Gill Hedleyback

Curator & Contemporary Art Consultant

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Gill Hedley speaking at Site Gallery, Sheffield, in 2006

© Gill Hedley  24 Nov 2017
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Gill Hedley is an independent curator, writer and consultant on contemporary visual arts. The menu to the left leads to different aspects of her work. On some pages blue links in bullet points open for more detail. Below are current and recent projects, with more on the archive page.

The Hatton Gallery at Newcastle University re-opened in October 2017 with an exhibition that firmly places Newcastle as the birthplace of Pop Art.

The Hatton has played a unique role in the development of British Art, being entwined with some of the most influential artists of the 20th century. This exhibition, co-curated by Gill Hedley, reflects the numerous artists, writers, activities and ideas which had at their centre the artist Richard Hamilton, while teaching at Newcastle University (1953-1966).

catalogue cover, Oct 2017
Mark Lancaster, in his studio, Newcastle University photo by Chris Morphet, courtesy Chris Morphet and Mark Lancaster

Just what was is that made yesterday’s homes so different, so appealing (Upgrade) 2004. © R. Hamilton

There is a talk on Thurs 9th Nov by the curators Dr Anne Massey and Gill Hedley.

→ Catalogue essay Pioneers of Pop


In 1953, Britain had a new young queen and cities like Newcastle upon Tyne felt optimistic and modern.

In 1966, England won the World Cup.

Between those dates, Richard Hamilton taught in the Fine Art Department of King’s College. In London he had been a part of The Independent Group, a radical group of young artists, writers and architects, who met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and challenged the modernist (and as they saw it, elitist) culture dominant at that time.

One of Hamilton’s contributions was a definition of pop art which, as he wrote to the architects Peter and Ann Smithson (who met at Newcastle) would be: Popular, transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and Big Business.

Pop art also flourished at the Royal College in London; pop was only a small part of Hamilton’s work. He spent much of his time in Newcastle creating exhibitions, designing posters and making his own work, teaching by example how to become an individual artist. Students and staff went to lunchtime dances, music clubs and poetry readings. Men who had the cash or worked as Saturday shop assistants bought the latest US imports from Marcus Price’s boutique. In 1965, Bob Dylan even tried on a jacket there.

Hundreds of artists passed through the Fine Art department between 1953-1966. None remained pop artists but all were affected by the changing, lively party city; most would agree with Rose Frain:

Living in Newcastle was wonderful and the Department was heaven.

Moving Through, 2016 (detail)

I have just completed the final draft of a book to mark the bicentenary of the Incorporated Church Building Society. In the years after Waterloo a group of remarkable men chivvied the government to build more churches in urban areas; parliament eventually voted £1.5m and built 600 “Waterloo” churches up till 1851. But the ICBS themselves steadfastly raised more money to build and enlarge churches themselves in parallel, fighting to get rid of pews and achieve free seats for all. They helped over 1,400 churches until ICBS was finally amalgamated with the National Churches Trust.

Free Seats For All: The Church-Building Boom After Waterloo will be published by Umbria Press in May 2018 and launched at Lambeth Palace.

I am working with the John Deakin Archive to find more photographs by this extraordinary character and to learn more about his life before he met Francis Bacon. He worked a great deal beyond his usual patch of Soho and new images - not just portraits - have been identified from time spent in Genoa, Rome, Paris and Athens; his war-time work is just beginning to be uncovered, too.

In the 1930s he travelled all over the world while he was living with Arthur Jeffress: my biography of that character is still growing, too ...

Courtesy Robin Muir

I am honoured to say that I have just joined the Art Monthly Foundation as a trustee. For those of you who are not yet subscribers, please do support this wonderful publication:

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