Artwise Susie Allen and Laura Culpan Talk About Cure3 Exhibition 2020


Cure3 is an annual charity selling exhibition. It was devised by Susie Allen and Laura Culpan founders of Artwise. This is the same dynamic curatorial team that was behind the original RCA Secret postcard project. Cure3 has established itself as a critical and commercial success and will take place at Bonhams London flagship gallery from 5 September – 8 September. CPT is the only Parkinson’s charitable organisation in the U.K. solely focussed on finding a cure for Parkinson’

Susie Allen and Laura Culpan

1) Can you tell us a little bit about Artwise Curators and what you do?

Artwise is a curatorial organisation run by us, Susie Allen and Laura Culpan. It was established in 1996 to deliver bespoke contemporary art projects that bridged the gap that existed at the time between the fine art, corporate and museum worlds. 

Since then we have forged a reputation for curating and delivering unique world-class contemporary art exhibitions, commissions and projects. 

Artwise projects are known for being innovative and different; they are critically acclaimed and respected for their creativity, originality and professional delivery.

Over recent years we have focused on charitable fundraising projects. For clients like WWF and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, we have established unique projects that allow us to work with incredible commission artists for great causes. It’s art with heart. 

2) How has lockdown affected your curatorial practice?

We both work remotely anyway – Zoom and Skype have been our regular meeting platform since before lockdown, so the nuts and bolts of how we work hasn’t changed. The biggest change has been not being able to get out and about and see the inspiring exhibitions in London and further afield. 

In some ways, however, lockdown has, in fact, opened doors for us to do more: for example, for Cure3 we have added in more layers of communication around the art commissions, and we have ‘met’ and chatted with so many of our participating artists via Zoom. The ‘interviews’ have then been edited down to 90-second intros to the artists and their works. We would never have thought to do this in ‘normal times’. We would always have loved to add video content and film; however, for charitable projects, budgets are always tight; therefore, we would not have been able to factor in a professional filming budget. Then all of a sudden during lockdown, the video conference interface became a normal and acceptable way to communicate – even with the occasional challenging wifi signals! Ironically, during lockdown, we ‘visited’ more artists’ studios – from Mexico City to Portugal to around the U.K. virtual doors have been unlocked!

3) Do you think collectors have adapted their way of seeing and buying art over the COVID period?

Yes absolutely. The online market has already been growing rapidly. Collectors are growing in confidence to purchase sight unseen, especially when they know and follow the artist’s practice. The biggest challenge is understanding scale. With our cubes – which are small in dimension at 20 x 20 x 20cm – we have tried to maximise the online viewing experience in three ways: firstly, great photography of the artwork in more than one angle if relevant (this is more challenging than it sounds when Perspex is involved), secondly we have done photographic filming ‘in the round’ of the works, so you have a more dynamic view; next, we ask the artists to provide a photograph of themselves with their cube, so you have a sense of scale and personality and finally as above, where possible, we interview the artists to talk about their concept and what they have done. The upshot of all of this is a very personal introduction to the work. As a collector, you know that the artist has really invested in making this piece and believes in the cause. We are constantly bowled over by the generosity of artists.

4) Can art commerce grow without art fairs and limited access to galleries?

We think that if any sector can adapt and grow, it will be the art sector. However, it is the museum sector and public art sector that needs help and support. The non-commercial art world is the heart and soul of the industry, so we all must support how we can. Small things like continuing memberships and patronage even at times when access is limited will help these institutions carry the storm. 

5) How did you come up with the concept for Cure3

It’s what we do! We love the challenge to create unique projects. Before starting Artwise Curators, Susie Allen worked at the Royal College of Art where she taught and also curated projects with the students to raise money for the college. She was the original mind behind the Postcard Project that was established in 1994 and is still going strong today and has raised substantial funds for the RCA. 

For Cure3, we were inspired by Tom Isaacs, the co-founder of the charity The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, who himself had Parkinson’s. He described living with the disease as feeling ‘boxed in’ being locked into a world where you can see out but can’t live the way you want to live. Hence the cube became that symbol. It worked on many levels, not just symbolically; it is an interesting challenge to give an artist a blank space to work with: you often find they can experiment and play with their practice. Painters delve into the third dimension and sculptors have to think small rather than big! This year we have Frank Bowling, Chantal Joffe and Hurvin Anderson – all renowned painters – presenting three-dimensional sculptural works for the first time. 

We like the idea that the works on sale may be different to the usual works available by that artist – we want to encourage collecting and want there to be a spectrum of price points. This year the prices range from £650 up to £65,000. 

It was also important in coming up with the project that we did it as a selling exhibition rather than an auction. We want the artists and their galleries to have control over the selling price of the work. To date, we have raised over £800,000 for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust who are investing this money in vital research to help find a cure for this brutal incurable disease. With this third edition, we hope to be able to reach the £1M milestone for the charity. 

6) How is your Cure3 project for September developing

We are on the final leg of preparations (this project takes a year to put together). We have been absolutely bowled over by the artworks this year. In our first edition in 2017, we had 53 artists participate; then in 2018, we had 70 artists and 11 specially invited architects such as Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, Zaha Hadid Design and John Pawson. This year we have 90 participants – including cubes by 11 esteemed fashion designers such as Giles Deacon, Roksanda and Simone Rochas. Our youngest participant, Hannah Tilson, was born in 1995 and the most ‘mature’ artist we have is her grandfather and legendary pop artist Joe Tilson who has just celebrated his 92nd birthday. 

All the works will be on show at Bonhams (who kindly partner Cure3) from the 5-8 September. We have to limit the number of people in the gallery, so entrance is free but ticketed via Eventbrite from our website. All the works are shown online and will be sold online at The sales platform will go live at 8 am on Tuesday 8 September. 

This year we are also excited to be collaborating with Fenwick. Suppose you want to have a preview of our 11 cubes by the participating fashion designers. In that case, they will be on show in the windows of Fenwick from the 2 September and then continuing after our exhibition until the 22 September for London Fashion week. We are extremely excited to have this literal and virtual window to help expand the project and show that art, fashion and science can come together for a good cause.

The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, in association with Bonhams and Artwise, has announced the complete list of participating artists for Cure3 2020. This is the 3rd edition of the acclaimed selling exhibition, devised to raise awareness and funds for curative Parkinson’s research. Cure3 is an opportunity to buy original artworks by a host of celebrated artists whilst also supporting the critical work of The Trust. Cure3 will take place from 5th – 8th September, with all works available to view and buy at, and also presented in a showcase exhibition at Bonhams, London. 

Top Photo L to R  Jane Bustin – Chantal Joffe – Carolina Mazzolari

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