Funded PhD Opportunity – Northumbria University & Laing Art Gallery

Nerys Johnson: Contexts, Archive and Collection at the Laing Art Gallery.

Principal supervisor: Dr Victoria Horne (Art History)

Second supervisor: Dr Claudine Van Hensbergen (English Literature)



AHRC-funded through the Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Consortium

We are seeking a PhD candidate with a background in Art History or Cultural Studies, and an interest in politics of gender, health and/or location to undertake research into new art and archival acquisitions at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  This exciting opportunity will be of interest to those wishing to develop a career in academia or the cultural sector.

Nerys Johnson (1942-2001) was a Welsh-born artist and curator who pursued a successful professional career in the North East of England, whilst living with the challenges of rheumatoid arthritis. Johnson organised notable exhibitions (of artists as diverse as John Martin and Henry Moore), cultivated cultural networks, and worked prodigiously as an artist in later years. The Laing Art Gallery is in the process of acquiring the archive of this prolific artist-curator which includes personal correspondence, diaries, and effects; professional papers relating to Johnson’s curatorial career; over 200 artworks in addition to the 62 already held in the Gallery’s collection.  This PhD project provides the opportunity to work with that archive and collection, to learn professional cataloguing skills, co-curate an exhibition, and produce a doctoral thesis of 75,000-80,000 words.

Johnson’s life and work has remained peripheral to both mainstream and alternative accounts of British Art History in the post-war and contemporary periods. We invite prospective candidates to consider what tools are best suited to writing a critical history of Johnson that anchors her work in the social, historical and political contexts of her lifetime. We explicitly seek experimental, inventive, and intellectually rigorous ways of working with these fresh archival materials. Proposals should be attentive to the critical effects of gender, region and/or health within this history.

Applicants should submit a 2-page CV and a 1-page personal statement setting out the contribution they will make through the PhD project. The deadline for applications through the Northumbria online portal is January 28th 2022, with shortlisted candidates interviewed in February 2022. The studentship will be awarded to the successful applicant subject to ratification by the Northern Bridge Consortium studentship committee.

We encourage potential applicants to contact Dr Horne (email above) for further information and advice on applying.

More information about this studentship and about the application process including eligibility criteria, can be found at:

Web Design SkiptonWeb Developer Skipton

Copyright 2023. All Rights Reserved