National Gallery and Art Fund Appoint Four Assistant Curators to work with UK-wide Partners for Bicentenary Jeremy Deller Commission
Four Assistant Curators have been appointed by the National Gallery, with support from Art Fund, to work on a commission by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller for the National Gallery’s Bicentenary year. 'The Triumph of Art', a UK-wide performance work, will mark the culmination of NG200 – the National Gallery’s year-long festival of art to celebrate its 200th anniversary.
Each Art Fund Assistant Curator will be seconded to one of four partner organisations working on the commission – The Box in Plymouth, Mostyn in Llandudno, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee and The Playhouse in Derry/Londonderry – and all have strong links to the culture of the area and community where they will be based. In a brand-new model of partnership for the National Gallery, the Art Fund Assistant Curators will have extra capacity built into their roles to support the partner organisations in their day-to-day work. They will take up their posts from next week.
Inspired by the National Gallery’s collection, the Art Fund Assistant Curators will help bring local traditions and history to the work being developed by Deller. Drawing on themes of celebration, commemoration and demonstration, Deller, together with the Art Fund Assistant Curators and with community involvement at each of the partners, will work to develop a near year-long public programme of collective and interactive activities. 'The Triumph of Art' will culminate in a performance organised by each of the partners in their locality. A major final performance will take place in July 2025, taking over Trafalgar Square with celebration and rounding off the Gallery’s 200th birthday.
The four Art Fund Assistant Curators selected to work with partners for 'The Triumph of Art' are:
Rhys Morgan – working with The Box, Plymouth, England
Rhys Morgan is an Artist, Curator and Producer from Plymouth. A graduate from Falmouth and Goldsmiths Universities, his research and practice focus on community engagement, participatory and performance art, and the Queer lived experience. He has been working as Public Realm Producer for Take A Part in Plymouth’s East End, as well as a Director of the Plymouth Art Weekender.
Rhys has been active as Director of several arts organisations in the South West, including CAMP and Visual Arts Plymouth. As a Producer, he recently led the delivery of community engagement activities at the British Art Show 9 working with art collective Cooking Sections. He also works with Queer District Collective to programme First Thursday, their monthly test space for emerging artists. His own art project ‘Seaweed in the Fruit Locker’ is an award-winning amateur choir of LGBTQIA+ community members appropriating and expanding the tradition of sea shanties, who have gone on to perform across the country and lead to Rhys’ selection as part of this year’s New Contemporaries cohort. His practice is based out of his studio at KARST.
Having started out as a painter, one of Rhys’ favourite paintings is Frans Hals’s 'The Laughing Cavalier', of which he wore a brooch to his job interview.
Joanna Wright – working with Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales
Joanna Wright is a documentary maker and researcher from north Wales. Having grown up in Llandudno, and a regular visitor to Mostyn, she trained in fine art at Camberwell College, University of the Arts, and in Documentary at the National Film and Television School. She has extensive experience working with artists, contractors, galleries, community partners and public facing programmes alongside managing projects in the public domain. A Welsh speaker, she has led on large- scale community and documentary projects, including work documenting the decommissioning of the nuclear power station in Eryri National Park, working with schools, unions, government agencies, the National Park Authority and local and national archives.
Joanna’s research and teaching include documentary and performative practice, particularly work in non-traditional spaces, collaborative practices, and curatorial approaches that bring non-traditional practices into galleries. A recent hybrid performance was made in collaboration with dancers, climbers, immersive audio designers, creative technologists, audio describers and a youth arts organisation for blind artists. She has worked with the Centre for Alternative Technology and Being Human Festival where she explored arts/science collaborations on zero-carbon futures, and bird migration. Joanna is an Artist-Research Fellow at the Open Documentary Lab & Co-Creation Studio at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she co-convenes the access and disability innovation working group.
Laura McSorley – working with Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee, Scotland
Laura McSorley is a Curator, Producer from the Black Isle (or Scottish Highlands). After graduating from Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Laura spent two years running GeneratorPROJECTS, an internationally renowned, artist-led gallery and exhibition space in Dundee. She has previously worked as Programme Assistant at the Edinburgh Art Festival and is currently working with a group of young people for the Creative Community Network project with Dundee Heritage Trust. In 2022, Laura was elected to the British Art Network’s Emerging Curators Group and has recently been appointed to the board of the Bothy Project – a charity that operates in a set of rural contexts to provide creative residencies in bespoke, off-grid bothies across Scotland.
