The British Art Network is a Subject Specialist Network bringing together professionals working on British art including curators, researchers and academics, reflecting the combined strength of the UK’s public collections and curatorial expertise in this field
The aim of the British Art Network is to contribute to the sharing of expertise, research and ideas across museums, galleries and academic institutions in the UK. This is supported through a variety of networking opportunities both on and offline. Membership to the network is always open and free, and it includes the following activity:
An online register of expertise in British art
An electronic newsletter
Seminars each year hosted by Tate, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art or partner organisations on themes relating to British art
A dedicated network group for Early Career Curators specialising in British art
Network sub-groups that explore specific areas of British art and are led by regional network members across the UK
The network spans all aspects of British art from the sixteenth century to the present day including painting, sculpture, architecture, installations, graphic art, performance, photography, film etc.
The British Art Network is jointly led by Tate and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
This seminar will seek to explore how we, as curators, care for others both within and beyond the curatorial community. Together with an examination of the professional context in which we operate, the seminar will provide an opportunity to investigate issues such as mental health and wellbeing, funding and resources, our relationships and representation, and how these affect those connected with museums and galleries; from staff and colleagues to participants and visitors.
The word ‘curator’ derives from the Latin word curare, ‘to care’. As curators, we are charged with the physical and intellectual care of collections – the artworks, objects and narratives found within our cultural institutions. However, it is evident to us as a group of early career curators from a range of disciplinary backgrounds that the concept of care within our sector must stretch beyond the guardianship of cultural heritage, to the care of and concern for those around us.
And so what role does ‘care’ play in a more holistic sense in our work? How do we care for each other, both within our institutional communities but also in those that look outward? Is the role of the Curator being recast to include expanded responsibilities, or does the act of curating now encompass a variety of non-traditional activities, pursued by people who may not be identified specifically as Curators?
At a time when an increasing sense of responsibility within the profession is confounded by ever-greater cuts to funding and resources for our cultural institutions, is it possible for our organisations to care sufficiently for staff, artists and collaborators, as well as the audiences and public they serve? We do not seek consensus in searching for answers to these questions – rather we hope to provoke substantive, productive discussion.
We invite contributions from across a range of disciplines which seek to explore these questions and challenges. We welcome contributions in the traditional format of presenting a paper, but also those of a more discursive nature, prompting open discussion based on recent, ongoing or potential projects and case studies. We also welcome contributions in other forms such as performance and time-based media.
Subject areas and proposed discussions can include, but are not limited to: mental health and wellbeing, financial and collaborative partnerships, socially engaged exhibitions and curation projects, creating a legacy of ‘care’, representation within collections, disability and practice. We encourage proposals and interdisciplinary case studies from museum and gallery professionals, artists, health professionals, academics and independent scholars. Contributions, which can be submitted individually or in collaboration, should be a maximum of 15 minutes in length.
All potential contributors will be contacted by mid-April regarding their submissions.
Register of expertise
The register of expertise is a database of professionals engaged with British art. The register is designed to enable the exchange of knowledge and expertise and facilitate contact between those with common interests or areas of research.
British Art Network sub-groups focus on specific topics of British art. The programmes of activity are led and hosted by network members. The sub-group initiative is designed to enable British Art Network members, who work within specialist subject areas, to come together and continue conversations and collaborations beyond one-day network events. Membership to the sub-groups is open to British Art Network members who have a professional research interest or specialism in the group subject area.
The number of British Art Network sub-groups has increased from seven to eleven.
Full details on each sub-group are below, including contact information for the sub-group lead members, should you wish to enquire about joining a group.
The Black British Art Network brings together curators, artists, researchers and academics interested in critical race issues as they pertain to the histories, collection, production, consumption and display of art in Britain and its audiences.
Founded in 2017, phase one focused specifically on responding to and supporting networking and audience engagement around a series of exhibitions that explored key figures and moments in the development of ‘black art’ in Britain. These included consideration of the series of exhibitions that took place in early 2017 across Spike Island and Modern Art Oxford to explore the practices of Lubaina Himid and the wider BLK art group as archived and displayed in The Place is Here at Nottingham Contemporary and MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art). We also explored some of the issues around engaging audiences for Black art in Britain through a discussion of Tate Modern’s Soul of a Nation and the International Curators Forum exhibition of the Diaspora Pavilion: Venice to Wolverhampton.
