The Artist Researcher: artists and museums working together

Past Project 2019

A one-day series of panel discussions that looked at building and managing relationships between contemporary visual artists and museums in the UK. Aimed particularly at smaller museums looking to broaden access and think differently about their collections.

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Date: Friday 7 June 2019 9.30am – 4pm
Venue: The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AZ


Museums have always been a source of inspiration and knowledge for artists, and a refocus for many from ‘making’ for an object based practice to a more open-ended research driven approach has led to increased appetite for access to museum archives and the specialist staff oversee them. ‘Artist as researcher, artists and Museum working together’ convened arts practitioners and museum representatives in a series of panel discussions to consider the mutual benefits and challenges to artist, institution and audience in such collaborations.

Aimed particularly at smaller museums and reflecting on the Artquest research residency programmes in partnership with the Foundling Museum and the Horniman Museum in London, this day-long series of panel discussions will explore:

  • The motivations that visual artists and museums have in working together
  • Practical considerations around permitting physical access to collections
  • Understanding the benefits to a range of audiences and visitors
  • Making the case for to senior management and funders for supporting such programmes


9.30am: registration and refreshments

10am: Introduction from Artquest

10.15am: Panel 1: ‘A Collections Perspective’
Museum professionals from the Foundling Museum, Horniman Museum on the benefits to museums of working with artists and some of the practical issues of the relationship.
Chair: Nick Kaplony – Artquest. Panelists Tim Corum – Horniman Museum and Gardens, Alison Duke – Collections Manager, Foundling Museum, Bethany Haynes – Senior Producer, Battersea Arts Centre

11.15am: panel 2: ‘Artists Perspectives’
Artists who have worked with museums engaging with their collections through research residencies or similar projects talked on the benefits they gained, their motivations for working with museums, and their relationships with audiences during and after research.
Chair: Caro Howell – Foundling Museum. Panelists Helena Hunter – Artist and Horniman Residency recipient, Tom Railton – Artists and Foundling Residency recipient, Clare Twomey – Artist

12.15 – 1.30pm: Lunch

1.30pm: panel 3: ‘Difficult material – navigating ethical challenges in collections’
Artists research can raise challenging issues about collections, particularly around colonial-era artefacts or historic human remains. This panel discussion asked how these conversations between artist and institution can be best made productive for audiences, museums and artists?
Chair: Dr Jane Wildgoose – Artist and researcher. Panelists, Victoria Adukwei Bulley – Artist, writer and film maker, Abeera Kamran – Artist and designer,   Dr Hannah Young – Public engagement fellow, Victoria and Albert Museum.

2.30pm: Brief introduction to current exhibits followed by networking and refreshments

Collections Manager Alison Duke gave a brief introduction to Foundlings current exhibitions.

Hogarth & the Art of Noise revealed Hogarth’s innovative use of sound, introducing visitors to a previously unexplored but important aspect of his art, and further cementing his reputation as the 18th century’s most original artist.

Famed for his social commentary, no painter before or since Hogarth has made such overt use of sound as a way of communicating a narrative. Taking as its focus the artist’s masterpiece, The March of the Guards to Finchley, the exhibition unpacks the painting’s rich social, cultural and political commentary, from the Jacobite uprising and the situation for chimney boys, to the origins of God Save the King.

Using sound, wall-based interpretation, engravings, and a specially-commissioned immersive soundscape by acclaimed musician and producer Martyn Ware, the exhibition will reveal how Hogarth orchestrated the natural and man-made sounds of London, to depict the city in all its guises. Discover how the Foundling Hospital’s great artist-governor captured the vibrancy and complexity of contemporary 18th-century life and learn more about the context in which the Hospital was established.

Complementing the main exhibition, Hogarth & The Art of Noise, will be a display, on the first floor of the Museum, of new work by contemporary British artist, Nicola Bealing. Using both print and painting, Bealing’s work takes as its starting point the subjects and narratives found within 18th-century broadside ballads – descriptive or narrative songs on popular themes, often sung or sold in the form of cheap sheet music in the streets. Vibrant, bawdy, surreal and humorous in its nature, her work bears many similarities to that of Hogarth’s, an artist she cites as having inspired her.

