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Touchstones are delighted to be named as the Partner Museum for this year’s National Gallery Artist in Residence award. The award is a collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society, generously supported by Anna Yang and Joseph Schull, who will acquire an artwork produced during this year’s Artist in Residence Katrina Palmer that will then be received into Touchstones’ collection.

Over the course of a year, Palmer will immerse herself in the National Gallery’s on-site artist’s studio, strategically positioned in close proximity to the institution’s extensive collection and archives. This immersive experience will culminate in a meticulously crafted publication and a compelling presentation scheduled for autumn 2024, concluding with the highly anticipated acquisition for us here at Touchstones Rochdale.

Palmer’s artistic explorations cover a diverse array of environments, ranging from island quarries to office spaces, prisons, and coastal landscapes. Employing a nuanced methodology that integrates objects, sound, writing, and drawing, Palmer meticulously investigates the potential of sculpture through text and language. Her notable portfolio includes projects delving into profound concepts such as absence and dislocation within historically resonant sites. Responding to the rich and varied collections housed within the National Gallery and Touchstones Rochdale, Palmer is set to embark on her residency in December 2023.

A jury, comprising Sorcha Carey, Director of Collective in Edinburgh; Rosie Cooper, Director of Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridge; Caroline Douglas, Director of the Contemporary Art Society; Sarah Hodgkinson, Senior Curator – Collections and Exhibitions at Touchstones Rochdale; Liz Mytton, Director of Theatre in Flow in Rochdale; Elizabeth Price, distinguished Artist and Professor at the School of Art, Kingston University; and chaired by Daniel F. Herrmann, the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Projects at the National Gallery, London, has praised Palmer’s distinctive approach. The jury particularly commended Palmer’s immersive engagement within sites to develop her projects, citing it as an appealing and promising prospect for both the National Gallery and Touchstones Rochdale.

The Artist in Residence programme extends an invitation to mid-career artists to develop their practice, providing access to Touchstones’ diverse collection. The collaboration with the National Gallery amplifies this opportunity, allowing the artist to respond not only to one of the greatest collections of paintings in the Western European tradition but also to our outstanding collection in the borough of Rochdale. Covering a wide range of subjects, from visual art to archaeology, social history to costume and textiles, this collaboration aims to enrich regional collections. In a move to enhance regional art holdings, the residency facilitates the travel of Palmer’s work to Rochdale, where it will be acquired by the Contemporary Art Society for our permanent collection. This strategic partnership aligns with our commitment to contributing to the cultural wealth of our community.

Palmer now joins the esteemed lineage as the fourth Artist in Residence since the initiation of the Gallery’s cutting-edge Modern and Contemporary Programme. She follows the noteworthy appointments of Rosalind Nashashibi in 2019, Ali Cherri in 2021, and Céline Condorelli in 2022. This succession underscores the National Gallery’s unwavering commitment to cultivating a dynamic and evolving artistic discourse within the framework of the Modern and Contemporary Programme.

Katrina Palmer says: ‘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, says: ‘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: ‘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 compliments 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.

Find out more on the National Gallery website here.