psychological places. The drama of this exhibition is constructed in seven scenes through which the visitor passes, making up his or her own journey and allowing enough time for the emotional impact of each piece to have its effect. I don’t think people usually think about the emotional and psychological content of exhibitions but they are the bread and butter of theatre and life.
Which of this year’s designs did you find the most engaging?
I have an affection for each work because I needed to spend time using each as the protagonist of its own space.
How did Nadja Swarovski approach you, and what was it that attracted you to the project?
Judy Dobias of Camron PR made the original introduction and I was invited to a meeting with Nadja Swarovski and her team to give a response to the initial brief. I’d seen previous exhibitions (in 2007 and 2008) and relished the chance to work with such eminent designers in a creative forum.
Is this your first time working with Swarovski?
You have a long history of creative patronage, are there any particular designers or artists you would like to see involved with the next Swarovski Crystal Palace?
There are two sculptors I can see working with this material -- the great Richard Wilson and a youngster, 2010’s young sculptor of the year, Sam Spencer. Given time, I could come up with a long list of exciting possibilities!