UK artist Joy Gregory, born of Jamaican parents, and the Whitechapel Gallery are recipients of the 2023 Freelands Award. The award recognizes Gregory's “…unconventional approach and dedication to telling overlooked stories, bridging communities, and offering diverse perspectives on the world.”
She has exhibited worldwide in various festivals and biennales, and her work can be found in esteemed collections such as the UK Arts Council Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia, and Yale British Art Collection. Gregory’s art looks at how colonialism impacted global perceptions of beauty, memory, botany, health, and traditional knowledge.
Established in 2016, the annual Freelands Award was initially to enable a UK arts organisation to present an exhibition by a mid-career woman artist who may not yet have received the acclaim or public recognition. In 2022, the Freelands Foundation opened the award to visual arts organisations, to propose an exhibition for their 2023-25 programme. Gregory will receive £30,000 of the award value of £110,000, with the remainder going to Whitechapel for the exhibition.
The jury for this year’s Award included Elisabeth Murdoch (Founder and Chair, Freelands Foundation), writer Olivia Laing, curator Elinor Morgan (Artistic Director, MIMA) and artist Ingrid Pollard (winner of the Freelands Award 2020).
The Whitechapel Gallery retrospective will feature nearly 100 works in various media – digital photography, video, film installation, performance, Victorian print processes and textiles. It will highlight Gregory’s significant contributions to the development of photography in the UK, and her exploration of cultural politics, identity, race, and gender since the 1980s. During the exhibition, Gregory plans to collaborate with young people from Tower Hamlets in creative workshops and curate a public program exploring the evolution of photography in London.
Gregory is a graduate of Manchester Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art.
Photo courtesy: Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter