The Courtauldian, 'Alumnae'

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The Courtauld Institute of Art




Over the past few months, as well as working on our normal publication, we have been developing this, a compilation of eighteen profiles on alumnae from The Courtauld. These outstanding eighteen are symbols of the many more impressive female figures who have spent time at our university, be that in the 1930s, just as the university began its life, or at any point in its exciting history. This has been an inspiring project to embark on for everyone involved, and I am grateful to all participants. This publication would not have been possible without the help of a great number of people: students, staff and alumnae inclusive. Of course, thanks must be said to our team of student writers, who have enthusiastically engaged with the history of The Courtauld and heritage of successful female alumnae. Likewise, to the editorial team, Rose and Alfred, and to Julia, our graphic designer, I am hugely grateful. Thanks must be made to Professor Deborah Swallow, who kickstarted this publication, and watered the seeds of idea through to fruition. Also, to Libby Ayres, I am very grateful. Imogen Crockford has been an amazing help throughout this process, on every front, and for that we are all so thankful. I am, naturally, immensely grateful to the wonderful alumnae who have become a part of this project, for their involvement and for their swift and obliging responses throughout. Truly, without them, this would not exist. I hope you enjoy exploring their worlds over the following pages. â–

EDITOR Tessa Carr DEPUTY EDITORS Alfred Pasternack Rose London GRAPHIC DESIGNER Julia Craze WRITERS Louise Calpin Morgan Haigh Laura Laing Payton McHugh Aniko Petri Anna Thompson Anja Quant-Epps



Throughout 2018, women across the UK have celebrated the centenary of women’s suffrage in the UK. On 14 December 1918, 8.5 million women were eligible to vote for the first time. As we reach that date one hundred years later it is difficult to imagine the excitement that those who fought for the franchise must have felt as they placed their votes in the ballot box. This year, for many reasons, we have all become more aware both of the importance and the challenges of democracy as a political process and the value and some of the continuing challenges for women as they grow from children to mature to senior adults. Discussing this with Tessa Carr, editor of The Courtauldian, in early October at the ‘Bubbly Breakfast’for alumni at The Courtauld in Frieze week, an idea emerged. Brett Rogers had just spoken, for the first time, about her fascinating forewords

career and the talk had a rich conversation across the generations of former students present in the audience. The presentation once again reminded me of the fact that we always tended to stress the agency of our founding fathers, Samuel Courtauld, Robert Witt and Arthur, Lord Lee in the official history of The Courtauld’s foundation. They were indeed absolutely critical to the creation of The Courtauld, along with a number of other men whose supporting role was less visible but still important. But I have always contended that the women behind each of those men - Elizabeth Courtauld, Mary Witt and Ruth Lee - were deeply influential in the development of their husband’s thinking. And The Courtauld could not have operated without the dedication of female faculty, librarians and slide librarians throughout its early history. Women were among the first students recruited; today The Courtauld’s student population is predominantly female, and we have many female staff in roles across the institution. As I discussed the need to give recognition to all these women with Tessa, she suggested that The Courtauldian could celebrate Courtauld women’s contributions, not just to The Courtauld but to the wider world by publishing a series of 18 profiles by 14 December 2018. The challenge was on. Over the past term, in addition to their work on the publication of the regular Courtauldian, a team of student authors, working with our alumni relations team, has selected 18 wonderful Courtauld alumnae to celebrate. It was difficult for them to choose the 18 – there could have been many more – but those that they have chosen reflect the dynamism, range of interests, and impact our female students of all generations have had. I am sure that these profiles will encourage and excite everyone who reads them and will amply reward the editor’s and contributors’ commitment to this project. ■

foreword from the alumni relations manager BY IMOGEN CROCKFORD

One of the most exciting aspects of my role as Alumni Relations Manager is having the opportunity to witness, on a daily basis, the tremendous impact that our small institution has had on the art world and beyond. The Courtauld is small but mighty - and our alumni are testament to that. To celebrate the centenary of the first women gaining the right to vote in the UK in 1918, the editors of our student publication, The Courtauldian, came up with the brilliant plan to showcase some of our own talented and ground-breaking alumnae across the generations. Alumnae from The Courtauld have gone on to have great influence not only in the art world but also in politics, science, technology, the media and in so many other areas. Collaborating on this project with the students and Professor Deborah Swallow has been immensely inspiring. The 18 alumnae that we chose to include in this publication symbolise just the tip of a much larger iceberg, as our list of impressive alumnae pioneers is seemingly endless. We are honoured to think that The Courtauld may have played a part in shaping the development and interests of these dynamic and motivated women. 2018 marks 100 years since the ‘Representation of the People Act’ was passed in 1918, which enabled 40% of women to vote in the UK for the first time. This year also marks 150 years

since women were first admitted into higher education in Britain. Today, there is still progress to be made. With major gender gaps still existing in the art world, particularly in museum and gallery directorship, 2018 has been a pivotal year to both look back in history to women’s suffrage, and look forward to the future at how we can better address gender inequalities in the workplace and in political spheres. We wanted this publication to be inspirational for both our current students and our alumni community, providing just a tiny taster of some of our many alumnae success stories over the years. Enjoy reading! ■ 3

anne olivier bell (1916 - 2018)


An indomitable figure of twentieth-century culture, Anne Olivier Bell (née Popham) is an alumna whose substantial achievements, though very much appreciated, are too often hidden in the shadow of others. The only alumna to have lived through both the Representation of the People Act 1918 and its centenary, daughter of A.E. Popham, Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, Bell grew up in Bloomsbury, and was immersed in the Bloomsbury Group (her first school was Marjorie Strachey’s on Gordon Square). Once adult, Bell trained in Germany to become an opera singer (one likes to think she crossed paths with Wilfrid) but, unsuccessful in launching a career in London, returned to the family trade and enrolled at the still young Courtauld Institute of Art. anne olivier bell

