Head of Collection Displays (Victorian to Contemporary), Senior Curator, 20th Century Collections
I have responsibility for the care and display of the twentieth-century collection, and also oversee the Victorian to Contemporary periods as Head of Collection Displays. I started at the Gallery as Assistant Curator working across all periods, and have organised displays on subjects as diverse as the portrait drawings of Sir Francis Chantrey, the publication of D.H.Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Michael Landy: Art World Portraits, Humphrey Ocean: A handbook of modern life and Votes Women, a touring exhibition with the National Trust. I also contribute to the Gallery’s commissioning programme, working with artists and sitters on portraits including Shami Chakrabarti by Gillian Wearing and Sir James Dyson by Julian Opie. In 2013 I curated Laura Knight Portraits, the first exhibition devoted to portraits by this fascinating twentieth-century British artist and the first exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery to focus on a single woman painter.
I studied History of Art at the University of Bristol and before my appointment as Assistant Curator at the National Portrait Gallery in 2005 I worked as museum assistant at the Wallace Collection and documentation officer at the Holburne Museum in Bath. I have a masters degree in English Literature from King’s College, London, focussing on the relationship between forms of biography/autobiography and portraiture.
I continue to be interested by the relationship between written life-stories and visual portraits and when curating the exhibition of portraits by Dame Laura Knight in 2013 I found wonderful material in Knight’s two autobiographies. Research interests include portraits of 19th and 20th century female suffragists, including the portrait of Dame Christabel Pankhurst by Ethel Wright (1908) (see blog), women artists and British Academic portrait painters working between 1900 and 1939.
Publications include an Introduction to Humphrey Ocean: A handbook of modern life, Lecturis, 2012, and Laura Knight Portraits, exhibition catalogue, National Portrait Gallery, 2013. Recent publications include an essay on portraits of Suffragettes for the forthcoming publication: Suffrage and Visual Culture: Art, Politics and Enterprise, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2018.