New director to take over at Turner Contemporary in January

New director 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.