Bell is perhaps most widely known as one of the ‘Monuments Men’ – a group whose very name fails to acknowledge her contribution. At the outbreak of war, Bell had been working for a German art historian who was promptly interned, leaving her to join the Ministry of Information and serve as an air-raid warden during the Blitz. In the last year of the War, Bell was sent to Europe to protect art from further destruction and to recover works stolen by the Nazi regime and return them to their owners. The only woman on the team, she was responsible for the coordination of information and efforts, but garnered unpopularity from colleagues for her willingness to spend time with Germans, even when they could help uncover hidden artefacts. Largely overlooked by British authorities, the ‘Monuments Men’ were celebrated in a 2014 George Clooney film – Bell attended the UK premier at the age of 98, despite the film’s focus solely on men at the expense of others involved. The majority of her life, however, was spend in fierce defence of the Bloomsbury Group. Following an invitation to Sussex to sit for a portrait by Vanessa Bell in 1950, Anne Olivier Bell was introduced to her son, Quentin Bell, whom she married two years later. After moving to Sussex for Quentin Bell to take up a professorship there, the pair worked on researching a monumental biography of his aunt, Virginia Woolf, which he published in 1972. Far more merit-worthy, however, are the five volumes of Woolf ’s diaries that Bell

Anne Olivier Bell pg dip 1937

published from 1977, edited with the benefit of her vast and detailed knowledge of the Bloomsbury Group’s complex happenings. Her work, recorded in the humble publication Editing Virginia Woolf ’s Diaries, remains a pillar of Bloomsbury scholarship and earned her honorary degrees from the universities of Sussex and York. By the ’70s Bell became the majestic matriarch of the Bloomsbury progeny and took on responsibility for the promotion of the group’s legacy. After the death of Duncan Grant in 1978, Bell established a trust for the preservation of Charleston Farmhouse, which was thus able to open to the public in 1986, and ensured the survival of the Bloomsbury Group’s ethos through the annual Charleston Festival. She offered discerning advice to those writing on the subject and remained as President of the Charleston Trust from its foundation in 1980 until her death in July this year. ■


pamela Tudor-CRaig BA 1949, phd 1952

pamela tudor-craig

Craig founded the Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust, which has since raised more than two million pounds, and, while teaching at the United States International University in London and its campus in East Sussex, she became chairman of the Sussex Historic Churches Trust. Her strong Christian faith and upbringing by nuns encouraged an interest in medieval art, which led her to do a BA at The Courtauld which she finished in 1949 and then a PhD in 1952. Shortly after completing a doctorate at the age of 23, she was on the committee organising an exhibition at the Society of Antiquaries, before being elected a Fellow of the Society in 1958 – she later served on its Council from 1989 to 1992 and in 2014 was recognised with the Society Medal.

pamela Tudor-CRaig (1928 - 2017) BY ANNA THOMPSON

When thinking about the centenary of women winning the right to vote, ‘rebellion’ and ‘determination’ are words that spring to mind. These are themes embodied by Pamela TudorCraig when, as a student at The Courtauld, she defied then Director, Professor Sir Anthony Blunt’s wishes and chose to study medieval art history against his will – she did not agree with his opinion that there was ‘no future’ in it, and has since thoroughly disproven this theory. Not only did Tudor-Craig go on to lead the study of medieval architecture, she was actively involved in its preservation: in 1982, Tudor-

In 1973 Tudor-Craig curated the groundbreaking exhibition on Richard III at the National Gallery – her research was instrumental in uncovering the long-lasting propaganda efforts of the Tudors, challenging the perception of Richard as villainous and unworthy of reigning promoted by Thomas More, William Shakespeare, and Winston Churchill. Tudor-Craig’s first forays into television built on her work on Richard III, participating in the BBC’s 1976 series Second Verdict followed by ITV’s Trial of Richard III in 1982. Though primarily a medieval art historian, it was with work on early Renaissance paintings that she came to the forefront of public attention – her 1986 BBC series The Secret Life of Paintings and the book of the same name explored the hidden meaning of five pictures ranging from 1433 to 1533: Botticelli’s Primavera, Van Eyck’s Madonna and Child, St George and the Dragon by Paulo Uccello, Bosch’s Christ Crowned with Thorns, and Holbein’s Ambassadors. ■


anita brookner (1928 - 2016)


If the average person were to do only one of the things that Anita Brookner achieved, they would be considered a great success. In her early years Brookner could be found in Dulwich Picture Gallery, where she first fell in love with art while contemplating Poussin’s Triumph of David. During her time studying French and History at King’s College London, she would regularly skip a module (she later said she forgot the name of it) to attend public lectures at the National Gallery. After beginning studies at The Courtauld, her talent for art history was recognised by Professor Sir Anthony Blunt, who thought her MA thesis on Greuze worth upgrading to a PhD. She went on to write exhibition reviews for the Burlington Magazine and worked as a French and Italian translator. Her time spent researching Greuze in Paris, an opportunity afforded by a French government scholarship to study at the École du Louvre in 1950, was reportedly the best time of her life. Brookner continued her academic career when she became lecturer at Reading University in 1959, before returning to The Courtauld in 1967 and serving as the first female Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge for anita brookner

