MA graduate awarded doctoral studentship as Sussex partners with Towner Eastbourne

A Sussex graduate has been awarded a Doctoral Studentship to lead research into gender imbalance in UK Regional Museum collections.

The PhD opportunity, a CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership, has been facilitated by the University of Sussex in collaboration with Towner Eastbourne.

Beginning in the Autumn, Haley Moyse Fenning will use Towner’s collection as a starting point for her research.

A first generation student, Haley studied at Sussex for an MA in Art History and Curating. She was awarded prestigious internships at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles during and immediately after her MA, carrying out inspiring work with under-represented communities. She feels passionately about broadening access to modern and contemporary art for audiences who are typically under-served.

Haley said: "This award provides an opportunity to examine and advance Towner Eastbourne’s collection and programming through the lens of intersectional gender. It aligns with my deep commitment to establishing a more inclusive, just and accessible contemporary art world.

"I’m thrilled to have been selected and to be joining a regional museum which is already leading on this vital work.

"I see this opportunity not only as a collaboration between myself, Towner Eastbourne and the University of Sussex, but as an evolving conversation with artist and audience communities, and one which I am honoured to facilitate."

Primarily collections based, a key objective of the project will be to conduct a critical analysis of Towner’s repositories, examining artworks acquired from the moment of the gallery’s inception in 1923 through to the present day.

The project also builds on a recent surge of scholarly and curatorial interest in 20th century British women artists, collectors and dealers.

The project has been designed to contribute to the forthcoming 2022 Towner exhibition ‘Lucy Wertheim: Patron, Collector & Gallerist’, which will provide a unique opportunity to examine Wertheim’s key role in a broad network of relationships with female artists and collectors, within the region, across the UK and internationally.

This new doctoral project builds on the firm partnership between the Department of Art History at the University and Towner Eastbourne. At the Sussex end, supervision will be undertaken jointly by Dr Meaghan Clarke and Dr Flora Dennis , while Sara Cooper, Head of Collections and Exhibitions, will be responsible for supervision of the project at Towner.

Sara Cooper commented, As Towner approaches its centenary in 2023, a deeper awareness and understanding of the role women have played in the gallery’s history will help to support its commitment to improved gender representation in future acquisitions, exhibitions and public engagement with the Collection. We are thrilled Haley will be joining us this Autumn and look forward to working with her on this important project.”

Dr Meaghan Clarke said: “We’re really pleased to appoint Haley, a former Sussex Art History and Curating MA student, onto this AHRC/ project which will facilitate innovative research in the award-winning Towner gallery. It is a wonderful opportunity to explore the collection’s history and engage the public in new, exciting ways. An impressive array of artists and collectors will map onto local, national and international histories of gender.”

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By: Stephanie Allen
Last updated: Wednesday, 5 August 2020


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