Czech star Katerina raises her home town’s Profile

Senior curator Louisa Briggs with part of Katerina Seda's installation at the Millennium Gallery.
Senior curator Louisa Briggs with part of Katerina Seda's installation at the Millennium Gallery.

NOW on view in the Millennium Gallery is Líšenň Profile, an exhibition documenting a new project by international contemporary artist Katerina Šedá in a large-scale commission for Museums Sheffield.

Based in the Czech Republic, the artist produces work exploring themes of history and community and ideas around individual and collective identity. In this new project she is investigating the unspoken characteristics that link a person to the village, town, city or country they call home - in this case her own hometown of Líše - and more than 500 people across the Czech Republic to try and capture those physical qualities which best reflect the Líšenň Profile.

The 500 artists, both professional and non-professional, were invited to visit the town and draw the outline of the view on the horizon. They were then instructed to turn the drawing on its side and try and see a face in it which they could match with that of a local resident. Once they had found that person they then drew their profile. They were all then collected into a book which has been presented to the townsfolk who will then vote for the one they consider best reflects the physical profile of the town. These are all now on display in the Millennium Gallery and it is hoped that the identity of the person chosen to represent Lisen will be announced during the run of the exhibition until May 30.

The work has been commissioned thanks to the inaugural Contemporary Art Society Annual Award, a new national prize founded specifically to enable galleries to commission work by established artists that will remain in their permanent collections

Louise Briggs, Senior Curator of Visual Arts, who worked on the submission explained that they had seen the work of Katherina Seda for Art Sheffield 2010 and it fitted the theme of identity which they were exploring in other Museums Sheffield exhibitions. “It was taking us in another direction and we didn’t know at the outset what we were going to get,” she said.

That was one of the factors in winning the bid. “It was about taking risks,” said Lucy Byatt, Head of National Programmes at the Contemporary Art Society

It was chosen from 22 applications from around the country. A shortlist of five projects were given £1,000 to make detailed proposals and the winner than given £60,000 to commission the work and acquire it for a permanent collection.

“The judges knew Katherina and that she had the capability of doing the work,” added Byatt. “Quite simply it was the best project.”

The Sheffield curator said that one of the things which appealed about the Lisen Project is that the process is very much part of the piece. “Ordinarily when you acquire the work you don’t get the backstory.”