Laura’s curatorial practice has been informed by lived experience as a working-class person, she specialises in supporting artists at the early stages of their career and is keen to undertake projects that focus on generating community, hospitality and joyful moments of togetherness. She has research interests that include tracing the impact of artist-led ecologies and how artists can work in non-visual and sensory ways. Laura also works collaboratively with artist Saoirse Amira Anis under the guise ‘two of cups’ where they have produced a series of performance events and gatherings titled A Very Heavenly Social.
Wendy Blemings – working with The Playhouse, Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Wendy Blemings is a Producer and Production Manager specialising in outdoor arts and spectacle event production. She has strong foundations in media, with a career starting in print as a popular culture feature writer, leading to training in radio, commercial production, and film production. She is interested in non-formal education, using film as an educational tool to deliver creative opportunities for those who do not align with mainstream education, such as school refusers, marginalised and traveller communities.
Wendy is a qualified pyrotechnician, and has extensive experience in festival and arts event production, most recently as Event Manager for the ‘Belfast Trad Festival’. With a particular interest in music, movement and performing arts, Wendy’s experience ranges from circus to science. She has worked with many of the leading arts producers in Britain and Ireland on national large scale event productions, as well as festivals and tours including Manchester and Scotland. Wendy has significant experience working on the ground and at scale with communities in Derry-Londonderry, primarily as Participation Co-ordinator on The Return of Colmcille, produced by Walk the Plank, which engaged over 1,000 participants. She also curated the Community Engagement programme for About Us (unboxed) and has worked on site specific projects with artists such as such as Spencer Tunick, Oliver Jeffers and Suzanne Lacy.
In 2009 Wendy sailed across the Atlantic and this life-changing experience has informed her environmental values and love of nature and outdoors. She is passionate about human rights and ensuring arts and cultural opportunities are accessible to all in an ever-changing society.
Emily Stone, Project Curator at the National Gallery, said, ‘In these Assistant Curators we have four very talented and creative individuals. We’re excited to see what they create working with Jeremy and our partners. We’re very grateful to the support of Art Fund, helping us realise this new model for co-working, investing in curatorial expertise, and bringing the National Gallery to all four corners of the UK.'
Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund, said, ‘Two hundred years after its founding, the National Gallery’s world-leading collection continues to inspire new ideas and new art. I’m delighted that Art Fund is supporting these four talented curators to develop their curatorial skills and expertise as part of 'The Triumph of Art'. Art Fund has a long-held commitment to curatorial development and to bringing new voices and perspectives into museum collections and programming. The four Art Fund Assistant Curators will work closely with the brilliant artist Jeremy Deller and with cultural organisations and local communities across the country, from Llandudno to Dundee, to share art with new audiences.’
Notes to editors
About the National Gallery
The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Bellini, Cezanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free. More at nationalgallery.org.uk
More information and book tickets for events at nationalgallery.org.uk
Features and film are at nationalgallery.org.uk/stories
If you wish to support NG200 and the work of the Gallery you can find out more by visiting https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/support-us. National Gallery Membership is another way to support us - not only does each Member enjoy access to all the Gallery has to offer, but also yearlong free entry to exhibitions, priority booking and exclusive events online and in-Gallery. www.nationalgallery.org.uk/membership
About Art Fund
Art Fund is the national charity for art, helping museums and people to share in great art and culture for 120 years. Art Fund raises millions of pounds every year to help the UK’s museums, galleries and historic houses. The charity funds art, enabling the UK’s museums to buy and share exciting works, connect with their communities and inspire the next generation. It builds audiences, with its National Art Pass opening doors to great culture. And it amplifies the museum sector through the world’s largest museum prize, Museum of the Year, and creative events that bring the UK’s museums together. Art Fund is people-powered by 135,000 members who buy a National Art Pass, and the donors, trusts and foundations who support the charity.
The National Art Pass provides free or discounted entry to over 850 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and Art Quarterly magazine.
About Jeremy Deller
Jeremy Deller (b. 1966, London) studied History of Art at the Courtauld Institute and at Sussex University. He began making artworks in the early 1990s, often showing them outside conventional galleries. In 1993, while his parents were on holiday, he secretly used the family home for an exhibition titled Open Bedroom.
