amela Gerrish Nunn, now an independent scholar and curator, was born in the UK and emigrated in 1989 to New Zealand (Aotearoa) where she still lives and works. She studied at the University of Leicester and University College London. Her first position as an art historian was at Bristol Polytechnic (1976). She left Britain to take up the post of Lecturer in Art History at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ (1989) and worked there until leaving as Professor of Art History and Theory at the end of 2008.
She began to specialise in the history of women artists, for which she has become widely known, during her Masters degree with a dissertation on the French Impressionist Berthe Morisot. Her doctoral topic was the mid-Victorian woman artist, and this thesis was later published by the Women’s Press as Victorian Women Artists (1987). Her first curatorial experience was meanwhile with the nineteenth-century section of the ground-breaking Women’s Art Show (Castle Museum Nottingham, 1982). She continued to promote individual artists from her original research such as Louisa Lady Waterford (1983), Rosa Brett (1984) and Rebecca Solomon (1985, 1988), and her first book, Canvassing (Camden Press, 1986) drew attention to Victorian women artists’ life-writings.
The 1989 publication Women Artists and the Pre-Raphaelite Movement (Virago) combined her expertise with that of biographer Dr Jan Marsh. This led to their pioneering exhibition Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists (Manchester/Birmingham/Southampton, 1997), which has proved very influential in establishing a new cohort of artists now visible and sought-after in sale-room and art gallery alike. Gerrish Nunn has continued to build the profiles of these and other Victorian women artists in her publications, conference papers and curatorial collaborations, gradually extending her field of interest to focus on artists of the last generation of Victorians, notably Frances Hodgkins (1869-1947), Laura Knight (1877-1970), Thea Proctor (1879-1966), Flora Lion (1876-1958) and Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (1872-1945).
Created 16 March 2022