Katrina Palmer in residence

by Alain Chivilò


What is the Artist in Residence programme? It invites a mid-career artist to develop  practice in the context of the museum and to benefit from unparalleled access to the Gallery’s collection. The partnership between the National Gallery and Touchstones Rochdale allows the artist to respond not only to one of the greatest collections of paintings in the Western European tradition but also, an outstanding collection in the borough of Rochdale covering a wide range of subjects, from visual art to archaeology, social history to costume and textiles. In a move to enrich regional collections, the residency enables a work by Palmer to travel to Rochdale, where it will be acquired by the Contemporary Art Society for Touchstones Rochdale’s permanent collection.

The place is the National Gallery in London and already three artists were chosen since the launch of the Gallery’s new Modern and Contemporary Programme: Rosalind Nashashibi (2019), Ali Cherri (2021) and Céline Condorelli (2022).

Now it’s time to communicate and unveil the artist number four for the year 2024 in Residence: British (London-born and based) Katrina Palmer.

Palmer does not work with just one expressive medium but, moves from installations to audio productions, from the use of the words to moving images. Going into detail as pointed out, her work explores a range of spaces from island quarries to offices, prisons to coastal landscapes. Using objects, sound, writing and drawing she investigates the possibilities of sculpture through text and language. Previous projects have engaged with concepts of absence and dislocation within historic sites.

Artist in Residence programme, at the National Gallery, is a collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society, generously supported by Anna Yang and Joseph Schull, who will acquire an artwork produced during the residency for this year’s Partner Museum, Touchstones Rochdale.

The declarations were of mutual satisfaction and respect. Artist Katrina Palmer said: “I’m thrilled to have been selected as the National Gallery’s Artist in Residence. The spectacular imagery and narratives of the collection and the various movements of power at play are as intriguing as they are challenging. The prospect of working in the context of these artworks is genuinely exhilarating”.
Caroline Douglas, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, noted: “now going into its fourth year, this residency project has established itself as a unique opportunity for an artist to engage with two UK institutions of very different scale and circumstances. The programme at Touchstones Rochdale has been very impressive for many years, championing women artists in particular and leading the way in engaging with its communities. I am confident that Katrina Palmer will find it an enriching experience to spend the coming year exploring all the possibilities the residency offers”.
Mark Doyle, Director of Arts, Heritage and Wellness at Your Trust/Touchstones Rochdale pointed out: “we’re delighted to be working with the National Gallery on its Artist in Residence programme. Katrina’s approach to sculpture challenges accepted norms, and her interest in memory and absence complements Touchstones’ work to uncover the stories that aren’t currently being told by Rochdale’s collections. We’re looking forward to seeing how our collections and archives will help to inspire a new piece of work by an internationally acclaimed artist”.

Biography by NG

Katrina Palmer, born 1967 in London, where she also now lives and works. Katrina Palmer’s practice encompasses sculpture, writing, drawing, audio environments, performance, and video. Palmer is best known for her investigations of sculptural materiality, which often involve written compositions and site-specific recordings to explore histories of absence within landscapes or institutional spaces. Her commission End Matter for Artangel in 2015 saw her situated on the Isle of Portland where Portland stone is quarried. She produced an audio tour based on her writing during her residency on the isle which was turned into a play for Radio 4 and a publication. Palmer has exhibited widely, including at Tate Britain, the Hayward Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and the Henry Moore Institute. In 2014, she was awarded the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists, and was shortlisted for the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award in 2015. She completed her PhD at the Royal College of Art in 2012 and this year received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sussex. A third edition of her book The Dark Object (Book Works, London, 2010) was published this year. Palmer is an Associate Professor of Sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art.


©AC, NDSL, AM, Alain Chivilo

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