Anita brookner BA 1949, phd 1952

1967/68. Her writing career started with art history – early books include now canonical monographs on Greuze and David. It was not until 1981, however, that she made her first foray into novels with A Start in Life at the age of 53, subsequently averaging a book each year over the next two decades and often staying in her office at The Courtauld during the summer break to work on her novels, acclaimed for their exploration of loneliness in London. Brookner’s career stands out among Courtauld alumnae as one of the few to excel in fields both creative and academic. Despite her success, however, she often spoke of her loneliness – she rarely attended literary festivals or parties – and discussed how writing fiction gave her motivation to live, describing it as not enjoyable but addictive. Brookner won the Man Booker Prize in 1984 for her novel Hotel du Lac, later adapted into a BBC mini-series, and was awarded a CBE in 1990. She eventually became a Reader at The Courtauld, accompanied by honorary positions at Cambridge and at her alma mater, King’s College. Laudable as the long and varied list of her achievements undoubtedly is, however, Brookner dismissed praise as “irrelevant”. ■


After her undergraduate studies, Fletcher started researching a PhD but chose not to continue, taking up teaching instead. It was upon completion of her BA that Fletcher studied with Ernst Gombrich, at that time working at the Warburg Institute. Fletcher had reached out to Gombrich after he had given a lecture at The Courtauld and was effectively supervised by him for a period. She was researching the workshop practice of north-Italian painters. By 1966, Fletcher was back to work, teaching in various institutions, including Camberwell College of Arts and Reading University.


Jennifer Fletcher is one of the many polymaths who has occupied, and continues to occupy, the halls of The Courtauld. She graduated with a BA from The Courtauld in 1960, having spent her free time playing hockey on the mixed team of the London School of Economics. Her journey to The Courtauld had, however, started on rocky ground. Having attended a grammar school in Birmingham, Fletcher hadn’t been taught Latin. For this, The Courtauld refused entry. She therefore spent a year working full-time as a librarian, alongside learning Latin. Once passing the language exam she gained entrance to the university, beginning her degree in 1957. jennifer fletcher

Fletcher was the Slade Professor at Oxford in 1990/91: only the second woman to occupy the role. Never straying too far from The Courtauld, however, she taught here until her retirement in 2002. She is now an Honorary Fellow. Much praise for her teaching and scholarship can be found through the words of her distinguished students (among them both Neil MacGregor and Gabriele Finaldi). One of her pupils, the artist Jeremy Deller, recalled in an interview that she would often make her tutees stand in front of paintings for hours, “until we hallucinated and envisioned all sorts of things.” Yet her unusual style found a broad audience – her teaching ranged from her MA courses on the art of the court of Philip IV of Spain, supervising PhD students on the Spanish Baroque, to lecturing at the National Gallery on Venetian portraits. Fletcher had an ability to ignite in others an interest for the subjects she herself was fascinated by. In 2009, to celebrate Fletcher’s 70th birthday, a conference ‘In Honour of Jennifer Fletcher’ was organised by former students and colleagues at The Courtauld. Her recent 80th birthday was celebrated by a special edition of the Colnaghi Studies Journal. ■


Anne d’HARNONCOURTmA 1967 anne d’harnoncourt

ANNE D’HARNONCOURT (1943 - 2008)


Engulfed by art at a young age, there is no doubt not only that Anne d’Harnoncourt was curious about its many historical paths and theoretical features, but that creativity ran in her veins. A graduate of Radcliffe College, Massachusetts, with a BA in History and English Literature, d’Harnoncourt moved to London where she undertook an MA in nineteenth-century painting at The Courtauld, where she found the field of expertise in which she would excel – Marcel Duchamp’s life and work. During just one year studying here, she worked at the Tate Gallery, preparing full catalogue entries for Pre-Raphaelite paintings and drawings. Immediately upon returning to the States she joined the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a curatorial assistant, in which capacity she was given first-hand experience with Duchamp’s work, organising his last major installations (Étant donnés) before his death

in 1968. After two years at the Art Institute of Chicago, d’Harnoncourt returned to the Philadelphia Museum in 1972 as Curator of Twentieth-Century Art, co-organising many exhibitions including the major retrospective of Duchamp’s work in 1973. Under her curatorship, the museum’s contemporary collection thrived, with her wit and charm navigating the acquisition of some incredibly important works by artists from Jasper Johns to Sol LeWitt and Agnes Martin, among many others. Given her success with twentieth-century art, it is no surprise she was chosen to succeed Jean Sutherland Boggs as Director of the museum in 1982 – at the age of only 38 – and at the same time took on the role of Chief Executive Officer. Under her leadership, the museum not only presented numerous exhibitions and retrospectives but also, at her instigation, the museum’s ninety galleries were fully redeveloped, making d’Harnoncourt the first woman in this position to oversee a project costing over five hundred million dollars. She remained at the helm of the Philadelphia Museum of Art until 2008, when the international art world was shaken by her sudden death. Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Phillipe De Montebello, spoke about the unexpected loss of his friend and colleague describing her as “a guiding light of the museum community”. It is true, the artistic community has suffered a great loss of this influential, innovative woman, but it is vital to note that the work she did had a great and lasting effect on us, both as viewers and as students – she is remembered as a particularly transformative figure, manifesting strength in her very name, and for that, we owe her our utmost thanks and respect. ■ 13