4pm: Event end

Contributor Biographies

Victoria Adukwei Bulley – Artist
Victoria Adukwei Bulley is an artist, poet, writer and filmmaker. A former Barbican Young Poet, her work has appeared variously in publications including The Poetry Review, in addition to featuring on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. She won a Society of Authors Eric Gregory Award in 2018, and has held residencies internationally in the US, Brazil, and the V&A Museum in London. Victoria is the director of MOTHER TONGUES, an intergenerational poetry, film and translation project supported by Arts Council England and Autograph. She is a Complete Works Poetry and Instituto Sacatar fellow, and sits on the advisory board of the Poetry Translation Centre. Her debut pamphlet is Girl B.

Alison Duke, Collections Manager – Foundling Museum
Alison Duke is Collections Manager at the Foundling Museum. She has been with the Museum since its opening in 2004. Prior to that she spent four years in the Collections Division of Tate. During her time at the Foundling Museum she has worked on the Museum’s temporary exhibition programme and the four-year HLF-funded oral history project Foundling Voices and has overall responsibility for the care of the Museum’s Collections. She has been responsible for artist residencies at the Museum including the three-year Artquest Foundling Residency.

Tim Corum – Director of Curatorial and Public Engagement, Horniman Museum.
Tim Corum, joined the Horniman in January 2015. where he leads the work of the curatorial, learning and programming departments. Tim has worked in museums for over 25 years, including the V&A Museum, Stoke-on-Trent’s City Museum, Leeds City Museums and Art Galleries (as Head of Collections) and most recently Bristol Museums and Archives, where he was Deputy Director.

Bethany Haynes – Senior Producer, Battersea Arts Centre
Bethany Haynes has worked with artists at Battersea Arts Centre for the past 9 years. In her role as Senior Producer, she is currently responsible for the BAC Moving Museum, and the custodianship of the Wandsworth Museum collection. Battersea Arts Centre is based in a 125 year old former Town Hall building. It is a museum, a theatre, and a hub for social change and social enterprise. The organisation sees these identities as interconnected and overlapping, and applies its Scratch methodology of iterative, beneficiary-centred idea development across all areas of their work. BAC Moving Museum’s approach to enabling access to and utilising their collections, is by facilitating artists and community participants to engage with and research within the collection, as a means of exploring how knowledge of the past can inform and inspire ways we can reimagine our future. They are interested in how their broad, and eclectic social history collections can enable artists and communities to lead change. In addition to her work on the BAC Moving Museum, Bethany has lead Battersea Arts Centre’s Homegrown programmes for young people, and supported the development of a wide range of theatre productions and festivals. These include the One on One Festival (2010), The Good Neighbour (2012), Neverland (2016) and I’m a Phoenix, Bitch (2018).

Caro Howell – Director, Foundling Museum
Caro Howell is Director of the Foundling Museum. Previously she was Head of Education & Public Events at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (2005-11), where she oversaw the construction and programming of major new education spaces and project galleries as part of the Gallery’s expansion, including a series of artists’ commissions and residencies. She has worked as an independent museum education consultant in the UK and abroad, developing projects that explore issues of advocacy, interpretation and access to the arts. She was ten years at Tate, joining Tate Modern’s set-up team in 1997 where she formulated its access and audience development strategy, and developed Raw Canvas, London’s first peer-led museum programme for 15-23 year olds. She has developed a number of award-winning resources for disabled people including two for Tate: i-Map (2002), the UK’s first online art resource for blind and partially sighted people, which received a BAFTA, and i-Map: The Everyday Transformed (2006) which received a Jodi Award. Caro Co-Chairs the Women Leaders in Museums Network, sits on the Exhibition Advisory Groups of the Charterhouse and Two Temple Place, was a member of Art on the Underground’s Advisory Group (2006-2011) and was a trustee of the experimental theatre company Shunt (1998-2010). She has an MA, History of Art from Birkbeck College, University of London (1994) and a BA, Theatre Studies from Warwick University (1988).

