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Future programmes at Tate Liverpool to be lead by local talent as senior curator roles are filled

2 years ago

Future programmes at Tate Liverpool to be lead by local talent as senior curator roles are filled

Tate Liverpool has announced two key appointments to lead its future programmes inside and outside the gallery.

The gallery’s new Senior Curator, Exhibitions will be Birkenhead-born Sarah James, who is currently a Gerda Henkel Fellow in Frankfurt.

Shaun Curtis, who is currently Director of Metal: Liverpool, will take up the role of Senior Curator, Learning. For both Sarah and Shaun their appointments mark a return to Tate Liverpool having been involved with the gallery earlier in their careers.

Credit Andrew
Dunkley and Mark Heathcote

An art historian, art critic and curator, Sarah has recently co-curated Anti-Social Art: Experimental Practices in Late East Germany, currently at the Tweed Museum, Minnesota. She has worked on curatorial and educational projects and publications in collaboration with smaller galleries and large institutions including HKW Berlin, Reina Sofia Madrid and the Photographers’ Gallery London. Sarah has written about contemporary art for a wide range of publications and journals over the last two decades and has contributed numerous essays for exhibition catalogues and books.

Shaun Curtis is currently director of Metal: Liverpool and has been with the organisation since 2014.  Landmark projects supported by Metal under Shaun’s directorship have included the Turner Prize winning Granby Workshop with artist collective Assemble, and the much-celebrated Different Trains concert at Edge Hill railway station, with Steve Reich, London Contemporary Orchestra and filmmaker Bill Morrison.

Credit Andrew
Dunkley and Mark Heathcote

Speaking about the appointments, Helen Legg, Director, Tate Liverpool, said:

“Sarah and Shaun have both achieved great things in their careers since their last touch point with Tate Liverpool. It is wonderful to be welcoming them back with all the wisdom, enthusiasm and fresh ideas they will be bringing with them. I’m pleased that we have found two people with such deep connectedness to the city for these leadership roles in the gallery and am confident that they will be able to take our programme, both inside and outside the gallery, forward in interesting and exciting ways.”

Sarah James said:

“I am thrilled to be joining Tate Liverpool. The gallery played a fundamental role in my early decision to become and art historian and curator. It has a history of radical and original exhibition practice, and I look forward to working with its incredible team at such an exciting phase in the gallery’s development.”

Shaun Curtis said:

“I’m really looking forward to returning to Tate Liverpool at this exciting point in its history. There is a tangible sense of possibility around this role, and the galleries’ wider connection to the city and beyond.”

Picture – KerrysWorld /

Sarah James was Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art at University College London from 2010 to 2018. Before joining UCL she was Lecturer in Art History at the University of Oxford (2009-10) and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin (2007-9).  Her award-winning research has been recognised by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the British Academy and the Paul Mellon Centre. Sarah has published two books: Common Ground: German Photographic Cultures Beyond the Iron Curtain, (Yale University Press, 2013) and Paper Revolutions: An Invisible Avant-Garde (The MIT Press, 2022).

Sarah has a longstanding engagement with Tate Liverpool, having been an inaugural member of Young Tate (now Tate Collective Producers) who curated the Testing the Water display in 1995, the first-time young people had curated a space in the gallery.

She gained an BA in History of Art from the University of Cambridge in 2001, and an MA (2002) and PhD (2007) in Contemporary Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Shaun Curtis has over 14 years’ experience working for cultural organisations as diverse as Liverpool Biennial, DaDa: Disability and Deaf Arts, and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Shaun returns to Tate Liverpool having previously held the role of Youth and Community Curator back in 2010. This was followed by a successful three-year period as Curator Young People’s programmes across Tate Modern and Tate Britain where he led on Circuit (an initiative to create better access to the arts for 15–25-year-olds) and curated many high-profile events including Warp x Tate (a collaboration between Warp Records and artist Jeremy Deller).

Over the past few years his interests have become increasingly focused on the environmental crisis and exploring the role of art and culture in addressing this, leading to support for artists such as Bill Posters, Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, Hwa Young Jung, and Mike Faulkner. Shaun is the founder and chair of the environmental sustainability network Shift Liverpool.

Sarah and Shaun will both begin their new roles at Tate Liverpool later this Spring.

Visit the Tate Liverpool website here.


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