Few have been so devoted to The Courtauld, so consistently or for so long, as Jane Ferguson. Alongside art history and a prolific philanthropic career, Ferguson has been instrumental in developing a productive community around The Courtauld and its alumnae. Having heard of The Courtauld while studying for her first degree at McGill University in Montreal and admired its reputation for art history, Ferguson first joined the Institute working for the Slide Library at Portman Square, where she mounted slides and operated the manual Leitz projectors in lectures and seminars. The now outmoded role of projectionist not only provided visual evidence for students, but also exposed Ferguson to an enormously diverse range of art. Soon returning to her own formal education, Ferguson stayed at The Courtauld to study the Early Modern Abstract (1912-39) as an MA student, before marrying and spending a decade abroad. Once her youngest child had started at school, however, she returned to offer her services again. In 1989, she and Professor Michael Kitson established the Courtauld Association in the hope of keeping in contact with former students, who had been rallied for the move to Somerset House, and making the most of them in the future. The first effort of the Association was to provide news of alumni and alumnae, which jane ferguson


eventually developed from a four-page bulletin to the 32-page Courtauld News covering the Institute as a whole. Only one of the two annual issues was provided for by a donation, and it was to fund the second that Ferguson initially founded the Courtauld Book Sale. When the Institute recognized the worth of the newsletter and started to pay for it, proceeds from the Book Sale were diverted instead to a travel bursary for MA students – having studied at The Courtauld with no external funding, she understood how difficult it could be for postgraduates and has focused her generosity on this group. The Book Sale, though not without some degree of mayhem, has proven a great success. Established in the midst of fear that computers would replace the printed word, enthusiasm for books has been undimmed by the digital world – the only challenge has been sourcing good books to be offered to students and academics at a reasonable price. Over a career at The Courtauld, Ferguson has worked with almost every part of the Institute, from academics to librarians and conservators and more. In 2002 her husband, Nicholas Ferguson, was appointed Chairman of the Board of the newly independent Courtauld Institute of Art. After ten years, both Nicholas and Jane retired from their formal roles at The Courtauld, though their quiet altruism here and elsewhere has continued. In a wide variety of roles, from the Slide Library to the Courtauld Association, she has made an immeasurable contribution to the Institute and very much belongs in the front rank of its loyal and long-serving members. â–


betty churcher mA 1977 betty churcher

betty churcher (1931 - 2015)


Artist, art critic, television presenter, author, gallery director, and, of course, Courtauldian. Betty Churcher’s commitment to the arts and undeniable talent in bringing them to the masses still lingers in institutions she occupied over her life.

herself yet again by winning the Princess of Wales award for Best Female Student. After meeting her husband and fellow artist Roy Churcher at the Royal College of Art, the couple decided to move back to Brisbane and begin their lives together, whilst also setting up a studio and holding public art classes. To Churcher, art and family really had no comparison – proving yet another strength in both character and mind. After all of her children had started at school, Churcher began writing and working again, creating the textbook Understanding Art, still used in art history classes today. This gave her the opportunity to return to education and fulfil her creative potential – and this time she chose to return to London and to complete an MA in History of Art at The Courtauld.

Born in Queensland, Australia, during the Depression, Churcher’s devotion to the arts was often tested by her father’s insistence that she would not be in need of an education past Year 10. Prevailing, though, was her vigour and determination and after obtaining a place to study under Patricia Prentice, and later Caroline Baker, it is evident that it was her life’s natural course to bring new ideas to both art and art history and to challenge the old.

Having previously worked as a teacher and author, Churcher now had the tools to enforce massive changes to the art world. After being appointed Director of the National Gallery of Australia in 1990, she earned the nickname ‘Blockbuster Betty’ for presiding over twelve international shows in just seven years. It is clear that her spark was only ignited further by challenge, using her exhibitions to incite debate around the role of the public in the gallery, and provoking new conversation – most notably about the stigma around HIV and AIDS.

Her career, arguably, had begun at the age of thirteen when she won the Sunday Mail’s children’s art contest. From here, Churcher began exhibiting with the Younger Artist’s Group of the Royal Queensland Art Society, of which she was later appointed chair. A constant source of light and trust, it is no surprise that Churcher won a travelling scholarship to study at undergraduate level at the Royal College of Art, out-achieving

‘Blockbuster Betty’ is best remembered as a warm and charismatic personality, with whom staff felt comfortable and by whom empowered, to whom other directors looked for inspiration, and who remains a figure whose presence the public can feel when they step into one of her institutions. At The Courtauld, we are incredibly grateful to have known her courageous spirit, trailblazing power, and unstoppable drive. ■ 17

brett rogers BY TESSA CARR

When Brett Rogers, the current Director of the Photographers’ Gallery, arrived at The Courtauld in 1980, photography was not a topic studied! Throughout her career, Rogers has played a key role in promoting this previously ignored medium, both in the UK and abroad. Born in Australia, Rogers completed a degree in Fine Arts before moving to London to start an MA course in European post-War art. She explored the history of surrealist exhibitions as a way to sidestep The Courtauld’s restrictive syllabus – though she couldn’t study photography in its own right, this choice of subject allowed her to research photographic archives extensively to study photographs of the exhibitions. Graduating from The Courtauld, Rogers joined the British Council, soon moving into the role of Visual Arts Deputy Director and Head of Exhibitions. There she spent much of her time travelling and working on exhibitions of British art and photography abroad. In this, she often found herself in hot water, with British ambassadors not appreciating the image of Britain presented to the world by the photography of Martin Parr, among others. Rogers resisted these arguments and disputed the notion that photography should “promote a tourist’s image of Britain”, rather seeking to promote the medium itself. In discussion of photography in comparison to the other arts, Rogers picks up on the ease brett rogers

of transporting works of photography. She references, in contrast, the troubles she had while working in Australia and attempting to bring Michael Craig Martin’s An Oak Tree into the country. This artwork consists of a glass of water suspended on a shelf above a text arguing that it is, in fact, an oak tree. When Rogers tried to import the work, Australian border authorities initially classed it as ‘vegetation’ and refused to allow it into the country. Rogers remembers how she and her colleagues had to explain that the work was one of conceptual art, rather than a living oak tree and that it didn’t need to be quarantined. Photography, she concludes, is much easier to transport and thus more suitable for communicating with a broader audience. While still at the British Council, Rogers was appointed a trustee of the Photographers’ Gallery; becoming a member of the board from 1992-95 which would later choose her to be Director. She took on this new role in November 2005 and has been there since. Rogers led the gallery through a period of vast change, including a move from its previous location to its current site in Soho and the major redevelopment of these new premises, despite troubles following the economic crisis of 2008. She has brought the gallery into the era of the networked image, with a real exploration of digital artworks and a deep personal interest “in artists that are combining digital and analogue”.

