Protea – International Curatorial Exchange
This programme is closed, and we are not accepting Expressions of Interest.
As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations to mark the creation of John Ellerman Foundation in 1971, we devised Protea, a new international curatorial exchange programme.
Our anniversary presented a special opportunity to build on the Foundation’s existing work in supporting curatorial development via our Museums and Galleries Fund. Protea enabled us to extend our understanding of what curating is, the forms it can take and where and how it can have impact.
The project name Protea references the national flower of South Africa and, in its allusion to the legend of Proteus, acknowledges the transformative outcomes that can be activated through imaginative and resourceful curatorship. Selected curators from the UK and South Africa were invited to undertake field research in the form of 10-day bilateral visits taking place between April and August 2022.
The project had two points of origin: a focus on curatorial development, which underscores the Foundation’s existing commitment to supporting curatorial excellence through its Museums and Galleries Fund; and the longstanding connections between the Foundation’s founder, Sir John Ellerman II, and the two countries in which he spent most of his life – the UK and South Africa.
The overarching strategic aim of the project – one that informs all the Foundation’s activities – was to advance wellbeing for people, society and the natural world – delivered primarily through the Foundations’ grantmaking in the Arts, Social Action and the Environment.
This Exchange provided valuable opportunities for individual curators to undertake field research that supports their personal and professional development - acquiring new knowledge, international contacts and wider networks that will be of value to them and their institutions.
Curator candidates were selected through a two-stage process comprising initial expressions of interest, followed by requests for proposals.
The successful candidates for this exchange are listed below, and they were both ambassadors for their practice and their institutions as well as being part of a new international enterprise that may serve as a model for others.
From South Africa:
- Annelize Kotze, working with Chief Curator of Art & Social History, Iziko Museums of South Africa, Cape Town
- Dr Melissa Boonzaaier-Davids, Assistant Curator (Marine Invertebrates), Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town
- Francois Lion-Cachet, Curator, Public Engagement, Constitutional Court Art Collection, Constitutional Court Trust
- Dr Motsane Getrude Seabela, Curator of the Anthropology Collection, Ditsong Museums of South Africa’s Cultural History Museum
- Dr Erica de Greef, Co-Director African Research Institute AFRI, Curator at Large in Fashion at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAA), Cape Town.
From the UK:
- Dr Andrew Mills, Curator for Archaeology & World Cultures, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow
- Dr Njabulo Chipangura, Curator of Living Cultures, The University of Manchester, Manchester Museum
- Alison Moloney, PhD candidate on the Advanced Practices Programme within the Visual Cultures department at Goldsmiths, University of London and Associate Member of the Centre for Fashion Curation, UAL.
Through Protea, the institutional partners involved – which included national or regional museums, archives, research centres, heritage asset owners, universities, local authorities – built new contacts, imported and shared expertise, and identified strategic openings to advocate for action/change.
For curating as a practice and discourse, we hope this Exchange brought insights that illuminated the value of curating as a means for unlocking creativity, building alliances, fuelling support, influencing power, and driving change.
The full report outlining our findings from Protea is available here.