Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

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Jade French

Visiting Research Fellow

BA, MA, PhD

Jade French is a museum professional and researcher based in Liverpool. Jade has worked extensively alongside community groups to explore the intersection of curating, participation and social change, with a focus on issues of intellectual access and inclusion within museums, galleries and heritage sites. Her research currently explores inclusive and accessible curating and its role in initiating broader conversations around democracy and diversity in cultural spaces.

Biography

Jade French is a museum professional and researcher who has been running participatory and inclusive arts projects since 2009. During this time Jade has worked extensively alongside community groups, namely learning disabled people, to explore the intersection of contemporary art, disability and social change, with a focus on issues of intellectual access and inclusion within museums and galleries.

Jade’s research currently explores inclusive approaches to curating, commissioning and interpreting art and their role in initiating broader conversations around democracy and diversity in cultural spaces. Jade is currently writing a book for Arc Humanities Press ‘Inclusive Curating in Contemporary Art: A Practical Guide’, as well as editing a second book ‘Intellectual Disability and Visual Art: A Critical Enquiry’ for publisher Palgrave Macmillan.

Jade’s practice has primarily taken the form of visual art exhibitions and public workshop programmes, but she has also produced a number of collaborative book projects, films and zines. She has worked with a variety of cultural institutions including Bluecoat, The Atkinson, Hull City of Culture and The Women’s Library, and in June/July 2018 was awarded The Fire Station Studio’s International Curator Residency in Dublin, Ireland.

In addition to her academic work, Jade acted as Director of Development at The Royal Standard, an artist-led gallery and studio complex and is currently an Associate Artist at The Turnpike, a gallery in Greater Manchester. She has undertaken independent research evaluations and and reporting for organisations such as DASH, Artlink and Hull City of Culture 2017. Jade was the winner of The Double Negative’s and John Moore’s University critical writing competition ‘#BeACritic’ and was featured on University of Leeds’ ‘Women of Achievement’ roll for her contributions to socially-engaged arts practices.

Research Interests

Jade is a practice-led researcher whose research interests emerge from practical experience of running inclusive and participatory arts projects. Areas of interest include;

  • Inclusive approaches to curating and interpretation
  • Inclusive and participatory arts practices
  • Disability arts
  • Access and inclusion in museums, galleries and heritage
  • Disability and diversity in museums, galleries and heritage
  • ‘Engagement’ and ‘participation’ in museums, galleries and heritage
  • Co-production and co-design in cultural spaces
  • Disability Studies and Self-Advocacy
  • Arts and activism
  • Zines and DIY culture

Teaching

Placements in Context: Policy, Organisations and Practice Module – MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies/MA Arts Management and Heritage Studies

Publications

Books

  • French J (2019). Inclusive Curating in Contemporary Art A Practical Guide. . (Accepted)

Chapters

  • French J (2019). Auto Agents. Inclusive Curatorship and its Political Potential. In Sandell R & Janes R (Ed.) Museum Activism() Museum Meanings. London: Routledge. (Accepted)

Conference papers

  • French J ‘Curating as Inclusion: A case study of Auto Agents’. In International Seminar on Accessibility in Museums and Cultural Spaces: Challenges and Inspirations.. International Seminar on Accessibility in Museums and Cultural Spaces: Challenges and Inspirations, CPF Sesc São Paulo, 13/05/2018 - 19/05/2018 (In preparation)

Thesis / Dissertations

  • French J Art as Advocacy. Exploring curatorial practice by learning disabled artists as a site for self-advocacy.

Research Projects & Grants

Research Funding

2018 Large Travel Grant Sāo Paulo. International Seminar on Accessibility in Museums and Cultural Spaces: Challenges and Inspirations. GEPAM Brazil

2017 Large Travel Grant. 33rd International Conference on Disability and Diversity. White Rose College of Arts & Humanities

2016 Large Travel Grant. 9th International Conference on the Inclusive Museum. White Rose College of Arts & Humanities

2015 #BeACritic. Arts Critic Development Award. John Moore’s University and The Double Negative

2014 Student Led Forum Grant. Arts and Social Change Network. White Rose College of Arts & Humanities

2014 Collaborative Doctoral Award. PhD ScholarshipArts and Humanities Research Council

2013 Artworks: Changing the Conversation Development Grant. PAC: Participatory Arts ConnectPaul Hamlyn Foundation CI

2013 Springboard Grant. The Dugout FestivalUniversity of Brighton

Arts Funding

2017 Exhibitions Award. Ultra Wet. Fluxus

2017 Active Arts Grant. Risograph Printing Project. Empire Trust

2017 Awards for England. Working Together: Improving the Social Space at The Royal Standard Gallery. Big Lottery Fund

2017 Exhibitions Grant. And Yet It Moves. Henry Moore Foundation

2017 Mitie Foundation. Tool Donation to an Artist-Led Studio. Mitie

2016 Lead the Change. Positive You. Wellbeing Enterprises

Research Centres & Groups

Member of Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage

PhD Thesis

Art as Advocacy. Exploring curatorial practice by learning disabled artists as a tool for self-advocacy.

Over the past 20 years within the UK the concept of self-advocacy has gained momentum by enabling people with learning disabilities to speak out in order to affect change. In the same period, inclusive approaches have been taken up both in research and in the arts, reflecting a growing recognition of people with learning disabilities as researchers, artists, performers and communicators. Yet curation has only rarely been used as an inclusive practice and then principally in museums dealing with history (Open University, 2008; Museum of Liverpool, 2014; Access All Areas, 2017) rather than in the context of art galleries.

Via a practice-led research approach, Art as Advocacy addressed this gap by exploring the potential for participatory curatorial practice by learning disabled artists to act as a site for self-advocacy. It brought together members of self-advocacy group Halton Speak Out and members of Bluecoat’s inclusive arts project Blue Room, to curate the visual arts exhibition Auto Agents. These curators developed an exhibition theme, collaborated with artists, commissioned new artwork and designed accessible interpretation for audiences.

The purpose, through the curation of Auto Agents, has been to produce a rich account of the ways in which curatorial and self-advocacy practices intersect. It is intended that this research will contribute to a greater understanding of accessible and inclusive accessible approaches to curating, demonstrating there are ways to critically engage a wide demographic of people with what is often considered an exclusive job for the privileged few. Therefore, it is also hoped that this study speaks to wider conversations about the political work of the gallery, and is part of a growing trend in addressing how these spaces can be democratised.

Link to full text: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/19432/

Professional Practice

Jade currently acts as Community Engagement Coordinator for the Catalyst Museum. She is also a curatorial facilitator for The Brindley gallery and Positive You for Recipe for a Good Life exhibition. Jade is a museum access and inclusion consultant employed by museums including The Royal Standard, The Atkinson, DASH Arts to develop inclusive programmes and bids, as well as delivering training to staff. Jade has undertaken independent evaluations and reporting for organisations such as Artlink and Hull City of Culture 2017.

Links

www.jade-french.com

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