BrettmA 1981 rogers

Rogers has been central in the establishment of photography as a leading art in the UK, for which she received an OBE in 2014 – a lot has changed for the medium since her time at The Courtauld, much of it thanks to her. ■


now receives an average of 5.8 million visitors a year and has played a major role in making art more accessible to diverse audiences from near and far.

frances morris BY MORGAN HAIGH

Tate Modern is definitively one of the most popular art museums in the world, and Frances Morris has been fundamentally involved in its development since its opening in 2000. Joining Tate as a curator in 1987, she was promoted to be the inaugural Head of Displays at Tate Modern, later Head of International Collections, a post she held for a decade – until her appointment as Director in 2016. She is not only the first woman to lead Tate Modern, but also the first Tate ‘insider’ to rise to this position, as previous directors have been brought in from the glittering European art scene. Morris is responsible for the nonchronological style of Tate Modern’s hanging, a radical and controversial strategy when first introduced in 2000, it has now become a popular system of display in galleries and museums world-wide. Her Bankside ‘cathedral’ to the modern and contemporary frances morris

Born in south-east London in 1959, Morris studied History of Art as an undergraduate at Cambridge before writing an MA thesis at The Courtauld on the French modernist painter Jean Hélion. She then worked for a short time at Bristol’s Arnolfini until returning to London to begin her career at Tate. Throughout she has made it her mission to raise the profile of women and artists from outside Europe and America, as can be seen in the subjects of the many major international exhibitions she has curated, including Louise Bourgeois in 2007, Yayoi Kusama in 2012, and Agnes Martin in 2015. After taking charge of Tate Modern, she oversaw the completion and opening of its biggest development yet, the Switch House extension (now named ‘Blavatnik Building’), within her first year. The project, which increased the size of the gallery by 60%, has been criticised for its provision of public and non-gallery spaces, yet Morris is determined to extend the ‘civic’ and ‘educational’ role of the museum as well as exploiting the potential of the new spaces to give exposure to artists from Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. When asked by Apollo about her mission to increase female representation at Tate, Morris responded, “It is important to me, and not just for the sake of it. We need to look at the overlooked – at careers and contributions that were different and had to be different as they were made at the margins. I count women in this. Many galleries in the Switch House are dedicated to single artists, and because of the deficit of women in the historic collection we have made a particular effort to privilege great work by women.” ■

mA 1983

frances morris 21

kaywin feldman BY TESSA CARR

Since her graduation from The Courtauld in 1991, Kaywin Feldman has held the role of Director in three separate cultural institutions, and commencing 11th March 2019, this number will become four. Recently appointed as the Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Feldman will be the first woman to tackle this internationally important role, her next in a list of impressive career developments. Before starting at The Courtauld, Feldman did her undergraduate degree in archaeology at the University of Michigan. Following this, she completed a master’s degree at the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London, before making the change to art history and completing a second master’s at The Courtauld. Here, she specialised in Dutch and Flemish art with Professor Joanna Woodall, who continues to teach at The Courtauld to this day. Perhaps reflecting her beginnings in archaeology, Feldman began her career volunteering and working at the British Museum, only a short distance from The Courtauld in Somerset House. In 1996, aged just 29, Feldman returned to the US and was appointed Director of the Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art and Science in California. After three years in this role she moved into the role of Director at kaywin feldman

kaywin feldman mA 1991

the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Tennessee. The list doesn’t end here. In 2007, Feldman became the Director and President of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, a role she has flourished in for eleven years. During her time at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), attendance to the museum doubled and the museum ‘opened its doors to community dialogue’, including the introduction of free admission and the provision of classes for immigrants to prepare for their naturalisation exams. Feldman’s belief in inclusion is echoed by the museum and as director she sought to “stand firm for their values”. This was manifest in Mia’s billboard campaign in 2017 which opposed President Trump’s proposal to ban immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The billboard stated “We’re free. Everyone is welcome. Always.” Feldman wrote in 2018 of the need for museum directors to “bravely [maintain] one’s personal and institutional true north in anxious and volatile times.” With her move to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, it is exciting to wonder what positive developments she will introduce to the museum: they will no doubt be as impressive and ground-breaking as her work has been thus far. The Courtauld is proud to have alumnae such as Kaywin Feldman, a monumental role-model in every sense, especially to young female students. ■


ba 1992

hrh princess sumaya bint el hassan


hrh princess sumaya bint el hassan BY ANIKO PETRI

HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordan was educated in Amman, Jordan and in the UK. She graduated from The Courtauld with a BA specialising in early Islamic art and architecture and their relationships with other cultures. Though an art historian by training, Princess Sumaya has developed a prominent career in the promotion of science, technology and cultural heritage in Jordan and beyond. Her career today reflects her passion for art and her belief in the potential of creative science and technology to improve lives. She is Vice-Chair of the Jordan Museum, which she helped to found and now directs and oversees, and has been President of the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan since 2006. Among many other achievements, Princess Sumaya is Deputy-Chair of the Higher Council for Science and Technology, a body which advises the Jordanian Government on public policy issues relating to science and technology. She is also President of the Jordan chapter of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). She is a leading advocate for science and research in the wider Arab World, and for cultural appreciation of the creative potential of science. She is an enthusiastic promoter of science in education and sustainable development and utilises her various platforms to promote projects for the benefit of all sections of society. Her

