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Artists from The Aerodrome: Boyd & Evans

Ikon’s current exhibition The Aerodrome is dedicated to the memory of Michael Stanley, Curator of Ikon before becoming Director of Milton Keynes Gallery and then Modern Art Oxford, who died tragically in 2012. The exhibition features over 40 artists Stanley worked with, all of whom held him in great affection.

Ahead of Committed Curating, an afternoon where artists, curators and writers share their personal experiences of working with Michael Stanley, we spoke to British artists Fionnuala Boyd and Les Evans to find out more about the impact Stanley had on their artistic practice.

The Aerodrome isn’t the first time Boyd & Evans have been at Ikon, in 2012 Views was the first major survey of their work, comprising painting and photography drawn from their 40 year career.

Boyd & Evans, Ocotillo Wells Airfield CA (2016)

When did you first meet Michael Stanley and how did you come to work together?
Fionnuala (Boyd) was on the selection committee of MK Gallery when Mike was appointed director. Despite being so very young his application was irresistible, his suggested program being so smart and knowledgeable, it was not difficult to overcome the misgivings about his age.

The outgoing director, Stephen Snoddy, had already invited us to show at Milton Keynes, so Mike was landed with us. He did not know our work at all, but set about finding out in such a thorough way, wanting to see everything. We found that meetings with him always left us feeling more enthusiastic about our own work, and he encouraged us to be a lot more adventurous than we might have been. (We will illustrate this at the Committed Curating symposium on Monday 22 July). This became his style, always supporting artists in their wish to be more ambitious.

Can you tell us about your work which features in The Aerodrome and why/how you selected this piece?
It would be easy to demonstrate a direct line of development from that MK show to our work featured in The Aerodrome, Ocotillo Wells Airfield CA (2016). It is a recent work using a new technique. Our openness to such methods, and current approach to photography, is one legacy from our exposure to Michael Stanley.

Mike would occasionally send emails from around the world when he saw things which he thought would interest us. One came from a plane as he flew over Southern California, recognising that he was over an area of great interest to us. He could well have been over this airfield in the Anza Borego desert at the time.

The work shows an Aerodrome, if you look hard enough.

What’s your lasting memory of Michael Stanley?
Michael Stanley was a gifted curator with his finger firmly attached to the pulse of contemporary art, demonstrated by the fact that he showed four artists who were later nominated for the Turner Prize. We wanted to see contemporary art of all persuasions in MK Gallery so it was an adventure following his program. He was conscientious and thorough both as a curator and a friend. The art world and his friends miss him in equal measure.

Want to find out more? Join Boyd & Evans alongside David Austen, Gill Perry, Paul Luckraft, George Shaw and Jonathan Watkins as they discuss Michael Stanley’s curatorial practice and their experiences of working with him.

Committed Curating – The achievement of Michael Stanley
Monday 22 July
2.30 – 6.30pm

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