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Leadership, Announcement

New Co-Chairs of Visual Arts South West announced: Helen Cammock and Woodrow Kernohan

Artist Helen Cam­mock and Woodrow Ker­nohan, Direc­tor of John Hansard Gallery, have been appoint­ed as Co-Chairs of the VASW network.


Visual Arts South West is delighted to announce that after an open and competitive recruitment process, artist Helen Cammock and Woodrow Kernohan, Director of John Hansard Gallery, have been appointed as Co-Chairs of the VASW network, commencing in post from December 2020.

Having both grown up in the South West, Helen and Woodrow are passionate about and dedicated to supporting artists, while opening up and increasing participation across the visual arts in the region. The pair have previously worked together as Co-Directors of Brighton Photo Fringe from 2008–11, where they combined their skills and experience to develop a new model for artist-centred and community-focussed practice.

Helen is an acclaimed artist who works across film, photography, print, text and performance. She was joint recipient of the Turner Prize in 2019 and awarded the 7th Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2018. She produces works stemming from a deeply involved research process that explores the complexities of social histories. Central to her practice is the voice: the uncovering of marginalised voices within history, the question of who speaks on behalf of whom and on what terms, as well as how her own voice reflects in different ways on the stories explored in her work.

Woodrow has a background as an artist and working within grassroots artist-run organisations. He was previously Director/CEO of EVA International, Ireland’s biennial of contemporary art in Limerick from 2011–17, and the Curator of the Irish Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. As Director of John Hansard Gallery, part of University of Southampton and an Arts Council England’s National Portfolio, Woodrow plays an influential role within the visual arts sector locally, regionally and nationally.

On their appointment, Helen Cammock and Woodrow Kernohan jointly commented:

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work together as Co-Chairs of Visual Arts South West. It has become ever more important for networks and representative bodies to advocate for and create support structures for the visual arts sector, whether that be for individual artists, arts professionals, organisations or groups. In 2020 the pandemic, climate emergency, Brexit transition and Black Lives Matter movement have highlighted risks, urgency and uncertainty, alongside both the need and opportunity for significant positive change. These changes require dialogue and collective focussed attention. We are excited to work together with Paula Orrell, VASW team, Emily Bull as Vice Chair, VASW Steering Group and the wider network to place the artist’s voice at the centre, and significantly progress our shared commitment to decarbonisation, intersectional practice and equity.”

Paula Orrell, VASW Network Manager, commented:

"What an opportunity we have as a network for the visual arts in the South West to work with Helen and Woodrow. Their insight, passion and commitment at this time of acute crisis is essential leadership as Co-Chairs. I worked with Woodrow when I was at the Arts Council, and was impressed with his ability to think 360. Helen's work draws us to think carefully about the world that we live in, and to think critically about our contested histories and traditions. We need this now more than ever. Woodrow suggested that the Co-Chair should be an artist and put forward Helen. I am genuinely excited for our network. This is a real opportunity to support the development of contemporary art in this region."

Helen Cammock and Woodrow Kernohan take over from previous Co-Chairs of VASW: Jamie Eastman, Director of Arts, University of Bath, and Louise Coysh, Associate Director for Arts and Culture, University of Southampton. They will continue to work closely with Emily Bull from Creative Youth Network as Vice Chair.

Helen Cammock
was born in 1970 in Staffordshire. She grew up in Somerset and currently lives and works between Brighton and London. Cammock was the joint recipient of The Turner Prize 2019 and the 7th Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2018. Recent exhibitions include Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (2020); Collezione Maramotti, Italy (2020); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2019); Turner Contemporary, Margate (2019); VOID, Derry, Northern Ireland; The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2019); Reading Museum; Cubitt, London (2017). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany; Somerset House, London; Hollybush Gardens, London, and Firstsite, Colchester. She has staged performances at Turner Contemporary, Margate; Collezione Maramotti, Italy; The Showroom, London; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Cubitt, London; VOID, Derry, Northern Ireland and the ICA, London.

The Serpentine Gallery is due to present Cammock’s project Radio Ballads in 2021. Her new film Concrete Feather and Porcelain Tacks is co-commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, The Photographers Gallery and Contemporary Art Society and will be exhibited in solo exhibitions at The Photographers Gallery and Touchstones Gallery, Rochdale Museum in 2021. She will perform as part of Performance Exchange, London, 2020 and has solo exhibitions with Oakville Galleries, Toronto and Rivers Institute, New Orleans in association with the California African American Museum, Los Angeles and Amistad Research Center, New Orleans in 2021. She is participating in the British Art Show 9, 2021–22 and is represented by Kate MacGarry Gallery, London.

Woodrow Kernohan was born in 1975 in Belfast and grew up in Dorset. He is the Director of John Hansard Gallery, one of the UK's leading contemporary art galleries that was founded in 1979 and is part of the University of Southampton, part of Arts Council England's National Portfolio, and member of the Plus Tate network. Since joining John Hansard Gallery in 2017, Woodrow has led the reimagining of the organisation and relocation from Highfield campus to its new purpose-built home in Southampton’s city centre in 2018. Prior to joining John Hansard Gallery, he was Director of EVA International, Ireland's biennial of contemporary art in Limerick from 2011–17, was Curator of the Irish Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 and was Co-Director of Brighton Photo Fringe with Helen Cammock from 2008–11. He was also Curator and Co-Director with experimental exhibition space Permanent Gallery, Brighton (2004–11), Exhibitions Curator at restoration project The Regency Town House, Hove (2006–11) and is a member of IBA, the International Biennial Association and IKT, the International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art.

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