Kerry Harker

Kerry Harker

I studied BA Fine Art at Leeds from 1990 to 1994, and then went straight into an MA in Feminism and the Visual Arts with Professor Griselda Pollock.  Those five years were formative, challenging and inspiring. I enjoyed being around eminent artists and lecturers such as Griselda, Chris Taylor, Roxy Walsh, Fred Orton, Terry Atkinson, Ben Read and Pamela Golden. My Fine Art education here is something that often baffled me at the time, but as a rich reservoir of ideas, conversations and approaches, there is still much that I continue to connect with today, in many different ways.

After graduation I put down roots in Leeds and practised as an artist before beginning to curate projects. This led to co-founding a number of artistled projects, among them Project Space Leeds [PSL] in 2006 with Diane Howse and Pippa Hale. PSL aimed to support emerging artists and provide something between the poles of established institutions and grass roots spaces that characterised the landscape for contemporary art in Leeds at that time.

PSL occupied a huge gallery space in Leeds from 2007 to 12 before closing and preparing to move to a new venue on the former Tetley Brewery site. Pippa and I co-founded The Tetley in 2013 and I was Artistic Director there until September 2015. It was a joy to work with so many of the School’s staff, students and alumni at The Tetley, and especially to work with Chris Taylor, John McDowall and Louise Atkinson to bring the International Contemporary Artists’ Book Fair to The Tetley, which has been its new home since 2014.

Over the years I’ve also been Curator of Exhibitions at Harewood House from 2008 to 2011 and interim Director at The Art House in Wakefield from 2015 to 2016. Very different organisations with very different remits, but both fantastic experiences that allowed me to build my skills as a curator and in senior management in the arts. More recently, I’ve been working on a project in east Leeds, where I live, curating conversation on the politics of contemporary art and urban green space as a way to connect to communities who live there, and in order to contribute to a more sustainable future for the area.

I’m enjoying being back at Leeds now as a PhD student, whilst practising as an independent curator. It’s a great time to reconnect with the School in its handsome new home and to benefit from the fantastic new facilities both there and across the campus. The building instils a strong sense of cohesion across the School and provides a superb learning