Bristol UWE Fellow Janette Kerr elected President of the RWA

Issue date: 11 November 2011

Janette Kerr, a visiting fellow from UWE Bristol, has been elected as the fourth female president of the Royal West of England Academy. Janette Kerr studied for her PhD in Fine Art at UWE Bristol and was supervised by Professor Paul Gough who is Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

The appointment is the latest in a long list of artists from UWE Bristol who have had a close association with the RWA. Previous presidents with close UWE Bristol links include the late Peter Thursby who was a sculpture student at the West of England College of Art and Derek Balmer, a painting graduate. Both have acted as Pro-Chancellors of UWE Bristol and have been awarded honorary doctorates.

Other current RWA academicians with recent links to UWE Bristol include Richard Anderton (alumnus and long term lecturer), Stephen Hoskins (HP Professor), Emma Stibbon (MA Multidisciplinary printmaking), Elizabeth Turrell, former Senior Research Fellow – enamelling and Patrick Daw. Jack Chalker, the world famous war artist was Head of the Department of Art and Design at the former Bristol Polytechnic.

Janette is the fourth female President to have been elected at the RWA – the previous three being Dame Janet Stancombe Wills (1911-32), Yda Richardson (1932-36) and Mary Fedden OBE RA (1984-89).

Professor Paul Gough is delighted with the appointment of Janette Kerr, he comments, “This is an important appointment in continuing strong links between Bristol UWE and RWA. Dr Kerr is an outstanding example of an artist who can also be a curator, an inspirational teacher and lecturer, and an academic – in short a paradigm of the UWE principle.”

Janette says, “I am delighted to have been elected as President of the Royal West of England Academy. The RWA has been changing – and changing for the better. Together with our new Director, Trystan Hawkins, we have been planning some exciting shows; the doors are wide open and more people are coming through them.

“These are very challenging times for the arts, particularly within the current economic climate. I am confident that these changes will ensure and secure its continuance as a twenty-first century Academy of excellence and inspiration in the arts. Open to all, it provides opportunities for national and international artists and its recent programme of shows and events is already attracting new audiences, encouraging engagement and dialogue on all levels.

“I feel very positive about the RWA and its future. I'm really proud to have become the President and to be able to be part of its development at this stage in its history. However as an artist I have a strong commitment to my own artistic practice. I am passionate about continuing to extend this, and keen to engage in dialogue regarding contemporary art. The RWA is more than a gallery – it's an academy, and I see part of my role as President as encouraging the continuing development of its scholarly and artistic identity, as well as supporting all elements of the RWA's activities.”


Editor's notes

Janette Kerr RWA is a visual artist working primarily with drawing and painting, and a Visiting Research Fellow in Fine Art at UWE Bristol. She completed a practice-based Fine Art PhD in 2005 at UWE Bristol. Exhibiting nationally and internationally, her paintings are held in private and public collections. Drawn to extreme perimeters of land, her work is an index of edges and ledges, exposed headlands and wind-swept seas.

Kerr is currently working on a research and development project concerning the interface between art and science, related to history and narratives of the sea around the Shetland Islands and the work of Norwegian Oceanographers, scouring the seas for extreme waves. Some of this work will be on show at the RWA in February 2012.

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