Ben Uri has at its core a commitment to creating and sharing scholarship that is easily accessible across every level of interest, from casual, to knowledgeable, to expert. We strive to share our stories in novel and engaging fashion such as 60 second insights on BUTV and Brief Lives presentations on Audio Adventures, alongside full-scale academic research in the Ben Uri Research Unit. Our research focus on the Jewish and immigrant contribution to British visual art culture since 1900 is unique in this country. So too is our research, evaluation and resultant programming of a wide range of pioneering art interventions, using our collection as the source and inspiration, curated in response to the ever-growing demands of mental health in our society; and a recognition that the visual arts can make a distinctive contribution. Both these project and charity objectives reflect our ethos and are fundamental constituents of our public benefit contribution.
Sarah MacDougall: Director
Sarah MacDougall (MA, University of Reading) has been appointed Director of Ben Uri and took up her position on 1st November 2020. She was previously Head of Collections and the Ben Uri Research Unit (BURU) and has been a curator at Ben Uri since 2002. She is the former Eva Frankfurther Research and Curatorial Fellow for the Study of Émigré Artists (2011–2016). Her solo exhibitions curated include Refugees: The Lives of Others (2016); Refiguring the Fifties: Eardley, Fell, Frankfurther, Herman, Lowry (2013–2014); Chaïm Soutine and his contemporaries (2012); Josef Herman: Warsaw, Brussels, Glasgow, London, 1938–44 (2011). Collaborative exhibitions include: Alfred Cohen: An American Artist in Europe (2020); Jankel Adler: A “Degenerate” Artist in Britain, 1940–1949 (2019), Bomberg (2017–18), Out of Chaos (2015); Max Weber (2014);‘Uproar!’: The First 50 Years of The London Group (2013); Forced Journeys: Artists in Exile, 1933–45 (2009–10), Whitechapel at War: Isaac Rosenberg and his Circle (2008). Sarah has developed and edited the Ben Uri Collection, Eva Frankfurther and BURU online websites. She co-supervises PhD candidates (on David Bomberg), with London South Bank University, and (émigré art dealers), Kingston University.
Sarah is a Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies (London University) committee member, co-editing Yearbook 19 (Brill, 2019), and publishing on Ganymed and Oskar Kokoschka’s “King Lear”. She has contributed widely to publications including, most recently, on émigré art teachers, in Insiders Outsiders: Refugees from Nazi Europe and their Contribution to British Visual Culture (Lund Humphries, 2019).
She has lectured widely at institutions including the Courtauld, Imperial War Museum, NPG, Reading University, Senate House (London University), Tate Britain and Whitechapel Art Gallery. Sarah is the author of a biography of Mark Gertler (London: John Murray, 2002) and a Gertler catalogue raisonné is in progress (Yale University Press), as well as being guest curator of the Gertler room at Tate Britain (2019). Recently, she collaborated on a Gertler project with Prof. Aviva Burnstock (Courtauld Institute of Art), with upcoming papers (BAPCR conference, Wallace Collection, 2020) and Paul Mellon Journal (due 2020).
Rachel Dickson: Consultant Editor, Freelance
Rachel Dickson (MA Courtauld), is Senior Research Manager of the Ben Uri Research Unit (BURU). Curator at Ben Uri since 2002 and headed curatorial services until this new appointment. Her solo projects include: Art Out of the Bloodlands: A Century of Polish Artists in Britain (2017); Judy Chicago — A Transatlantic Narrative and The Inspiration of Decadence: Dodo Burgner 1907-1998 (both 2012). Collaborative exhibitions include Jankel Adler: A "Degenerate" Artist in Britain, 1940-1949 (2019), Bomberg (2017-18), Out of Chaos (2015); ‘Uproar!’: The First 50 Years of The London Group, 1913-1963 (2013); Forced Journeys: Artists in Exile, 1933-45 (2009-10), Whitechapel at War: Isaac Rosenberg and his Circle (2008), Regard and Ritual: Julie Held and Shanti Panchal (2007). She manages the development of Ben Uri’s archives and jointly overseas a CDA PhD candidate at Kingston University, researching émigré art dealers.