Phase two of the network will focus specifically on the theme of Confronting the Past for a Sustainable Future which will be explored in a variety of ways, including thinking through the most appropriate strategies for historic collections to confront their own uncomfortable economic origins (specifically the legacies of the slave economy) and/or historically racialised assumptions of display. It might mean finding new strategies for working with contemporary diaspora artists to address legacies of the slave economy and of Empire, or critically reviewing past exhibitions and what they may or may not have achieved, as a way of informing future exhibitions and displays.
The Black British Art Network is led by Dorothy Price (Professor of History of Art, University of Bristol) and Helen Legg (Director, Tate Liverpool).
If you are interested in joining the sub-group please contact Professor Dorothy Price (University of Bristol) firstname.lastname@example.org
The aim of this sub-group is to promote a holistic and collaborative approach to looking at and thinking about British art in historic houses. It is led by a team of co-organisers representing different parts of the sector: museums and galleries; heritage; and academia. The sub-group is not conceived as one exclusively for people working in historic houses, nor solely for those studying British art in this context. On the contrary, the ambition is that those who do not normally operate in this sphere will find value and interest in looking at art works in a new light. It is not a sub-group defined by periodisation or genre, but one characterised by a phenomenological approach to British art, which can be productively applied to a variety of object types and contexts.
A series of study days will be held during Spring/Summer 2020 at Audley End House & Gardens, Brodsworth Hall, and Wrest Park.
The group is led by Dr Peter Moore (Curator of Collections & Interiors, English Heritage), with Eleanor Matthews (Curator of Collections & Interiors, English Heritage), Professor Kate Retford (Department of History of Art, Birkbeck, University of London), and Dr Susanna Avery-Quash (Senior Research Curator (History of Collections), National Gallery).
The focus for this sub-group is the study of British drawings, defined in the broadest terms of medium and chronology. It aims to stimulate discussion, to foster productive collaborations between curators, academics, researchers and practitioners and to capitalise on new interest in what is proving to be a growing area of research and scholarship within UK museums, galleries and universities. Previous workshops have taken place at Tate Britain and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Plans are underway for a further series of workshops to be held in Edinburgh, Windsor and London between Autumn 2019 – Summer 2020. The workshops will focus on sketchbooks, watercolours and the role of drawing in art education respectively and will explore strategies of research, interpretation and access.
The group is led by Charlotte Topsfield (Senior Curator, British Drawings and Prints, National Galleries of Scotland), Rosie Razzall (Curator of Prints and Drawings, Royal Collection Trust) and Annette Wickham (Curator of Works on Paper, Royal Academy of Arts).
If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Rosie Razzall (Curator of Prints and Drawings, Royal Collection Trust) email@example.com
The British Genre and Narrative Painting,1750-1870 sub-group is led by Liverpool Hope University. The aim of the group is to bring together scholars to share expertise and research ideas on this neglected topic in order to build knowledge and increase opportunities to display nineteenth-century British narrative and genre painting for audiences in the UK and beyond.
The group will explore topics such as:
relationships between eighteenth-century practices and tradition and early nineteenth-century and Victorian painting
the contested meanings of terms such as ‘genre’ and ‘narrative’ in the visual arts of the period
the role of the Royal Academy in the production and display of genre and narrative painting
the ways in which genre and narrative painting related to contemporary ideas around sentimentality
the aesthetic and pictorial values of genre and narrative painting
responses to and receptions of genre and narrative painting (both in the given period and subsequently)
the work of neglected genre and narrative painters
The group is led by Dr Amelia Yeates (Senior Lecturer in Art History, Liverpool Hope University).
If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Dr Amelia Yeates (Senior Lecturer in Art History, Liverpool Hope University) firstname.lastname@example.org
This sub-group is dedicated to British landscape art. In 2019-20 we are expanding from our original emphasis on the period 1800-1850 to also look at landscape and the environment in modern and contemporary art. The group’s activities continue to consider the history of landscape art in Britain in the context of scientific discoveries and the reshaping of aesthetic ideas. We now want to also look at the continued and deepening environmental crisis since the 19th century and its impact on landscape art, and how curators in charge of relevant collections can respond in their research and exhibition practice. The sub-group will investigate landscape from a regional perspective using examples from schools or groups of artists around the country.
We hope to attract interest from curators responsible for similar collections to Bristol and Colchester & Ipswich, where the sub-group originated, and specialists seeking innovative approaches to the study of historic and contemporary landscape art. Through study days and collection visits we want to raise questions and develop activities that will be transferable to the study of British landscape art in general and link to current issues.
The Landscape sub-group is led by Jenny Gaschke (Curator of Fine Art pre-1900, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery) in collaboration with Emma Roodhouse (Collections & Learning Curator, Colchester & Ipswich Museums).
