Open Library: What is the Library?

At Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough

2 – 4pm, 30 July 2021


Find out about the Women Artists of the North East Library in this introduction to their 6 month residency, and hear about legacies of women artists within the MIMA Collection from MIMA Assistant Curator, Helen Welford.

At this first event Holly will share personal experiences in Higher Education and how involvement in a student and staff campaign to rename the Ex-Libris gallery in Newcastle, ‘RITA’ sparked the idea for the library. Carried by the question ‘Who is Rita?’ the campaign sought to question the institution and peers; who built this academy, this city, this space for us to think and create. RITA (after artist Rita Donagh b.1939) became a cipher for lesser known histories and figures connected to the Newcastle University Fine Art Department as well as women artists who had taught/studied/created the region’s art spaces and contributed to it’s historic and contemporary scene.

Holly will also introduce one of the first donations to the library ‘Advice to Women in Management’ by Lesley Kerman. Through Philosophy, memories of being an art student and personal experiences as an educator and a woman in arts higher education, Lesley’s writing weaves an expression of the difficulties, doubts, challenges and joys of being an artist working in Higher Education.

The library now supports North East women-identifying artists through its growing collection, on-going research, events and opportunities. In July 2021 the library and MIMA are co-commissioning a North East based artist to work in response to the Library and MIMA collections.

Advice to women in Management (2012) by Lesley Kerman

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Arts (MIMA) is renowned for its civic mission and community engagement. It has changing seasonal exhibitions, collection displays, learning activities and community-focused initiatives involving collaborators locally, nationally and internationally.


Working closely with local and global partners to put art into action and build public participation, MIMA is a cultural and community hub for the Tees Valley and further afield. Ethics of equity, diversity and inclusion is a huge part of their work. MIMA is a Tate Plus Gallery with a steady stream of international and national artists, curators, policy-makers, funders and audiences visiting the gallery each week. MIMA is also part of Teesside University.

MIMA’s Collection includes works by British and International artists, art and craft from the mid-1800s to the present day, post–Second World War British painting, contemporary drawing from the Americas, twentieth-century British ceramics, European contemporary jewellery, and international contemporary installation. It also houses works inherited from the Middlesbrough Art Gallery, the Cleveland Gallery and the Cleveland Craft Centre.

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