founding of the Princess Sumaya University for Technology (PSUT) and the Queen Rania Centre for Entrepreneurship demonstrates a commitment to maximising the potential of young talent through education. Her Royal Highness has been an active force in uniting the research carried out at PSUT with the projects of the Royal Scientific Society, culminating in the foundation of El Hassan Science City, an innovative campus community and science park, and the first of its kind in Jordan. A key figure well beyond Jordan, Princess Sumaya has worked prolifically in the development of science and technology around the world. Most recently, she was designated UNESCO Special Envoy for Science for Peace. She was Chair of World Science Forum 2017 and devised Jordan’s Year of Science celebrations in 2017, which showcased Jordan’s creative science culture and celebrated a heritage of engagement and enquiry. Elsewhere, her excellence and expertise were honoured by appointments to the New York Academy of Sciences and the UN’s High Panel on Science and Technology for Development. In her many international commitments, Her Royal Highness is an avid promoter of Jordanian initiatives, seeking to establish her country as the cultural and scientific hub of the Middle East. Her interest in art history, combined with her passion for science, inform the Princess’s core belief that engaging with the modern world, while drawing on the experiences of the past, are central to building a creative and independent future locally, nationally, and globally. ■


beth ba 1997 greenacre beth greenacre

beth greenacre BY ANJA QUANT-EPPS

Beth Greenacre is a leading force in the British contemporary art world. A curator and art consultant specialising in Modern British and International Contemporary art, she graduated from the Courtauld in 1997 with a BA in the History of Art, moving into the curatorial art world soon after. Greenacre started working closely with David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century, from 2000 after meeting the singer shortly after graduating. She curated his collection of (mostly) Modern British painting and sculpture (containing works by Frank Auerbach, Peter Lanyon, and Graham Sutherland), and together they curated several exhibitions, including Sound and Vision as part of Bowie’s Meltdown at the Royal Festival Hall in 2002. She also launched and directed Bowieart, a ground-breaking –

and possibly the first ever – online platform for supporting young artists and promoting their careers. In 2005, Greenacre established an independent gallery, ROKEBY, with the same aims. After Bowie’s death in 2016, Greenacre oversaw a series of worldwide exhibitions of works from the collection attracting almost 60,000 visitors, before the sale, BOWIE/ COLLECTOR, of part of the collection at Sotheby’s under her guiding hand. Since then, Greenacre continues her consultancy practice and is the curator for The Allbright, an association and female members club which creates opportunities for women to thrive in business, furnishing their Bloomsbury venue with art by young female artists with ties to London. She is currently working on the new Maddox Street venue, which will open next year. ■ 27


Nicole Krauss is an inspirational figure for using her experience at The Courtauld far beyond the traditional boundaries of Art History. Growing up on Long Island in a British-American family, Krauss started writing as a teenager, publishing her poetry from a young age. She enrolled at Stanford University in 1992, majoring in English and winning multiple awards and prizes for her poetry, as well as the Dean’s Award for academic achievement. In 1996, Krauss was awarded a Marshall Scholarship, allowing her to study for a MA at Oxford and then The Courtauld, where she studied seventeenthcentury Dutch art, focusing on Rembrandt. Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, explored memory, personal history, and intimacy, and was published in 2002 to considerable critical acclaim. The History of nicole krauss


Love, her second, follows the various stories of an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor and a young woman dealing with the death of her father, alongside the story of a lost manuscript also called The History of Love. Her interest in discussions surrounding Jewishness and the Holocaust developed from her upbringing and multiple tragic Holocaust losses on both sides of her family. This novel was adapted for film, which was released internationally in 2016. Her third novel, Great House, was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2011, and her fourth and most recent novel, Forest Dark was published in 2017. It consists of two narratives and has been quoted as a “mediation on loss and transformation and an investigation of the mysteries of art and literature and family,” tracing back to her heritage and calling into question representation and self-definition. Krauss’s novels have been translated into more than 35 languages and have led to Krauss being selected as one of the ‘20 under 40’ Writers to Watch by the New Yorker. She also won an award from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards in 2011 for Great House amongst a series of other important literary awards. She is a passionate dancer, having taken Gaga classes in Tel Aviv and New York in order to ‘rediscover the role of pleasure in [her] work, of playfulness and its balance with effort.’ Despite focusing on her self-identity within her written work and her dance, she has often spoken of her wish to remain anonymous in her publications. Having such a creative and driven individual as a graduate from The Courtauld is an inspiration to others wishing to keep creativity and passion central to studies. ■


nancy ireson BY PAYTON MCHUGH

Currently the Deputy Director for Collections and Exhibitions for the illustrious Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Nancy Ireson is a true Courtauldian, having spent her entire academic career at The Courtauld Institute of Art – obtaining a BA in History of Art, an MA in European Art, and a PhD on the work of Henri Rousseau. Her research is particularly based in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European art. After her time at The Courtauld, Ireson quickly developed an incredible résumé of experience in some of the world’s most prestigious art institutions; starting off as a documentary researcher for the Tate’s Rousseau exhibition, before acquiring a position as assistant curator at the National Gallery and moving on soon after to begin a research fellowship at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She then returned to The Courtauld for a few years as a visiting curator on the 2011 exhibition Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril: Beyond the Moulin Rouge.

process. “It opened my mind to new ways of communicating research,” Ireson said. Just a few years later, she would introduce virtual reality to the Tate Modern, helping to launch ‘Modigliani VR: The Ochre Atelier,’ which allowed visitors to virtually explore the modern master’s Paris studio.

