My Week: Catherine Kinley Curator, Abracadabra exhibition, Tate Gallery
Saturday 17 July 1999
I have a dinner party for some of the artists showing their work in the Abracadabra exhibition at the Tate. Catherine Grenier, who initially came up with the idea for Abracadabra, is also there, along with the some of the artists' friends. They leave in the early hours of the morning after eating a simple Mediterranean supper in my garden and helping me load the dishwasher.
I wake up early and get to the gallery for about 10 to do the final checking with the exhibition staff. One of the artists, who has worked in the movies, says it feels very similar here. Lots of hanging around, mobile phones and eating together.
This exhibition is highly unusual. We have taken out most of the walls to leave a huge space for the exhibition, and carpets have been put down as a way of unifying the space and making it more comfortable. By nine o'clock, I have finished putting up notices and feel absolutely exhausted and desperate to get home. I manage to get through the front door and eat the remains of last night's meal before going to bed.
One always feels slightly nervous on the morning of an opening, but I don't really get the chance to worry. I get to work and arrange for the artists to visit the New Tate Gallery of Modern Art. I stay behind to see everything is organised and all the catalogues have arrived. I am surprised at how calm everyone is, the only panic is "controlled" panic.
At 4.30, I jump in a cab with one of the exhibition organisers and a dress that belongs to Caroline Kerr, the project manager, which needs to be ironed. We rush back to my house, get showered and changed and iron Caroline's dress.
We are back in time to make the Abracadabra photo-call but Caroline decides not to wear the dress. Lenders, friends of the gallery, artists and those helping with the exhibition start arriving for a dinner at about seven. It's deliberately been organised as an informal buffet. I go home at about 11 but leave the younger gallery staff and some of the artists to continue with the celebrations.
Up early again for the press view; it starts at 10 and continues throughout the day. Catherine and I talk to the assembled press and show them around the exhibition. I have a few television interviews and phone my mum to tell her to watch me on the nine o'clock News.
We have drinks at 6:30 for the artists' friends and family. Afterwards, a group of us go to a restaurant in the King's Road. It's almost a signing off; lots of the artists are going home the next day. Catherine and myself drink to their health. I am back home by midnight.
I take the morning off and have my first leisurely bath for a long time. That's not to say that I haven't had a bath recently, but rather I haven't had a "leisurely" one. I ring my mum then drop in for a coffee with a neighbour. I go to the local corner shop to get the papers and check on the exhibition coverage.
I'm back in the office in the afternoon. I try to look at some of my e-mails and start thinking about new projects. I go to the gallery for a private view for the Friends of the Tate Gallery. My stepson and his girlfriend and two boys arrive to see the exhibition. The boys love Cattelan's table football and Tormitsu's Japanese businessman. Then we go for a pizza in Notting Hill.
I go back to the gallery to see how the crowd are interacting with the exhibits. It's the first day that Abracadabra has been open to the public and it's very busy. It's highly gratifying when you see all the people and feel the buzz of the atmosphere.
I have an interview with BBC Radio Scotland in the evening. There is a live link-up with Catherine, who has returned to Paris.
In the office working on various things, trying to clear the backlog of mail and calls. With the opening of the new Tate Gallery of Modern Art and the New Tate Gallery of British Art scheduled for spring next year, it's going to be all hands to the pump.
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