Future Collect: Jade Montserrat

Future Collect is a three-year programme which partners with national and regional museums and galleries to commission artists of African and/or Asian descent, British born or based. Crucially these commissions give an opportunity for an artist to be collected and exhibited by a major British institution – as well as contributing to a wider public debate on collections and whose heritage is being preserved. The project is funded by Art Fund and Arts Council England.

Jade Montserrat is an artist based in the North of England whose research-led work explores the interplay of art and activism through performance, drawing, painting, film, installation, sculpture, print and text. Her Future Collect commission will go on display at the gallery in autumn 2020, and will investigate the existing collection to open up conversation with other practitioners.

Jade Montserrat Shadowing/Revue: Ecclesiastes v, 2017

A public education programme will run alongside the exhibited commission, including conversations, study days, workshops and a major conference. The conference will revisit the urgent call that Professor Stuart Hall, founding chair of Iniva, made in his keynote speech at a national conference, Whose Heritage? The Impact of Cultural Diversity on Britain’s Living, held in Manchester in November 1999. Hall called for a re-imagined Britain, reinvented for all who refuse to become ‘other’ in order to belong, and the Future Collect conference will ask whether these questions are still relevant to raise when thinking about today’s museums.

As well as events for the general public, the inaugural Future Collect will also feature a number of professional network opportunities for curators and artists, organised by Future Collect Project Manager, Rohini Malik Okon and Curatorial Trainee Nikita Gill.

We are delighted to announce Jade Montserrat as the first artist to be chosen for Future Collect. Commissioning artists is rare and yet such a vital part of the livelihood for artists. This commission creates the space for artists to engage with the collection but also to bring the public along with them and create a meaningful context to engage with the commission and to create new relations with the collections. We are extremely grateful for the support from the Art Fund and Arts Council England to make this project possible as well as our first partnering museum, Manchester Art Gallery.

Sepake Angiama, Artistic Director of Iniva

Prompted by the readings of Ira Aldridge’s African American diasporic career and life, the polyphonic work I have proposed for Future Collect reflects an emphasis on care: Care for the collection and care for the art and artists, encouraging collective intergenerational transnational solidarities. I am excited for the opportunity to develop my practice, and this extraordinary commission promises a year of learning and, wonderfully, making art and exploring the collections.

Jade Monserrat

All of us at Manchester Art Gallery are so happy to be working with Iniva and Jade Montserrat for the first Future Collect project. The Gallery has been at the heart of the development of the city from its beginnings in the early 19th century and our collections have always reflected the complexities of Manchester’s involvement in industrialisation, modernisation, colonialism and capital. At the same time our story is also one of people striving for equity and human rights locally and globally, through diplomacy and protest alike. It is with this history in mind that we want to continue to interrogate our inherited culture with artists, and to propose positive action for the future. Of late, the Gallery has forged a new vision as an ‘art school for everybody’ and a ‘civic think tank’, with artists and residents playing an active role in shaping a new kind of museum. Jade is an artist who belongs in this story, deeply rooted in the north of England context yet equipped to come up with surprising challenges that will shake things up in a generative way. We cannot wait to see what she will contribute to the city’s collection and voice.

Alistair Hudson, Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery