The Young Voices New Visions 2022 exhibition showcased work from over 40 local schools responding and celebrating the theme, ‘Life’. From 16 May to 21 May, Dimitra Maravelaki took on the role of Exhibition Assistant, working alongside the curators to bring the exhibition together.

Exhibition slide show

Dimitra's diary

Curating a young people’s exhibition of artwork may sound an easy case but it is definitely not! It is a fun, though challenging, experience from which one can gain great knowledge and develop new skills.


First day on site! School teachers were dropping off the artworks at The Undercroft of Worcester Cathedral and I had the opportunity to take a first look at the amazing creations children prepared for this year’s exhibition!

I was so intrigued by the variety of the artworks, the children’s talent, their inspiration and ideas of what ‘Life’ (the exhibition’s theme) is!

I was very lucky to meet several members of the Severn Arts’ team who all made me feel welcomed and most importantly the chief curator of the exhibition, Richard Webb. From a little chat I had with him I realised that he is very professional and organised, always willing to create a cheerful atmosphere with his amazing sense of humour!

Richard was very kind to give me a small tour around the Cathedral and the spaces in which we would display the artworks and he explained to me the process and the philosophy behind the curation of such a project! Display boards and mount boards were arriving, and we started to move some of the artworks out into the cloisters through a very narrow door! Words cannot describe how excited I am to work in this amazing environment with such a great team!


Our day started by moving all the artworks into the cloisters. Once we gathered all the exhibits together, we started looking for themes. Our purpose was to mix works from different schools and age groups in order to offer an inclusive and balanced result that would serve the project’s theme in the best way possible. Some of the sections we came up with were jungle life, portraits, the war in Ukraine, trees, insects and animals, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. We had to give serious thought to how these themes would work together coherently in the cloisters, how they would fit on the boards or be hung on the walls.

This is a very challenging process which demands patience, creativity, and the ability to combine ideas!

I feel very glad and grateful for participating in it by observing Richard and Steve (Richard’s assistant) and by giving my own perspective. After that, we began to spread the artworks around the cloisters according to the themes we came up with and decided to make some slight changes to the arrangement of the display boards. By the end of the day, I felt my feet burning after long periods of walking and standing. (Spoiler alert: this is how every day ended but the lessons I learned and the skills I developed were totally worth it!)


The exhibition is coming together!

I spent my first hour curating a display table with mosaic plaques of various sizes and colours. Although I intended to hang all the small pieces on a white tree (like a micrography of the tree of life), I finally decided to put a limited number of them on the tree and the rest on the table beneath it instead because I wanted to make sure that all of the artworks would be visible to the visitors.

I arranged the rest of the small plaques in colour patterns on the table. After I finished with them, I put the bigger ones around, close to the edges of the table, making sure that there was coherence, symmetry, and that there were no gaps or busy spaces.

Another task I enjoyed on that day was my contribution to the first installations on the display boards! For the first time in my life I used a drill and a hammer to hang the exhibits and I could not stop smiling like a little child out of satisfaction! New experiences, new skills! Before we put anything on the boards, we had to think which of the mount boards would match the artworks best. In addition, we had to make sure that there is harmony and balance among the colours of the mount boards used on each display board. To achieve that, we had to walk around the cloisters to see the ‘bigger picture’ and decide what would be the best for the visitors’ eyes.


Today time flew with us working hard to put as much as we could on the display boards! Moreover, by using a fishing wire, we managed to take advantage of the cloisters’ architecture and hang some of the artworks (tapestries) on the walls!

We agreed that some of the amazing 3D works schools sent should not be put on display or table boards hence we tried to make them look like part of the cloisters’ decoration! Some of them were standing on the floor between the boards or under the beautiful and colourful stained-glass windows.

Under the thorough instructions of Richard and Steve I took care of the arrangement and stapling of a series of painted portraits on a big (double) display board. First, we decided to divide the board in four by using some round paintings in a cross-like arrangement. In each quarter we put an equal number of paintings, always taking into consideration how these would look coherent and symmetrical to each other and to the paintings of the other quarters. The most challenging and time-consuming part of this installation was the calculation of distance between the artworks! I had to be very precise and give attention to detail using the spirit level and the measuring tapes!

By the end of the day, I was excelling at stapling! Before we left the cathedral, we took several walks around the cloisters to make sure that the colours and themes ‘made sense’ and create a coherent result.


Almost there! On Friday we finalised almost each section, matching the exhibits with the mount boards, stapling and stabilising what we had put on the boards the previous days. I curated a section with a series of clay creations depicting sea life and nature life. I had to be extremely careful because they were very fragile! I tried to arrange them symmetrically, following colour patterns while at the bottom of the table I stapled a series of drawings depicting insects. Symmetry, symmetry, symmetry! A very pleasing result for the visitor’s eye! The easel with the poster for the exhibition, as well as banners, were dropped off and we made them a part of the show, putting them next to the exhibits, opposite the cathedral’s gift shop. I really enjoyed seeing the cathedral’s visitors spend time watching us installing the exhibits, asking questions about our work and admiring children’s creations saying that they would definitely visit the exhibition soon.


One day before the opening of the exhibition! We spent the day finalising the stapling of the exhibits, labelling artwork and making sure that everything is working properly. I cannot express my emotions when I saw the exhibition completed! It looked amazing!

Reflections on my overall experience

First of all, I would like to thank Severn Arts for making me a part of their team and for giving me the chance to work for an amazing project that promotes young people’s creativity. I am really glad that I contributed to their vision!

I cannot describe my gratitude to Richard, an amazing mentor who had the patience to explain the concept behind every little step of the curation process. His support and humour even in stressful moments were very encouraging for me. This exhibition would be impossible without Steve, from whom I learnt a lot of technical skills (including the use of a drill and hammer, which I so loved)!

Curating a young people’s exhibition of artwork may sound an easy case but it is definitely not! It is a fun, though challenging, experience from which one can gain great knowledge and develop new skills. I would totally recommend it to anyone who wishes to follow a career in the curation sector.

A few things I learned from this:

  • Working in a team for such a demanding project is an amazing opportunity to see how different perspectives bound together for the best result!
  • Always consider the space and try to adjust the exhibits to it where possible
  • Symmetry, harmony and coherence: three keywords for the curation process on this kind of project!
  • Let your imagination free and do not limit yourself! Your colleagues will help you to realise your ideas
  • Using staple guns, a hammer, drill, and spirit level is absolutely necessary for your work!
  • As teachers used to say to us in school: there are no wrong questions! Ask as many things as you want, don’t get embarrassed! Consider this experience as a big lesson for your future endeavours!

My advice for next year’s exhibition assistant:

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes – and warm socks!
  • Prepare yourself for long hours of standing and walking
  • If you are based outside Worcester, check train and bus timetables
  • Get ready to develop your creativity and a lot of technical/practical skills