The Caribbean and the UK have been inter-connected for centuries. Four significant anniversaries (The Windrush, the NHS, the Notting Hill Carnival and Black History Month) are being marked in Britain this year, testimony to the impact the Caribbean diaspora continues to have on contemporary British society. The British Council strives to create spaces in which open dialogue between cultures can flourish, by bringing together innovative minds to explore shared ideas and connect diverse cultural identities and artistic expressions.
Working closely with Caribbean and British partners, the British Council, in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, is creating an opportunity for one Caribbean-based curator to collaborate with a team of National Portrait Gallery curators, to co-develop and showcase work selected from the National Portrait Gallery’s archive which will be placed in dialogue with contemporary Caribbean practice, through an Instagram residency that responds to the anniversaries. The suites of images will appear on the National Portrait Gallery’s and British Council’s Instagram platforms from June through August 2018.
The Instagram residency aims to question what these historical moments in Britain’s history mean in its multicultural, pluralistic society. It also looks at its meaning within the Caribbean, a region still grappling with brain drain to highly developed industrialized nations while simultaneously impacting the Global North positively through the power of its creative force evidenced in its contributions to music, literature, film, dance, performance and festival culture. By marking these different moments, the project will explore, through the arts, the subjects of migration, health and the presence of the Caribbean in Black British culture and carnival.
About the British Council
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.
We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body.
About the National Portrait Gallery
Founded in 1856, the aim of the National Portrait Gallery, London is ‘to promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture and to promote the appreciation and understanding of portraiture in all media’.
The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. The Collection is displayed in London and in a number of locations around the United Kingdom, including several houses managed by the National Trust. The Gallery aims to bring history to life through its extensive display, exhibition, research, learning, outreach, publishing and digital programmes. These allow us to stimulate debate and to address questions of biography, diversity and fame which lie at the heart of issues of identity and achievement. The National Portrait Gallery aims to be the foremost centre for the study of and research into portraiture, as well as making its work and activities of interest to as wide a range of visitors as possible.
The British Council and the National Portrait Gallery are looking to hire a Caribbean-based curator who will collaborate with a team of National Portrait Gallery curators on an Instagram residency to launch the Caribbean edition of the Americas IN Britain project. Together, they will work in partnership to collaboratively respond to four significant anniversaries, historic moments and their legacies which mark Caribbean-British people as signifiers in contemporary British society. The project team will also include the Head of Social Media at the National Portrait Gallery and Regional Arts Manager Americas, British Council. The Caribbean-based curator will propose a suite of images by Caribbean artists in response to the four anniversaries. Together with the NPG curators, they will collaborate on linking these images with those from the National Portrait Gallery archives. The Caribbean-based curator will draft a brief text to accompany the selected images. The paired sets of images from the Caribbean and the UK will be uploaded to the National Portrait Gallery's Instagram page by their media officer.
The project will span a 5-month digital programme (June-October 2018) and take full advantage of the visibility of National Portrait Gallery’s digital platform (which has 600k followers) supported by a robust social media campaign and mark the launch of the British Council’s Regional Arts Instagram account with this residency.
About the Curator
The Caribbean-based curator will work collaboratively with two curators at the National Portrait Gallery, London: Clare Freestone, Curator Photographs (Acquisitions and Collections) and Louise Stewart, Cross Collections Curator. This international cultural partnership will encourage deep engagement across the Collection and rich conversations resulting in dynamic digital content.
As Curator, Photographs (Acquisitions and Collections, part-time) her work at the Gallery involves working with the breadth of the Photographic Collection comprising 250,000 items and with the varied subjects the photographs depict from the 1840s to the present day. I assume some responsibility for new acquisitions in photography and the care and cataloguing of the Collection. Some of the more recent displays she has curated include Marilyn Monroe: A British Love Affair, Famous in the Fifties: Photographs by Daniel Farson, Private Eye: Photographs by Lewis Morley, and Public and Private: Winston Churchill in Photographs. Whilst at the National Portrait Gallery she has developed her interest in post-war photography and culture. The research she undertook for the exhibition of the work of Ida Kar, a photographer of Armenian origin, portraying artists and writers in London and Paris in the 1950s and 1960s, led to a specific interest in this period and milieu.
Louise Stewart is Curator of sixteenth-century to contemporary collections at the National Portrait Gallery, London. She is the curator of the Gallery’s flagship international touring exhibition, Tudors to Windsors: Royal Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery and will play a key role in Inspiring People, a major £35.5m capital project and programme development. Louise is the recipient of an Art Fund New Collecting award to acquire popular, global and ephemeral portraits. She studied Art History at Edinburgh and Oxford before completing a PhD at the University of Nottingham. Louise has previously worked at the National Centre for Craft and Design, Nottingham Contemporary and for Ordinary Culture.
Deadlines for submissions: Original deadline: 18 May 2018. Extended deadline: 27 May 2018
Caribbean curator announcement: June 7, 2018