Curated by Gary Sangster, Open Plan embraces the concept of tabula rasa, which imagines an absence of preconceived ideas or predetermined goals. The exhibition space – open, and near empty – is at once a ‘blank slate’ and a building which retains the essence and fundamental form of a factory or manufacturing structure. The installation of art activates and animates the space, making it viable for new purposes and opening it up to new experiences: starting again but not quite forgetting.
The space itself is a vast, Grade II listed building which began life as a Herman Miller Factory and is an integral part of Bath’s industrial history. It was purchased by Bath Spa University in 2016 and over the next few years will be revitalised and transformed into a new campus for the Bath School of Art and Design. Open Plan is part of this transformative process, exploring and interrogating the idea of art as a catalyst for change and growth. Gary Sangster’s curatorial approach has been to intersperse different media and conceptual approaches rather than create specific clusters of form or establish a coherent chronology. The exhibition that emerges, then, is “an accretion of images, forms and ideas that build a new narrative about the work and the building itself.” (Gary Sangster, Open Plan Curator