If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Dr Jenny Gaschke (Curator of Fine Art pre-1900, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery) email@example.com
The British Murals sub-group is a group of academics, museum and heritage professionals with a research interest in the work of British mural painters, and continental artists working in Britain, employed to decorate the palaces and country houses of the 17th and early 18th centuries. This subject remains poorly documented and misunderstood and the grand baroque schemes of artists such as Verrio, Laguerre and Thornhill have often been neglected, covered up or destroyed completely.
Since 2016, we have organised visits to surviving mural locations, and hosted workshops to discuss the history, meaning, preservation and interpretation of murals, aiming to increase scholarly and popular awareness of this neglected genre in British art. Our website acts as a research hub, publishing news of relevant seminars and conferences, and offering researchers a chance to ask questions and posit new ideas.
The sub-group is led by Brett Dolman (Curator (Collections), Historic Royal Palaces), Dr Lydia Hamlett (Academic Director of History of Art, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge) and Dr Richard Johns (Lecturer in the History of Art and Director of the British Art Research School, University of York).
For further details, and news about future events, please visit www.britishmurals.org or contact Brett Dolman, Curator (Collections) Historic Royal Palaces, Hampton Court Palace, Apt 25, Surrey KT8 9AU firstname.lastname@example.org
The British Women Artists, 1750–1950 sub-group focuses on women’s artistic productivity in a variety of mediums. It has been established because, during the last two decades, a number of feminist scholars and curators have stressed and deplored the neglect of, and sought to make more visible, the work of British women artists of this period but there is still a relative lack of knowledge about these women compared to their male counterparts which forms a barrier to the display of their work. The sub-group is founded on the belief that what is needed in order to understand the integral roles of these women in artistic developments is sustained knowledge exchange between university-based scholars and museum/gallery-based curators/researchers.
The group is led by Dr Katie Jane Tyreman Herrington and based at the University of York.
The Contemporary Art in Scotland sub-group aims to forge and strengthen connections between researchers, curators and artists who are interested in exploring the longer histories of contemporary practice as they have developed in relation to the country. While the vibrant narratives of art in Glasgow and the ‘Glasgow Miracle’ are now well established, there are many stories and perspectives that still remain to be researched, documented and shared.
Founded in 2017, the Contemporary Art in Scotland sub-group aims to provide a welcoming space where current research from writing to art practice can be presented and developed. Previous sessions have addressed transnationalism, art-science collaborations, and institutional challenges.
The group is led by Dr Catherine Spencer (Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art, University of St Andrews) and is run from the Centre for Contemporary Art at the University of St Andrews.
If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Dr Catherine Spencer (Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art, University of St Andrews) email@example.com
Group Work: Contemporary Art and Feminism explores the legacies and histories of group work in art since the 1970s, with a focus on feminist practices. Questions under consideration include: what would a (feminist) art history look like if it refused to tell a history of individual artists? And how did the collectivity inherent in much feminist organising in the 1970s and 1980s feed into artistic practice? This project thinks through the legacies of consciousness-raising in art, as well as other political group work that intersect with feminist politics, including the peace movement, anti-racist and women of colour activism, and lesbian, gay and transgender activism. The emphasis will be on feminist-influenced art practices from the 1970s onwards, exploring UK feminist communities and their international connections.
This sub-group will hold a series of events to consider the implications of approaching the art world from the point of view of the relationships, collaborations and networks that support artistic production, display and reception.
The sub-group is based at the Centre for Visual Culture, University of Cambridge and forms part of a wider Group Work research network, inaugurated through a series of events at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2019, supported by the Centre for American Art. As a sub-group of the British Art Network, Group Work aims to further develop the research network beyond the academy and to provide focused events on issues in the collection and display of feminist-influenced art. Whilst the sub-group is based at the Centre for Visual Culture, University of Cambridge, it is partnered by the Women’s Art Library, Goldsmiths.
The group is led by Dr Catherine Grant (Senior Lecturer, Goldsmiths, University of London), Dr Amy Tobin (Curator of Exhibitions, Events and Research, Kettle’s Yard, and Lecturer in the History of Art, University of Cambridge) and Dr Rachel Warriner (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Courtauld Institute of Art).
Post-war British painting is shaped by the complex shift in aesthetic values since the 1950s and the many social and political changes in Britain in this period. We can rethink the status of painting in our present era, dominated as it is by conceptual and digital art, by making this history of post-war painting a focus of study.
