New director to take over at Turner Contemporary in January

Clarrie Wallis. Credit Matt Greenwood

A new director has been appointed at Turner Contemporary to step into the shoes of Victoria Pomery who left the role this month.

Clarrie Wallis, who has been Tate’s Senior Curator of Contemporary Art (British) since 2016 and a curator at Tate since 1999, will take up the position in January.

Sarah Martin, Turner Contemporary’s head of exhibitions, is interim director in the meantime.

Clarrie takes over after Victoria moved on to be the new Chief Executive Officer at The Box, Plymouth after 14 years at the helm from the gallery’s planning stages to its tenth anniversary.

At Tate, Clarrie has been responsible for leading on the strategic development, implementation and communication of Tate’s vision for contemporary British Art.

She has curated many landmark exhibitions including Mark Leckey O’ Magic Power of Bleakness (2019), Mike Nelson: The Asset Strippers (2019), Cerith Wyn Evans: Forms in Space..By Light (In Time) (2017), Mona Hatoum (2016), Patrick Caulfield (2013), Richard Long: Heaven & Earth (2009), Mark Wallinger: State Britain (2007) and Tacita Dean: Recent Films and Other Works (2001).

Clarrie was lead curator for Steve McQueen: Year 3 (2019) which saw the development of an artwork that was the most ambitious citizenship portrait ever undertaken in Britain, drawing in 76,000 7-8 year olds, their schools and families in exploring their connection to each other and to London.

During her tenure at Tate, Wallis re-established the Art Now programme for emerging artists which is run by young curators. Recent projects include Serafine 1369, Cooking Sections, Sofia Al-Maria, Joanna Piotrowska and Lisa Brice. In addition to her work on exhibitions, Wallis played a key role in the growth of Tate’s collection, helping develop the museum’s holdings of modern and contemporary art. She is also the author of monographs on Rose Wylie, Richard Deacon, Patrick Caulfield and a Richard Long Reader.

Clive Stevens, Chair of Turner Contemporary, said: “I and my fellow Trustees are delighted that Clarrie will be joining Turner Contemporary to drive the next stage of the gallery’s development.

“It is a very exciting time for the whole team and I know Clarrie will engage with both the art world and our local community to bring first class art to Margate. Clarrie’s standing and knowledge is impeccable – we could not have wished for a better person to lead our gallery and build on the legacy left by Victoria Pomery.”

Clarrie added: “I am delighted to be appointed as Director of Turner Contemporary. This is a great opportunity to lead a world-class art gallery, develop its profile further, and inspire positive change locally.

“Margate is a very special place. Working with the excellent team there, I look forward to creating new experiences for visitors and to supporting artists at pivotal moments in their careers. I plan to direct an ambitious, collaborative programme for a truly broad audience, questioning what art can be and advancing the conversation about contemporary practice, as well as developing relationships within the community of Margate and further afield.”

2021 marks ten years since the opening of Turner Contemporary. It has received 3.6 million visits and is credited with generating over £70million for the local economy.

The gallery staff have worked with over 100,000 local children and young people to offer them access to high quality creative learning opportunities. Each year, around 6% of visits come from individuals who have never been to a museum or gallery in their lives before. The gallery has exhibited the work of over 2000 artists. In 2019, it hosted the world-famous Turner Prize.

In September, Turner Contemporary launched The Director’s Fund, which is established in honour of Victoria. The Fund is to sustain research and enable artist commissions, exhibitions, learning, participation, and digital projects.


  1. Oh dear,
    Just when TC needed a big boot a safe EO establishment figure is appointed
    More mediocraty and PR bullshit for increasing shrinking local public who are poorly served by this appointment

  2. same old obsession with the tracey emin centre – i mean turner gallery , like a lot of locals i have never visited it and i never will.

        • Yep. I’ve tried several times and been underwhelmed on each occasion, the last visit was for the “turner prize entries” art so appalling that even the artists were too embarrassed to want to be in the limelight alone and so chose to share the prize. Not that my opinion as an individual has any real weight, however is anough feel the same perhaps there is a problem.

  3. Give her a chance. Her idea for a Cyril Hoser Exhibition could be a triumph. The Riveroaks sponsored water colour interactive experience ! The Jimmy Godden son et lumiere.

    The Found Floating in the Sea Tribute to Natural Art.

    It could even be vibrant and exciting and inspiring

  4. Turner Contemptuous booted out all their Gallery Assistants during lockdown and just before Christmas……nice…..they really dont care about local people. Subsequently they have been forcing these ex employees who wanted Redundancy to sign a ‘Non Disclosure Order’ to shut them up…..not me tho….I didnt sign it…ha ha

  5. quite right steve , it seems any one can get away with anything in the name of ” art ” so far i have not seen a thing remotely near what mr turner painted , and after all its his name over the door .a pile of bricks is just that – put the same pile of bricks in there and its art ???

  6. Despite the detractors the gallery is a fantastic space for all sorts of creative media .
    I welcome this appointment and hope to see some real engagement with locals and the more disadvantaged in the locality which is still lacking . Many in Margate are tired of the Ivory tower syndrome associated with the Turner and the over conceptualisation of art / installations that bear little relation to peoples struggle .
    My other criticism is despite the spin the gallery appears to be coming less accessible as evidenced by the the cafe and restaurant prices !
    As stated above the employment practices if correct need to be addressed and remedied immediately by the new post holder as they reflect all that is bad and hypocritical about this sort of main stream institution attempting to represent itself as cutting edge. Naive as it may be to ask why does merchandising take up so much space at the expect of art space ?

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