Donald Smith - Director of Chelsea Space

Chelsea Space Director and MA Curating and Collections Practitioner in Residence, Donald Smith has once again been named on Artlyst’s Alt Power 100. The list is an alternative to the Art Review top 100 which focuses on the financial power players; the Artlyst Alt 100 recognises individuals who have made a major contribution to the contemporary art scene and often includes art pros such as museum directors or curators or as Artlyst puts it, those “who are quietly making a difference in many different ways.”’Donald is well-known in the London contemporary art world and he established Chelsea Space in 2005. He started teaching at Chelsea in the early 1990s and also established the archive Contemporary Art Slide Scheme around that time.

Donald set up Chelsea Space so he could invite external art and design professionals to come and work on experimental curatorial projects that might not otherwise be realised. “Because our focus is on curatorial experimentation, we get a lot of interesting gallery and museum people through our doors.”

“I’m really delighted to be recognised by Artlyst, because there are a lot of talented names up there. But one thing I have learnt is that it’s not enough to just be talented or skilled ­– it’s also our generous network of connections that opens up possibilities.

“Because we have Chelsea Space, our MA Curating and Collections students also get hands-on experience assisting on public exhibitions and working with the inspiring professionals making them. They leave the college having already worked in a public space, they know about exhibition making and understand the importance of establishing their own networks.”

A working gallery on campus presents some pretty unique benefits for Chelsea students. “For example, I knew Alex Sainsbury of the wonderful Raven Row Gallery was coming down to see the latest show (Richard Wood’s ‘Second Home’) so I invited him to come early and also see the students’ shows and share some of his knowledge in a discussion with them, which was great,’’ says Donald. “Chelsea space is an informal ongoing conversation.”

Richard Woods: Second Home runs at Chelsea Space until 15 December 2017.

Check out the full Artlyst Alt Power 100 list.