British Art Network

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

three adults sat at a table making notes

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.

Upcoming Opportunities

Deadline for proposals: 1 November 2019

The British Art Network invites proposals for contributions to a day-long conference entitled Research and the Museum Ecosystem to be hosted in Cardiff by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales on 19 March 2020. Submissions are welcome from curators, academics, artists, independent scholars, museum and heritage sector professionals and beyond.

This conference, focusing upon arts-based research in the museum, gallery and academic worlds, is intended to provide a fresh opportunity to investigate how the concept of a museum ecosystem might offer an alternative to, or even an improvement upon, more traditional frameworks of curatorial practice.

The term ecosystem was coined by biologists in the 1930s to identify the ways in which living organisms interacted with their inert environment to form a dynamic and regenerative community. Since then the term has also been used to describe human ecosystems, which offer opportunities to shape and encourage energy flows, and to cope creatively with transition – or even catastrophe. While the concept of human ecosystems has been explored in relation to the workings of academic and museum circles in recent years, discussion has gravitated towards science-based research rather than the arts and humanities.

This conference places the concept of the museum ecosystem – and its relation to curatorial research and activity – at centre stage. A ‘museum ecosystem’ can be understood in relation to a variety of evolving, responsive and sometimes regenerative forms of interaction: across and within the environments of individual museums and galleries; across and between a series of interconnected institutional spaces within a particular locality or region; or between such institutions and their wider environments.

We encourage discussion on all these topics, particularly those designed to open up new perspectives on how such ecosystems have shaped, and might in future shape, curatorial and scholarly research as they relate to collections, collections care and management.

Possible themes and topics to be explored in the conference are:

  • The museum ecosystem as an entity: dynamism versus stability
  • The impact of the ecosystem on curatorial and scholarly research culture
  • How to shape a research-related museum ecosystem through the exchange of ideas, collaborations and partnerships
  • Research in the museum ecosystem in the context of different management models in the university, the commercial sector and civic sphere
  • The narrative and justification for research partnerships and collaboration
  • Risk-taking and the issue of perceived success and failure
  • Expenditure of finance and resource in the museum ecosystem in supporting research funding
  • The issue of what constitutes ‘research’ and who might be recognised as a ‘researcher’ within the context of the ecosystem model

Contributions should take the form of 15-minute individual or joint presentations and should address subjects central to the conference’s stated theme of research relating to the museum ecosystem. The focus of contributions may be art-historical, museological, artistic, theoretical, case-study based, or reflective but all will be expected to have an interrogative and critical dimension. The day is intended to facilitate creative dialogues across and between disciplines, individuals and institutions, so we would welcome especially contributions that create opportunities for such exchanges.

Proposals should take the form of a written statement of no more than 500 words, stating the research questions, the means by which these will be addressed, and the relevance of the proposer’s research, practice and/or experience in addressing these questions. Short, one-paragraph biographies of speakers should also be included at the bottom of the proposal (this is in addition to the 500 words allotted for the proposal).

Deadline for proposals: 1 November 2019

Please send Word or PDF documents to Jessica Juckes, Coordinator, British Art Network, at jessica.juckes@tate.org.uk


2 adults talking to one another, each holding a glass of white wine in front of a vase of colourful flowers

We have recently awarded bursary funding relating to three strands of activity taking place to June 2020:

  • British Art Network sub-groups
  • Three seminar series, each comprising four events, organised by network members across the UK
  • The second cohort of the Early Career Curators Group

More information on these areas of activity, including how to join British Art Network sub-groups, can be found below.

In addition to these activities, the British Art Network will be organising further seminars and conferences, details of which will be shared with the network and online in due course.

a panel of four adults sat in front of an audience. There is a table in front of them with microphones and bottles of water

Contact Us

Please let us know if you are interested in becoming a member of the British Art Network or in joining the Register of Expertise. Interest can be registered by emailing BritishArtNetwork@tate.org.uk.

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 Register of Expertise PDF [1.97 Mb]

BRITISH ART NETWORK SUB GROUPS

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.

Lubaina Himid Naming the Money 2004

Lubaina Himid
Naming the Money 2004
Installation view of Navigation Charts, Spike Island, Bristol 2017
Courtesy of the artist, Hollybush Gardens, and National Museums, Liverpool
Photo: Stuart Whipps

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).

Contact Information

  • If you are interested in joining the sub-group please contact Professor Dorothy Price (University of Bristol) d.price@bristol.ac.uk

Benjamin West (1738-1820)
Katherine Clayton, Lady Howard de Walden (detail)
English Heritage, Audley End
Image: Google Arts & Culture

New for 2019-20

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).

CONTACT INFORMATION

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) from Grand Canal and Giudecca Sketchbook

Alfred Ansell (b. 1858)
Life drawing of a reclining male nude, 1886
Royal Academy of Arts
photo © Prudence Cummings Associates Ltd

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).

Contact Information

  • If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Rosie Razzall (Curator of Prints and Drawings, Royal Collection Trust) rosie.razzal@rct.uk
Painting by William Nicol of a woman and a young girl sat together reading from a book

William Nicol,
Quiet, 1860
Image courtesy of York Museums Trust

New for 2019-20

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).

CONTACT INFORMATION

  • If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Dr Amelia Yeates (Senior Lecturer in Art History, Liverpool Hope University) yeatesa@hope.ac.uk

Samuel Jackson Avon Gorge at Sunset c. 1825

Samuel Jackson
Avon Gorge at Sunset c. 1825
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, inv.no. K5051

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).

Contact Information

  • If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Dr Jenny Gaschke (Curator of Fine Art pre-1900, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery) jenny.gaschke@bristol.gov.uk
Sir James Thornhill, ‘A Ceiling and Wall Decoration’ c.1715–25
Sir James Thornhill
A Ceiling and Wall Decoration c.1715–25
Tate

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).

Contact information

  • 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 brett.dolman@hrp.org.uk

Gwen John, ‘Self-Portrait’ 1902
Gwen John
Self-Portrait 1902
Tate

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.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Catherine Street Hidden Physical 2015

Catherine Street
Hidden Physical 2015
HD video, 28 min 24 sec. Featured as part of the installation Muscle Theory

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.

Contact Information

  • If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Dr Catherine Spencer (Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art, University of St Andrews) ces24@st-andrews.ac.uk
  • More information can be found on the Centre for Contemporary Art website.
Image of artwork by Kate Walker, showing newspaper cut-outs of anonymous women artist cards for collecting and swapping

Kate Walker
Notoriously Anonymous Artistes of 1977
Made for A Portrait of the Artist as a Housewife, ICA, 10 June–7 July 1977
Courtesy of the Estate of Kate Walker

New for 2019-20

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).

CONTACT INFORMATION

Photograph of the painting 'Moths on a blue path' by John Michael Wishart
​John Michael Wishart
Moths on a Blue Path 1963
© the artist's estate
Photo credit: The New Art Gallery Walsall

New for 2019-20

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.

Our aims:

  • 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).

CONTACT INFORMATION

  • If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Sophie Hatchwell (Lecturer in History of Art, University of Birmingham) s.hatchwell@bham.ac.uk

New for 2019-20

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).

CONTACT INFORMATION

Seminar Series

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.

Our Newsletter

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.

Sponsor logos

The British Art Network is supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, public funding provided by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and Tate.

Past Events

Listen to the audio recordings

Recordings of seminars up to October 2016 are available via the link above.

Audio recordings of past seminars are available upon request. Please email BritishArtNetwork@tate.org.uk stating which event recording you are interested in.

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