Helena Hunter – Artist
Helena Hunter works with methods of fictioning and performativity as critical, creative and speculative tools in her art practice. Combining visual-poetic text, performance and assemblage her practice seeks to reimagine cultural narratives in relation to objects and forms of materiality. Her ongoing project The Institute of Speculative Subjectivities investigates the perceived ‘silence’ or gap in forms of language and representation that occur within human-non-human relations. This work blends languages of science with art and fiction to reimagine material agency and forms of ecological knowing. This has resulted in a series of artworks with minerals, algae and organisms in a range of settings: from environmental site-based work to natural historical museum collections. Helena has a collaborative practice Matterlurgy, with artist Mark Peter Wright and is a member of the international collective Dorio-O. Helena was awarded the 2018/19 research residency at the Horniman Museum and Gardens

Abeera Kamran – Artist 
Abeera Kamran is a visual designer and a web-developer based in Birmingham (UK) and Karachi (Pakistan). Her creative practice is research-based and lies at the intersections of design, archiving practices and the internet. She designs and co-edits ‘Exhausted Geographies’, a collaborative publishing project which critically engages with the politics of representation and map-making. She co-curated an exhibition in November 2017- June 2018 at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery called ‘The Past is Now: Birmingham and The British Empire’ which interrogates Birmingham’s relationship with the British Empire. She is also a contributor to ‘A Selective Guide to the V&A’s South Asia Collection’, published by Delfina Foundation.

Nick Kaplony – Senior Programme Coordinator, Artquest
Joining the Artquest team in 2008 Nick Kaplony was responsible for artist’s residency programmes there, which refocused from international studio residencies to London based research residencies in partnership with institutions such as the British Library, the Foundling Museum and the Horniman Museum and Gardens. Prior roles include exhibitions officer at Pump House Gallery and Assistant Curator at Univeristy of the Arts London’s Art Gallery. He has his own practice as an artist and independent curator, his particular interests center around familial relationships, mourning and inheritance.

Tom Railton -Artist
Tom Railton is an artist working with hybrid forms in sculpture that explore the agency and appropriation of substance. His works offer conflicting narratives and intersecting timelines, establishing apophenic links between material, manufacture and site through a transdisciplinary approach to technologies of making and unmaking. In 2015 Tom completed the Artquest Research Residency at the Foundling Museum. Formerly, his work won the Workweek Prize (2013), and the GAM Prize (2012), and featured in the inaugural Saint Vincent European Art Prize (2012) after completing his MA study at Chelsea College of Arts in the same year. Recent projects include exhibitions with Gossamer Fog (2017), PLAZAPLAZA (2016), and Supernormal Festival (2016), and Committee Membership for DIY Space for London from 2015-2016. He holds a specialist technical position at the Royal College of Art and appointments as a Visiting Lecturer to programmes in London, Leeds, Liverpool and Vilnius.  Tom was born in Coventry, UK, and now lives and works in London.

Clare Twomey – Artist
Clare Twomey is a British artist and a research fellow at the University of Westminster who works with clay in large-scale installations, Sculpture and site-specific works. Over the past 10 years she has exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate, Crafts Council, Museum of Modern Art Kyoto Japan, the Eden Project and the Royal Academy of Arts. Within these works Twomey has maintained her concerns with materials, craft practice and historic and social context. Clare Twomey is actively involved in critical research in the area of the applied arts, including writing, curating and making. She has developed work, which expands the fields’ knowledge of larger scale installation works.

Dr Jane Wildgoose – Artist
Dr Jane Wildgoose is an artist and researcher who investigates the history of collecting while reflecting on the emotional charge that may linger in objects in collections; she is also Keeper of her own collection, The Wildgoose Memorial Library, which is dedicated to memory and remembrance. She was awarded her PhD from Kingston University London where her practice-based research responded to the Government’s guidance on the care of human remains in museums, and focused on the role of artists who address the legacies of colonial-era collecting in museums. She is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King’s College London and a contributor to the Opening the Cabinet of Curiosities project at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Dr Hannah Young – Historian
Dr Hannah Young is an Economic History Society Tawney Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research and the University of Hull. Awarded her PhD from UCL in 2017, her research explores gender, family and absentee slave-ownership in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain. She also has a keen interest in heritage and public history and has worked at the Victoria and Albert Research Institute (VARI), where she tried to confront the ‘difficult’ histories and practices built into the museum.