In 2013, she moved overseas and joined The Art Institute of Chicago to work as an associate curator. While there, Ireson curated Temptation! The Demons of James Ensor, in partnership with the Getty Museum. For this exhibition, Ireson worked to integrate digital technology into the exhibition space for the first time – implementing interactive touchscreens that allowed viewers to see evidence of the artist’s fine technical

Ireson was appointed as Curator in International Art at the Tate in 2015. Her exhibition Picasso 1932 – Love Fame Tragedy, was a resounding success, as was her exhibition on Modigliani. This year she was appointed to and took up the post of Deputy Director for Collections and Exhibitions at the Barnes Foundation. Over just fifteen years, Ireson has left a resounding and influential mark on the art world. ■

nancy ireson

NANCY IRESON bA 1999, ma 2000, phd 2007 31


With a BA in History from Northwestern University, Naomi Beckwith arrived at The Courtauld in 1998, where her MA thesis focused on Adrian Piper and Carrie Mae Weems. From 2007 to 2011, Beckwith was an associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, an American art museum devoted to exhibiting works by both emerging and established artists of African descent. Here she curated her first key exhibition, 30 Seconds off an Inch, in 2009, presenting works by an international roster of artists, the majority artists of colour, and questioning how social statements can be expressed in art. Since returning to her home city in 2011 to join the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, Beckwith has been involved in organising numerous exhibitions to explore America’s uncomfortable heritage, including Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black and White (2012-13) and the upcoming Prisoner of Love (2019). In 2017 she participated in a three-part series to commemorate the MCA Chicago’s fiftieth anniversary, We are Here, with an exhibition You are Here (2017-18) which aimed to “overturn the traditional model of the anniversary exhibitions by focusing instead on the relationship between artist and viewer”, declaring that “the meaning of a work may shift based on a viewer’s perspective or the passage of time”. The museum explained that “together, the three independently curated ‘chapters’ invite the viewer to bring their own perspectives to the museum’s collection and to naomi beckwith

think about how to be active participants in the meaning of art and its making”. Beckwith’s You are Here specifically examined how the role of the viewer has changed over time from passive onlooker to active participant.


A highlight of Beckwith’s curatorial career so far has been the highly praised 2015 exhibition The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now. The exhibition, timed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), showcased the vibrant legacy of the 1960s African American avant-garde in Chicago and linked it to global contemporary artistic interpretations of this heritage. It displayed works of music and art from original members of the AACM, including founder Muhal Richard Abrams alongside those from visual arts collectives such as the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA). The Freedom Principle combined these historic materials with more recent responses from artists and musicians such as Anthony Braxton, Renée Green, and Nari Ward to demonstrate the continued world-wide relevance of the engagement with black cultural nationalism that concerned these Chicago-based organisations during the civil rights era. Earlier this year she co-curated the first retrospective of Howardena Pindell, an inspirational female artist of African descent who, much like Beckwith, challenges the traditions of the art world. With this, the most recent in her series of ground-breaking exhibitions on race and gender, Beckwith continues to show herself to be a remarkable, forward-thinking curator interested not only in exploring history, but in connecting it to today’s world and using it to bring people together. ■ 33

DEIrDRE MURPHY (1975 - 2018)


Deirdre Murphy started her career as a producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, after gaining a first-class History degree from Dalhousie University. She came to London in 2001 to study an MA in the History of Dress at The Courtauld: it was here that she discovered her love for textiles, and soon after leaving The Courtauld she became a curator for the Manchester Gallery of Costume at the V&A. She went on to join the Historic Royal Palaces team at Kensington Palace in 2003, where for the next decade and a half she presided over the collections as an influential and proactive specialist in royal history. Whilst at Kensington, she curated several critically acclaimed exhibitions, famously one for the tenth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 2007 and, the following year The Last Debutantes, a show commemorating the semi-centenary of the presentation of 1,400 young ladies before the Queen in 1958, marking the end of the tradition that had lasted two centuries. In 2012 Murphy was involved with the Palace for Everyone project at Kensington, an innovative new imagining of Kensington Palace and Gardens that put a focus on recreating the royal courts there from the Stuarts through to Queen Victoria and Princess Diana. Her deirdre murphy

deirdre mA 2002 murphy

hugely successful work on the project drew international attention, and in 2014 she was elected chair of the Costume Society. After a TedX talk in the Royal Albert Hall (on the cultural impact of Prince Albert himself ) and a series of lectures in the US, Murphy became the go-to expert for British television when comment on royal fashion was needed. She recently wrote a book about the early years of Queen Victoria, a subject close to her heart after a career at Kensington, which will be published in 2019. She was one of the world’s leading experts in the textiles and fashions of the British court, and imparted her great knowledge to many students as an associate lecturer at the London School of Fashion, Central Saint Martins, and Leeds University. In 2016 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and tragically died in July 2018, aged only 42. She is remembered by her colleagues as determined, fierce, and strong, with a wry sense of humour, bravery, and style. Her legacy of 15 years at Kensington Palace shaped the institution to be what it is today, and her work will not be forgotten – in gratitude, Historic Royal Palaces is creating a new annual research fellowship in her name, memorialising her commitment to the raising of young academics in her field. ■ 35

valeria bembry pg dip 2008 valrie bembry

valeria bembry BY ROSE LONDON

Valeria Missalina Bembry began her career in humanitarian communications as an Assistant Press Officer at the international development charity, ActionAid, after completing her BA in International Relations. She later became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar where she taught English, trained Malagasy teachers in TEFL methodologies and organised recreational activities for at-risk youth. A fellow volunteer’s project marketing textiles designed by local women inspired Bembry to pursue a career combining supporting creative communities and culture in humanitarian settings. She enrolled in The Courtauld’s History of Art Postgraduate Diploma programme and wrote her thesis on perceptions of the female nude in Victorian sculpture. After earning her PgDip at The Courtauld in 2008, Bembry studied the changing art markets in the Middle East, particularly the market for Arab and Iranian contemporary art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art at the London campus not too far away in Bedford Square. She earned an MA in Art Business with a thesis that examined art and artists affected by socio-political turmoil and the market nexus between collectors, auction houses, galleries and institutions. Bembry is currently a Reporting & Publications Officer with the International

