Sarah Victoria Turner

Headshot of Sarah Victoria Turner As Director of the Paul Mellon Centre, Sarah oversees all aspects of the Centre's activities, ensuring that it supports the most original, rigorous and stimulating research into the history of British art and architecture, and fosters collaboration with our sister-institution, the Yale Center for British Art. Her aim is to share the work and resources of the Paul Mellon Centre as widely as possible and to open up new conversations, ideas and narratives about the histories of British art.

Sarah’s Directorship builds on her nine years at the Paul Mellon Centre as Assistant Director for Research and then Deputy Director, during which time she oversaw many innovative programmes and collaborative projects with partners in the UK and internationally, including establishing the national art writing competition, Write on Art, with Art UK, and co-writing and co-hosting the Sculpting Lives podcast. She is Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning, open-access journal British Art Studies (since its founding in 2015).

With Hammad Nasar, Senior Research Fellow at the PMC, Sarah co-leads the London, Asia research project. They have co-curated, with Amy Tobin, the exhibition Making New Worlds at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, on the artist Li Yuan-chia and the LYC Museum and Art Gallery he established in Cumbria in the 1970s.

After reading History of Art at Pembroke College, Cambridge, Sarah studied for an MA in Sculpture Studies at the University of Leeds, run in partnership with the Henry Moore Institute, before completing her PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art. As an art historian, she has published widely and co-curated several major exhibitions and much of her writing has focused on the entangled relationships between Britain, the British Empire and South Asia. She has taught at both the University of York and the Courtauld Institute of Art. Sarah serves as advisor on the PHAROS Executive Steering Committee, the Warburg Institute of Art Advisory Group, the British Art Network Steering Committee and the University Advisory Committee for the Yale Center for British Art. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Selected Publications

Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-Chia & Friends, co-edited with Hammad Nasar and Amy Tobin (Cambridge: Kettle's Yard, 2023)

‘Waves of Light’, Rana Begum (London: Lund Humphries, 2021)

'Raising Old Ghosts: Linder’s Conversations with the Dead', Linderism (Cambridge: Kettle’s Yard, 2020), pp. 65-71

‘Painting Portraits, Recording Lives’, Eileen Hogan: Personal Geographies (New Haven and London: Yale Center for British Art/ Yale University Press, 2019), pp. 188–203

Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West, co-edited with James Mansell and Christopher Scheer (Lopen: Fulgur, 2019)

Imagined Cosmopolis: Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870s–1920s, co-edited with Charlotte Ashby, Grace Brockington, and Daniel Laqua (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2019)

The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, co-written with Mark Hallett (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2018)

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1769-2018: A Chronicle (www.chronicle250.com), co-editor and author, published by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

‘Savagery, just beneath the surface: William Crozier’s early work’, William Crozier (Dublin: Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2018), pp. 10–33

‘What is to become of the Crystal Palace?’: The Crystal Palace after 1851, co-edited with Kate Nichols (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017)

‘The Poetics of Permanence: Inscriptions, Poetry and Memorials of the First World War’, Sculpture Journal, 24:1 (2015), DOI: 10.3828/sj.2015.24.1.6

‘“Reuniting What Never Should Have Been Separated”: The Arts and Crafts Movements, Modernism and Sculpture in Britain 1890–1914’, in Martina Droth and Peter Trippi (eds), Change/Continuity: Writing about Art in Britain Before and After 1900, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, 14: 2 (Summer, 2015)

‘Henry Moore and Direct Carving: Technique, Concept, Context’, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity (London: Tate Research, 2015)

‘“A Knot of Violent Living’”: Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s Wrestlers’, in New Rhythms. Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Art, Dance and Movement 1911 (Cambridge: Kettle’s Yard, 2015)

‘William Rothenstein, the ‘Indian Boom’ and the India Society’, in From Bradford to Benares: The Art of Sir William Rothenstein (Bradford: Cartwright Hall, 2015)

‘Victorian Sculpture, International Exhibitions and Empire’, in Martina Droth, Jason Edwards and Michael Hatt (eds), Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention 1837-1901 (Yale Center for British Art/ Yale University Press, 2014), pp. 298–305

Wrestlers (1914) by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. Tate ‘In Focus’ project (2013): http://www.tate.org.uk/art/researchpublications/gaudier-brzeska-wrestlers

‘Crafting Connections: The India Society and inter-imperial artistic networks in Edwardian Britain’, in Susheila Nasta (ed.), India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections, 1858-1950 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 96–114

‘“Alive and significant”: Aspects of Indian Art, Stella Kramrisch and Dora Gordine in South Kensington c. 1940’, Wasafiri: International Contemporary Writing, 27: 2 (2012), pp. 40–51

'Ezra Pound's New Order of Artists: "The New Sculpture" and the critical formation of a sculptural avant-garde in early twentieth-century Britain, Sculpture Journal, 21:2 (2012), pp. 9–21

'Intimacy and Distance: Physicality, Race and Paint in Etty's "The Wrestlers", in Sarah Burnage, Mark Hallett and Laura Turner (eds), William Etty: Art & Controversy (London: Philip Wilson Publishers in association with York Museums Trust, 2011), pp. 75–90

'Sex, Stone and Empire: Direct Carving and "British" Sculpture', in Modern British Sculpture (London: Royal Academy, 2011), pp. 100–105

‘Modernism and the Visual Arts’, in Peter Brooker, Andrzej Gasiorek, Deborah Parsons and Andrew Thacker (eds), Modernisms Handbook (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 540–561

‘The “essential quality of things”: E.B. Havell, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Indian Sculpture in Britain’, Journal of Visual Culture in Britain (Autumn, 2010), pp. 239–264

Gilbert & George: Major Exhibition (London: Tate, 2007), author and editor of bibliography, biography and other endmatter for the Tate catalogue, pp. 198–208