Our regional galleries hold excellent collections of such work, ripe for further research. Focusing our attention on regional collections presents a deliberate challenge to the centre-periphery model that dominates the narrative of British art: where artistic production and reception is said to congregate only in certain well-established locations.
With this sub-group, we aim to rethink the geography of aesthetic practice in post-war Britain, and tell a new story about how new forms of painting were developed and appreciated during this time.
To share our current academic research on post-war painting and regionalism, and develop productive conversations that move this research forward.
To showcase the amazing examples of post-war painting held in our regional collections by pooling resources, conducting collections-based research, and networking.
To work collaboratively, across the Higher Education and museums and galleries sectors, developing joint activities that allow us to share knowledge and expertise beyond our own disciplines.
The group is led by Sophie Hatchwell (Lecturer in History of Art, University of Birmingham), Hana Leaper (John Moores Painting Prize Senior Lecturer, Liverpool John Moores University), Julie Brown (Collections Curator, New Art Gallery Walsall) and Alex Patterson (Assistant Curator of Fine Art, National Museums Liverpool).
If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Sophie Hatchwell (Lecturer in History of Art, University of Birmingham) firstname.lastname@example.org
This sub-group, established by the Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool, will provide a forum for the discussion and dissemination of knowledge related to Queer British Art. It aims to nurture relationships between academics, curators, educators and artists to support Queer programming within institutions and to enhance understanding of the richness of Queer British art history.
The 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act (1967) in 2017 saw an unprecedented level of visibility for LGBT+ and Queer artists and themes in exhibitions, publications and other media. This revealed the significant number of curators and scholars working in this area and the public appetite for programming of this kind. This sub-group seeks to bring together the informal networks and conversations that developed that year between curators, scholars and artists to maintain this visibility and advocate for greater research and programming in this area.
The sub-group focuses on both historic and contemporary art, including notable artists whose work reflected or was influenced by their sexuality or gender identity, and the networks that developed between them. The group is also concerned with art and art histories that relate to LGBT+ history more broadly or that hold particular relevance to LGBT+ communities, as well as contemporary art that engages with themes of sexuality, gender identity and queer theory.
The group is led by Charlotte Keenen McDonald (Curator of British Art, National Museums Liverpool).
For 2019–20, British Art Network members answered an open call for applications to run three new network seminar series. Each of the three series of seminars will consist of four separate events, which will take the form of conversations, panels or informal talks, with time for discussion.
The events will bring together professionals working with British art across the UK and at different stages in the careers, to share knowledge and bring collections to life with new research and fresh insights. They aim is to go beyond the conventional academic seminar to provide imaginative approaches to curatorial research, by identifying topics speaking to a wide range of curatorial needs and interests.
2019-20 Seminar Series bursaries have been awarded to:
Imperial Subjects: (Post)colonial conversations between South Asia and Wales To be led by Glynn Vivian Art Gallery
Art Science Nature To be led by Colchester and Ipswich Museums
Decolonising British Art – Decentring, Resituating and Reviewing Artworks and Collections To be led by University of the Arts London
More information on the seminar series, as well as the wider programme of British Art Network seminars and conferences, will be shared in due course.
Early Career Curators Group
The Early Career Curators Group is designed to create a supportive forum for the next generation of curators in the UK, enabling a group of peers to come together and share experiences and thinking around curating British art.
The British Art Network has awarded bursary funding to its second cohort, this time of fifteen early career curators. Across a one-year period (June 2019-20) the network will seek to connect the group with expertise in the field of British art through a variety of events and resources.
The bursary funding will support attendance at workshops, as well as self-facilitated research and engagement with the wider British Art Network programme.
The group will also deliver a seminar for the wider British Art Network, to be held in June 2020 and complete a related research project.
The British Art Network circulates a newsletter three times a year, to keep members informed of upcoming events and opportunities relating to British art. The newsletter covers aspects of network activity alongside relevant external exhibitions and events, opportunities and scholarly articles.
Newsletter nineteen: December 2019 PDF [2.42 Mb] The second newsletter from the jointly-led network includes features on BAN activity, member profiles and a calendar of upcoming events.
Newsletter eighteen: September 2019 PDF [2.88 Mb] The inaugural newsletter for the jointly-led network announces a number of the events and activities that will form part of the programme to June 2020.
Newsletter four: July 2014 PDF [338Kb] The fourth British Art Network newsletter is themed around William Hogarth’s Triptych for St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol and the challenges faced by large and difficult artworks
Newsletter three: March 2014 PDF [255Kb] The third British Art Network Newsletter is themed around Joseph Wright of Derby and Single Artist Collections