Four years later he produced the musical performance Acid Brass with the Williams-Fairey Band and began making art in collaboration with other people. In 2000, with fellow artist Alan Kane, Deller began a collection of items that illustrate the passions and pastimes of people from across Britain and the social classes. Treading a fine line between art and anthropology, Folk Archive is a collection of objects which touch on diverse subjects such as Morris Dancing, gurning competitions, and political demonstrations. The Folk Archive became part of the British Council Collection in 2007 and has since toured to Shanghai, Paris and Milan.
In 2001 Deller staged 'The Battle of Orgreave', commissioned by Artangel and Channel 4, directed by Mike Figgis. The work involved a re-enactment which brought together around 1,000 veteran miners and members of historical societies to restage the 1984 clash between miners and police in Orgreave, Yorkshire. In 2004, Deller won the Turner Prize for 'Memory Bucket' (2003), a documentary about Texas. He has since made several documentaries on subjects ranging from the exotic wrestler Adrian Street to the die-hard international fan base of the band Depeche Mode.
In 2009 Deller undertook a road trip across the US, from New York to Los Angeles, towing a car destroyed in a bomb attack in Baghdad and accompanied by an Iraqi citizen and a US war veteran. The project, 'It Is What It Is', was presented at Creative Time and the New Museum, New York and the car is now part of the Imperial War Museum’s collection. In the same year he staged 'Procession', in Manchester, involving participants, commissioned floats, choreographed music and performances creating an odd and celebratory spectacle. During the summer of 2012 'Sacrilege', Deller’s life-size inflatable version of Stonehenge – a co-commission between Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art and the Mayor of London – toured around the UK to great public acclaim.
In 2013 Deller represented Britain at the Venice Biennale with a multi-faceted exhibition titled, 'English Magic'. Encompassing notions of good and bad magic, socialism, war, popular culture, archaeology and tea, the exhibition gave a view of the UK that was both combative and affectionate. His First World War memorial work - 'We’re Here Because We’re Here' (2016) and the documentary 'Everybody in the Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984–1992' (2019), have influenced the conventional map of contemporary art. Most recently Deller has published 'Art is Magic', a book that documents key works in his career alongside the art, pop music, film, politics and history that have inspired him.
About The Box, Plymouth
The Box opened in September 2020, the result of an ambitious £47m regeneration project which has transformed Plymouth’s former City Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library and St Luke’s Church. We have already welcomed over 575,000 visitors.
With a vision focused on ‘reimagining the future through the past’, a programme that combines the best of contemporary art with significant art, natural history, human history, film, photographic and archive collections, plus social, retail, education and research spaces, The Box is a fantastic resource for the city and the South West. Working with artists and audiences, we are committed to shaping civic pride, finding creative ways to engage with those who are least able to access culture, and using our distinctive blend of museum, gallery and archive to ask questions about and explore the issues relating to the world we live in.
Mostyn is a free to enter, public art gallery in Llandudno, Wales. From its beautiful Edwardian terracotta frontage to the RIBA award-winning modern architecture within, Mostyn combines art and architecture as a setting for its programme of outstanding international contemporary art, shown within its galleries and online. Their community engagement programme includes a diverse and accessible range of talks, tours and workshops, and the renowned Siop (shop) supports over 400 artists and makers from Wales and across the UK.
About The Playhouse
The Playhouse is one of the most vibrant theatres and arts organisations in Northern Ireland, established to meet the needs and aspirations of people and communities at a time of conflict. We have since grown to become a national asset: an award-winning producing theatre, an empowering centre for learning and a global leader in the arts and peaceful change. We matter to our locality and to the international communities we connect with and we continually innovate to offer a space to make meaning and a place that’s here for good. We believe in inclusion, in inspiring creativity and opening up the imaginative world of theatre, dance, art and music for everyone to enjoy. The Playhouse is core funded by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, Derry City and Strabane District Council, and Community Relations Council.
About Duncan of Jordanstone
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) is part of the University of Dundee and is one of the UK’s top art and design schools.
The College is ranked Number 1 in Scotland and in the Top 10 in the UK (Complete University Guide 2024).
In the UK Research Assessment Framework 2021, research at DJCAD was rated as top in the UK for Environment and top in Scotland for Impact.
Imogen Sebba, Press Manager NG200, email@example.com
National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Publicity images can be obtained from https://press.nationalgallery.org.uk/