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Woodrow Kernohan appointed Director of the John Hansard Gallery

Published: 
14 December 2016
Image of Woodrow Kenrohan
Woodrow Kenrohan is excited to start as Director of the John Hansard Gallery

The University of Southampton and the John Hansard Gallery have announced that Woodrow Kernohan, Director and CEO of EVA International will succeed Professor Stephen Foster as Director of the John Hansard Gallery.

As Director, Kernohan will take the gallery into an exciting new phase as it relocates to the city centre in Studio 144, the new £28.5m arts venue which opens in 2017 in Southampton’s cultural quarter. The Gallery, which originally opened in1980, has played a dynamic role in the cultural life of Southampton and the region, through its critically-acclaimed curatorial and education programme, central to which is the Gallery's contribution to the world-renowned research culture of the University of Southampton.

"I am thrilled to have been appointed as the new Director of Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery,” says Kernohan. “Growing up in the region, the Gallery was a constant reference point for me and I am delighted to be returning to the area to take up this role and build on Professor Stephen Foster’s legacy. The Gallery’s new location in Studio 144 has been made possible through pioneering partnership and I am looking forward to joining the team and working closely with partners to realise the John Hansard Gallery’s next phase in Southampton’s cultural quarter."

Kernohan is currently Director/CEO of EVA International – Ireland’s biennial of contemporary art that takes place in galleries, museums, ex-industrial sites, and public spaces across Limerick City in the west of Ireland. In 2015 he was also the Curator of the Irish Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, presenting Sean Lynch’s ‘Adventure: Capital’ in the Arsenale.

Since joining EVA International in 2011, Kernohan has overseen the relaunching and development of the organisation from being an annual exhibition to becoming Ireland’s Biennial. In 2012 he worked with guest curator Annie Fletcher for ‘After the Future’ that included 42 Irish and international artists, in 2014 ‘AGITATIONISM’ curated by Bassam El Baroni included 56 artists as part of Limerick National City of Culture 2014, and in 2016 ‘Still (the) Barbarians’ curated by Koyo Kouoh included 57 artists as part of the 1916 Easter Rising centenary celebrations.

Prior to EVA International, Kernohan was Co-Director of photography festival Brighton Photo Fringe, Co-Director of experimental exhibition space Permanent Gallery, and Exhibitions Curator at restoration project The Regency Town House, all in Brighton & Hove. With Permanent Gallery and The Regency Town House, Woodrow created projects with over 200 artists between 2004–11 and with Brighton Photo Fringe coordinated city-wide biennial festivals with over 80 exhibitions in 2008 and over 130 exhibitions in 2010. He is a member of IBA, International Biennial Association and IKT, International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art.

Professor Stephen Foster, who has led the John Hansard Gallery for the last thirty years and has been instrumental in the creation of Studio 144, will retire at the end of April 2017 following extraordinary 30 year tenure at the Gallery. Foster has been instrumental in the creation of Studio 144, central to which has been the ambition for the Gallery to have major impact in the civic and cultural life of the city as well as the international art world. The title of Emeritus Professor will be conferred on Professor Foster effective on the date of his retirement and the University of Southampton and John Hansard Gallery look forward to a continuing relationship with Professor Foster.

“I am delighted that Woodrow Kernohan has been chosen as my successor and I hope that the appointment will bring him at least a portion of the satisfaction, enjoyment and fulfilment that it has brought me over the years,” says Professor Foster. “We were anxious that my successor would be someone who would ‘get it’ in terms of the Gallery’s unique offer and reputation and continue what the gallery has achieved to date, but also to build on it and take it to areas and in directions that we have so far merely imagined. Woodrow is that person.”

Sir Christopher Snowden, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Southampton adds: "Under Professor Stephen Foster's leadership, the John Hansard Gallery has built a reputation for critically acclaimed international, contemporary art exhibitions and a pioneering education programme. The Gallery is a huge asset to the University of Southampton and we thank Stephen for his tireless work over the last 30 years. We are delighted to welcome Woodrow Kernohan who will succeed Stephen as Director of the John Hansard Gallery and look forward to working with him as he drives forward his bold vision for the Gallery in its new city centre home.”

Southampton’s landmark arts venue Studio 144 brings the John Hansard Gallery and NST, Nuffield Southampton Theatres into the heart of the city centre for the first time, together with media and film specialists City Eye. All three organisations will be moving in from spring 2017.

Studio 144 is being led by Southampton City Council, supported by Arts Council England through their National Lottery-funded Capital programme, alongside the University of Southampton and Southampton Cultural Development Trust. The project was born of the partners’ belief in the power of the arts to transform people, places and communities, and an understanding that cultural infrastructure capital is an important part of this.

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