Located less than half a mile south of the prestigious Oxford University, Modern Art Oxford is the city’s “only public space dedicated to contemporary art and culture.” Founded in 1965, the gallery is freely open to its citizens and is known for its fearless, enlightened, and modern exhibitions, artist commissions, and events.
Slated to open in the fall of 2020, the Shadowlight Artists: LUMINOUS event was prohibited from allowing in-person access by COVID-19 restrictions. That didn’t stop Modern Art Oxford from pivoting to the online world with a helping hand from Matterport’s immersive 3D tours, captured by Richard Frith of Vroom360.
We sat down with Andrée Latham, Curator of Digital Content at Modern Art Oxford, to discover how Matterport 3D capture is enabling the gallery to proudly present its Shadowlight Artists: LUMINOUS exhibition - not only to those unable to enter the museum in person but also to a global audience.
Q: What inspired the 3D capture of Shadowlight Artists: LUMINOUS?
LUMINOUS was scheduled to open at the gallery in November 2020, marking our third exhibition of works by the Shadowlight Artists collective. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, creating one of our tried and tested Matterport exhibition scans became increasingly crucial for the curators planning this exhibition.
We regularly work with Richard Frith at Vroom360 on our Matterport scans, and we know how valuable they are as an alternative visitor experience.
LUMINOUS was a partnership with another local arts organisation — Arts at the Old Fire Station — and the scan enabled audiences to explore both halves of the exhibition seamlessly. The virtual experiences’ ability to connect collaborative projects and venues (even across the globe) has exciting potential.
Above all, although the show was only open at the gallery for several weeks, the 3D scan allows a far wider audience to experience and engage with these inspiring artists.
Q: What are the “must-sees” you want visitors to explore and why?
We encourage visitors to click on the virtual exhibition space tags to find out more about the artists and their work. From Danny Smith’s film Flashback, a dance performance exploring his experience of bullying, to Lucy Skuce’s large architectural installation in response to the changing landscape of her local area, the work is varied and intriguing.
Don’t miss LUMINOUS in Lockdown, a film introducing the Shadowlight Artists offering an insight into the particular challenges these artists have faced during the lockdown.
Q: What’s the one thing you want visitors to take away after exploring the gallery?
We’ve had really positive feedback about the exhibition, and it’s been especially lovely hearing how the 3D scan allows people with specific access needs to visit from their homes. One visitor described being “blown away” by their online visit, adding, “Exhibitions are increasingly exhausting and painful for me, so this opens up many possibilities.”
We hope people come away having learned about the Shadowlight Artists and being transported by their work. If they’re excited by this new way of seeing art online, then that’s a brilliant bonus.
Q: What’s the story behind the Shadowlight Artists who created LUMINOUS?
The Shadowlight Artists are a collective of seven Oxfordshire-based artists with learning disabilities. Since 2009, their work, from painting and sculpture, to film and theatre, has reached audiences throughout the UK and across the world.
Managed by the inspiring team at Film Oxford, led by Richard Duriez and Geron Swann, the Shadowlight Artists have adapted to the coronavirus pandemic’s challenges, continuing to work with other professional artists, exchanging sketches by mail, and working collaboratively via Skype.
Particularly at risk from social isolation, and with their social support drastically reduced, making art and keeping in touch has become a focus for this unique group of artists to draw comfort and pride from.
Q: Experiencing art virtually has accelerated this year. What’s possible with the 3D tour of LUMINOUS that might not otherwise be possible in-person?
The 3D scan offers the opportunity for people worldwide and with varying access needs to visit the exhibition. It also acts as a lasting record of this exhibition in the gallery space at Modern Art Oxford.
The software allows visitors to get up-close to the works and look at them from all angles, at their own pace, and visit as many times as they like.
The tag function allows us to add more detailed information about the artists and their work and to link to resources such as artist videos, facts, and thematic content inspired by the artist’s works.
Presenting these incredibly rich stories behind the works can be more challenging in a physical space. As a creative team, we continually work with artists, collaborators, and audiences to explore new ways of using these 3D tours, which have been lifelines for us during the pandemic.