Organization for Migration (UN Migration). IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people. Based at the Iraq Mission, she works in the Return and Recovery Unit, which primarily addresses key recovery concerns: restoring public services, rehabilitating damaged infrastructure, improving local economies and supporting good governance. However, she is intrigued by the different ways diplomacy, current events and discord inform and affect artists, craftspeople and the wide spectrum of creative practitioners while also staying passionate about advocacy as demonstrated by her expansive undertakings in three continents. She has campaigned for ‘Blood Diamond’ awareness in Maine, highlighting the illicit trade that has funded brutal wars and human rights abuses; organised funding campaigns for Syrian refugees, and helped developed the Women in Action conference series, which served as a platform to showcase creative responses to the issues around women’s rights and gender equality. Remaining close to her art-history background, Bembry’s most memorable experience is the time she spent with young Syrian refugees leading street art workshops in their camp – formerly a prison during the Saddam Hussein era – in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Very few Courtauld alumnae combine international politics, Art History, and humanitarian work so effectively. Valeria Bembry is an incredible, inspirational force who demonstrates the wide-ranging and positive application of art in all contexts. ■ 37


Alexandra Morris has been working successfully in New York and Mexico’s art business world since 2010. After an undergraduate degree in History of Art, she completed a Courtauld master’s in British Modernism in 2008, attributing her academic writing skills and career-oriented mindset to her time spent at the Institute. She went on to complete a Christie’s master’s degree in History of Art and Art-World Practice, and shortly after, Morris founded ‘Alex Em/ Fine Art’; an art collection consulting firm, overseeing private art collections in the US, UK, the Middle East, and Latin America. In 2017, Morris opened a gallery in New York’s Lower East Side - PROXYCO, the brainchild of Morris and her colleague Laura Saenz. The gallery focuses on emerging and mid-career artists from Latin America, especially from Mexico and Colombia; the name derived from the concept of the gallery as a ‘proxy’, representative of artists abroad, and ‘co-,’ indicating the key themes of contemporary art, connection, contemplation, and collecting. PROXYCO’s goal: “Through the work of the gallery, we also aim to advance understanding of the role of Latin American art in international art movements (past and present) and to provide a global platform for artists working today.” Morris began the gallery after noticing a need for more representation of Latin American alexandra morris

artists, specifically in the New York art scene. Morris herself is from Mexico, and the gallery gives an opportunity for discussion around artists that would not usually get to show their art in blue-chip galleries or museums. The idea of the gallery as a ‘proxy’ is especially important at this pivotal point in art history, where an overwhelming surge of non-Western art is being placed in the spotlight due to social pressure and rising interest. PROXYCO takes advantage of this and, powered by two Latin American women, is building a platform for artists that distinguishes them rather than fetishizing them - a common problem when nonWestern art is curated, collected, or sold by Western galleries. Through her work, Morris has created a unique and empowering platform for Latin American artists and is helping the progression towards a fully inclusive art scene. ■


IMAGE CREDITS FRONT COVER Illustration by Tessa Carr


ANITA BROOKNER Photograph by Jerry Bauer, 2004


ANNE D’HARNONCOURT Photograph by Matt Rourke


BETTY CHURCHER Photograph by Adam Knott, 2008, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 2013.67


BRETT ROGERS Photograph by Suki Dhanda, 2014, Courtesy of the Photographers’ Gallery


FRANCES MORRIS Photograph by Hugo Glendinning, 2016


KAYWIN FELDMAN Photograph by Dan Dennehy © Minneapolis Institute of Art


NICOLE KRAUSS Photograph by Goni Riskin


NAOMI BECKWITH Photograph by Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago


DEIRDRE MURPHY Photograph by Historic Royal Palaces


VALERIA BEMBRY Photograph by Eric Koon



profiles Anne Olivier Bell


Pamela Tudor-Craig


Anita Brookner



editor’s note Tessa Carr


foreword from the director Professor Deborah Swallow


foreword from the alumni relations manager Imogen Crockford

Kaywin Feldman


HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan


Beth Greenacre


Jennifer Fletcher

Nicole Krauss



Anne D’Harnoncourt

Nancy Ireson



Jane Ferguson

Naomi Beckwith



Betty Churcher

Deirdre Murphy



Brett Rogers

Valeria Bembry



Frances Morris

Alexandra Morris


alumnae was produced by undergraduate students at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London. If you are interested in supporting future issues, or would like more information about the publication, contact: To contact the Alumni Relations team, please email: The Courtauldian is the editorially independent student publication of the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the individual authors to whom they are attributed and do not necessarily reflect those of The Courtauldian, the Courtauld Institute of Art Students’ Union, or any of their staff or representatives. Every effort has been made to avoid inaccuracies, to reproduce content only as permitted by copyright law, and to appropriately and fully credit the copyright holder(s) of any content reproduced.

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