Future Collect: Handle with Care

A hybrid live and digital event hosted at Manchester Art Gallery.

Handle with Care will reflect on the groundbreaking partnership commission undertaken by iniva and Manchester Art Gallery as part of iniva’s legacy project Future Collect.

Future Collect is a dynamic programme of contemporary art commissions designed to transform the national conversation around contemporary art collecting.

Taking inspiration and guidance from inaugural Future Collect artist Jade Montserrat, the Handle with Care conference will be an interdisciplinary ‘fairground of ideas’ exploring manifestations of care in artistic, curatorial and collecting practices.

The conference will revisit the urgent call made by Professor Stuart Hall, founding chair of iniva, in his keynote speech at the national conference, Whose Heritage? The Impact of Cultural Diversity on Britain’s Living Heritage, held in Manchester in November 1999. Professor Hall called for a re-imagined Britain, reinvented for all who refuse to become othered in order to belong. Handle with Care will suggest that this call to action remains as relevant and urgent when thinking about our national collections within visual arts museums and galleries today.

In format Handle with Care will reimagine what a conference offers us as a site for collaboration, connection and dialogue. Through a series of themed round table discussions inspired by Lois Weaver’s ‘Long Table’ performance, we hope to create a space where all those attending the conference can take a seat at the table and be a part of the conversation.

The conference will include three roundtable discussions based around the following questions and themes:

Creative Critique as Care: How can artists embed institutional critique in creative practice?
A conversation initiated by Jade Montserrat (artist), Jack Ky Tan (artist) & Paul Hughes (artist)

Tenderness and Decolonial Repair: How can we embed care in our work with archives and collections? How can artists help collections heal?
A conversation initiated by Tobias Barnett (researcher) & Holly Graham (artist).

Care is a Collective Responsibility: Talking through access to cultural spaces, care for carers, and civic responsibility.
A conversation initiated by The WAAS (artist collective), Agency of Visible Womxn (artist collective) & others 

The day will also include a performance by Paul Hughes and a workshop (TBC). The final programme will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

We look forward to welcoming you to the conversation! 

Light refreshments in the morning, and lunch will be provided for those attending the in-person conference. 

Book your tickets to attend in-person or online

Some of our contributors will be joining us digitally and all of the roundtable discussions will be available online through a livestream/webinar (with captions).
Please book a ‘digital’ ticket on Eventbrite if you would like to join the digital conference.

We will have a BSL interpreter on-site for the conference as well as organised childcare. If you need childcare, please make sure to fill this in on the Eventbrite booking form.  Manchester Art Gallery is physical access friendly, more details on this here.  


We appreciate that for many artists, students and practitioners not attached to arts organisations with training budgets, fees associated to attending events can be prohibitive. We will have a limited number of bursaries available for those who need additional support to be able to participate in the conference. Please get in touch with Anahí at [email protected] if you have any questions or would like to access this support!

You can read more about Manchester Art Gallery’s COVID regulations here.

For this event, we will be asking people to take and register a negative lateral flow test before arrival. This is so we can ensure the safety of everyone involved to the best of our abilities.

We will also be asking all participants to wear a face mask (unless medically exempt). Thank you for helping us keep everyone safe!

Disclaimer: Due to the changing COVID-19 situation and regulations in the UK, there is a possibility that we may have to arrange for this to be a fully digital event. If you have booked a ticket we will inform you of any changes via email.

Image credits: Collected, collective, communal, cultural object through ritual, Jade Montserrat, 2021. Courtesy of the Artist. The Long Table on Live Art and Feminism with Lois Weaver, 2013. Live Art Development Agency, Restock, Rethink, Reflect Three: on Live Art and Feminism. Image: Alex Eisenberg.

Contributor bios:

Agency of Visible Womxn 

Holly Graham is a London-based artist, working predominantly with print and audio. Much of her work looks at ways in which memory and narrative shape collective histories. Holly holds a BFA from Oxford University and an MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art. Recent solo projects include commissions with TACO!, London (2021); Robert Young Antiques, London (2021); Gaada, Shetland (2020); Goldsmiths CCA, Online (2020); and Southwark Park Galleries, London (2020). Holly is a Visiting Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London; is Co-Director and Programme & Artist Development Lead at Turf Projects, Croydon; and is Co-Founder of Cypher BILLBOARD, London.

Jack Ky Tan uses law, policy, social norms and customs as a medium of making art. He creates performances, sculpture and participatory projects that highlight the rules that guide human behaviour. In Jack’s social practice, he blurs the boundaries between art, governance and consultancy in order to help organisations reform and revision themselves using artistic thinking.

Jade Montserrat’s research-led practice excavates shared histories, alongside delving into her personal narrative. Jade interrogates multiple mediums with the aim to expose gaps in our visual and linguistic habits. She was the recipient of the Stuart Hall Foundation Scholarship, supporting her PhD (via MPhil) at the Institute for Black Atlantic Research at the University of Central Lancaster, (Race and Representation in Northern Britain in the context of the Black Atlantic: A Creative Practice Project) and the development of her work from her Black diasporic perspective in the North of England. In 2020, iniva and Manchester Art Gallery commissioned Jade as the first artist for the project Future Collect.

Paul Hughes is an artist and dramaturg living in Nottingham, mostly working in collaboration with Rohanne Udall as Chatting Tanum. Paul’s PhD research at the University of Roehampton and Sadler’s Wells Theatre explores artist-institutional relations, with a particular focus on temporary curatorial or governance roles. Their current fascinations include: cruising, demons, ghosts, intimacy, moral rhetorics, note-taking, and wounds.

The Women’s Art Activation System (WAAS) is an artist collective that aims to activate women’s art. Principal artists Sharon Bennett and Sarah Dixon collaborate to make live art, performance and socially engaged works. The WAAS makes artworks that question established structures that inhibit and marginalise people, particularly female-identified people and those experiencing pregnancy, childbirth and mothering.  Working with humour to address serious issues The WAAS makes rituals and processes that enquire into, and shift, widely-established social power dynamics. Sharon and Sarah are representatives for Pregnancy and Mothering on the Disconnected Bodies Arts Advisory Board and are currently working with Axisweb, Social Art Network and Manchester Metropolitan University on a commission called Social Art for Equity Diversity and Inclusion (SAFEDI) funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Tobias Barnett is a writer and researcher based in Cambridge, UK. Working at the intersection of Francophone visual cultures, politics, and contemporary philosophy and critical theory, Tobias is particularly interested in the role played by images and material cultures in the mediation of colonial and postcolonial dynamics

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