As Derby’s QUAD arts centre welcomes Italy’s Mauro Bedoni to lead its artistic exhibition programming, he takes time out to talk to Nigel Powlson.

Great British Life: QUAD Photo: Ashley FranklinQUAD Photo: Ashley Franklin (Image: ashley franklin)

DERBY’S QUAD arts centre has plans to become an important digital hub, showcasing the best in cutting edge artwork and exploring themes that matter ever more to our everyday lives.

Its ambitious plans in the digital world include the recruitment of Mauro Bedoni to lead its exhibition programming while its Artistic Director Louise Clements is on maternity leave.

Mauro comes from the north east of Italy where he worked as a photographer and then as Picture Editor on an international Italian-based magazine for eight years. As a freelance photo editor he has worked for Time magazine in New York amongst others and is now an important addition to the team at QUAD.

Mauro, who speaks four languages fluently, splits his time currently between Derby and Berlin, which makes for a more interesting commute to work than most.

Great British Life: QUAD Photo: Graham Lucas CommonsQUAD Photo: Graham Lucas Commons (Image: graham lucas commons)

It was QUAD’s position as the hub for the FORMAT International Photography Festival that first drew his attention to Derby. He says: ‘FORMAT is one of the most well-known festivals of its kind in Europe, so the possibility of being able to work hands-on with FORMAT was a big attraction. Photography has always been my main focus. My family has no particular association with the arts but it was a passion I cultivated and even though I studied journalism I always felt that I could express things better through images. I taught myself photography and was hired by Fabrica, the Benetton’s communications research centre, in Italy before joining the Colors magazine as Picture Editor.

‘I think that gave me an international outlook as on the magazine I was collaborating with people coming from all over the world. It’s a place where all cultures come together and this richness opened my mind to the rest of the word. When I quit that job I never really thought about staying in Italy as my references were more international.

‘I now spend half my time here in Derby and the other half in Berlin. It means careful planning in advance but Berlin is a very international city and I’m not sure I know what it feels like to be home now as I travel and work in different countries.’

Mauro is now managing QUAD’s programme team which looks after the workshops, exhibitions and activities at the arts centre.

Great British Life: Line by Kimchi & ChipsLine by Kimchi & Chips (Image: Kimchi & Chips)

‘QUAD was a big, nice discovery,’ he says. ‘The people who work here are very committed and independent as well. The programme was laid out by Louise Clements (the artistic director currently on maternity leave) as we work so far in advance. The seasons were decided so it was a case at the start of keeping up the good work.’

It’s the perfect place for Mauro to develop his career and he’s enjoying being in Derby which reminds him of Treviso, Italy, where Colors is based in terms of size and community. ‘Derby and QUAD have been very welcoming,’ he says.

In terms of photography, he believes that it’s becoming an ever more vital medium for artistic expression but although everyone has the opportunity to capture the world around them with the cameras on their mobile phones and share them on Facebook and other social media channels, he believes that only makes the curator’s role more important. He says: ‘It’s so immediate and we think we are in control now more and more with mobile phones and social media. But like all other forms of art you have to study the language. The fact that we are all more able to take and share photos does not mean that we are all photographers and that we can all be aware of it as an artist can be. An artist can have a different knowledge of what it means to be a photographer. There is a lot to explore and learn. As photography has become more popular I feel that it should be included more in education, especially in my country, Italy, which is way behind the UK, for instance, in terms of availability of photography university programmes. What we try and do with FORMAT is to educate about the language of photography, show all the forms it can take and contextualise it. Curators now have more responsibility. It’s important you never forget that you have to make it accessible and give people the tools to interpret the images. The problem with images being so quickly and widely shared these days is that people don’t always understand the consequences of what it means to “publish” them on digital platforms for instance.’

When Louise Clements returns Mauro hopes to continue his relationship with QUAD.

‘It’s a new reality for me. I always like to keep the relationship going with the people I have worked with and this is definitely one of them.’