Rachel has edited and contributed to many publications in the UK and abroad. Recent publications include '“Our horizon is the barbed wire”: Artistic Life in the British Internment Camps' in Insiders Outsiders: Refugees from Nazi Europe and their Contribution to British Visual Culture (Lund Humphries, 2019) and “The Man from the Bauhaus”: The Lost Career of Werner 'Jacky' Jackson, (Yearbook Vol. 19). A chapter on the portrait of Wilhelm Hollitscher by Hugo Dachinger is forthcoming, to mark the 80th anniversary of internment. As committee member, Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, London University, she was contributing co-editor for Yearbook Vol. 19: The Applied Arts in British Exile from 1933 (Brill, 2019) and is researching Ben Uri and Émigré Musicians for Yearbook Vol. 20.
Rachel has spoken at Tate, NPG, Imperial War Museum, Leeds City Art Gallery, QMU, Senate House (London University), amongst other institutions. Recent papers explored émigré art historians, J P Hodin and Dr Helen Rosenau; and émigré artists, Werner Jackson and Helga Michie. Beyond Ben Uri, she is a partner in Dickson Russell Art Management, providing consultancy services to corporate, institutional and private clients, advising on art collections, changing exhibitions and public commissions.
Jon King: Research officer
Jon King is completing a PhD in History of Art at the University of York. With an interest in early-twentieth century British art, Jon’s prior academic research focuses on the Bloomsbury Group artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and in early 2020 was awarded a Research Fellowship to study their archives at the Yale Center for British Art. He has worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in History of Art at York (2019), been an Associate Editor for the university’s Aspectus: A Journal of Visual Culture (2020-2021) and given various conference and public talks. Before his PhD, he was an intern and youth outreach officer at Site Gallery, Sheffield between 2015 and 2016. Currently, alongside his Research Officer role for the Ben Uri Research Unit, Jon teaches art history privately.
Clare Matthews: Research officer
Clare completed her PhD in the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies at the University of Birmingham in 2021. Her research analysed the reception of classical visual culture in nineteenth-century industrial Britain, focusing on Birmingham. Clare now works in digital collections, and as an independent researcher.
Réka Vajda: Web Development
Réka studied Liberal Arts, Art History and English Culture at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest graduating in 2018 with a First-Class Honours degree. She is currently enrolled at the same University’s Art History Master’s programme, specialising in art after 1800. Her previous experiences include assisting with the Desired Beauty: Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate Collection exhibition (Hungarian National Gallery, 2021), working as a Visitor Services Coordinator at the Hungarian National Gallery and completing an internship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. She held a lecture on the representations of St Elizabeth of Hungary in Victorian art and literature accompanying the aformentioned exhibition in July 2020. She joined Ben Uri as a Collections and Research Officer, a position she held for two and a half years and is now working in IT and Web Development. Her research interests are in late Victorian and 20th century British art, with special focus on the Hungarian immigrant artists’ contribution.
Lynn Blackadder: Management Coach and Interns’ Career Development Mentor
Lynn supports the Ben Uri team in a freelance capacity on management and operational issues. She is also a Career Development Mentor to our interns.
For 25 years, Lynn’s consulting and coaching practice has helped facilitate individual, team and organisational development in a wide variety of environments, working with clients of all types and sizes in the arts, heritage and wider not-for-profit sectors. Her work is informed by years of experience as a hands-on trustee of several charities, and through leading graduate/post-graduate modules in the creative industries.
Lynn’s client portfolio includes: National Trust, Film and Video Umbrella, Imperial War Museum North, National Maritime Museum, Design Museum London, Theatre Absolute, Guild of St George, Canal & River Trust, Samaritans and The Children's Trust.