Nicola Kalinsky joined the Barber Institute as its sixth Director in January 2013, having moved from a role as Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland.
Nicola, who moved to Scotland in 1997, played a key role in the critically acclaimed and hugely popular £17.6 million transformation of the Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Responsible for the development of the refurbished galleries’ interpretative information and the delivery of the first 17 exhibitions, she was the museum’s 18th-century art specialist and has been responsible for several major acquisitions.
After reading History and English at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Nicola studied for her MA at London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. She began her curatorial career as Keeper of Dulwich Picture Gallery, where she produced major shows on Charles Lebrun and Thomas Gainsborough. After five years at Dulwich, she joined University College London as Curator of the College Art Collections, where she organised the refurbishment of the Strang Print Room, initiated a public exhibition programme and restored the historic Flaxman plasters to the university.
Alongside her scholarly interests, Nicola is particularly interested in how design and interpretation can be used to increase public enjoyment of fine art collections within traditional gallery spaces.
Contact: Julia Cunningham, PA to the Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Wenley joined the Barber Institute in May 2010 from Glasgow Museums, where he was the Curator of European Art, 1600-1800 and based at the Burrell Collection from 2003 until 2010.
Robert studied History (BA Hons) at Durham University and Gallery Studies (M. Litt.) at the University of St Andrews. This was followed by twelve years in the curatorial section of the Wallace Collection, London. There he specialised in French bronzes of the 16th to 18th centuries, co-founding the international French Bronze Study Group in 2000. His French Bronzes in the Wallace Collection was published in 2002, and he also contributed an essay and entries to the catalogue of the landmark exhibition, Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution (Louvre, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 2008/9). He was Reviews Editor for the Sculpture Journal from 2000 to 2010 and then a member of the Editorial Board until 2015.
His other specialist areas of interest are Dutch and Flemish 17th-century paintings, and the history of collecting, particularly in Britain, and he has published several articles on these subjects in academic journals. Robert is Chair of Birmingham’s Public Picture Gallery Fund (founded 1871) and a member of the National Gallery, London’s Advisory Committee for Research on European Paintings.
Here at the Barber, Robert has curated numerous exhibitions and displays, including Carved, Cast and Modelled: Sculpture from the Barber Collection (2011), Portrait of a Lady: The Life and Passions of Lady Barber (2012/13), Close to the Heart: 17th to 19th-century Portrait Miniatures from UK Private Collections(2013), Flinck in Focus (2015/16), Chance, Order, Change: Abstract Paintings 1939-89 (2016) and Pride and Persecution: Jan Steen’s Old Testament Scenes (2017/18).
Andrew Kirkman came to Birmingham in 2012 as Professor of Music and Head of the Department of Music. On Colin Timms’s retirement the following year he assumed the role of Peyton and Barber Professor and hence, in the words of the Trust Deed, of supervision and control of the Concert Hall.
Andrew studied at the universities of Durham, London (King’s College) and Princeton, and has worked at the universities of Manchester, Bangor, Oxford and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. At Rutgers he directed the University Collegium Musicum, a Renaissance chamber choir, and Musica Raritana, a period-instrument orchestra providing postgraduate students with learning and performance opportunities in baroque and classical performance styles, coached by major players in the field. Recordings by the ensembles are available on the DTR, Centaur and Affetto labels.
He has continued that work at Birmingham as director of the Collective for Early Music Performance and Research (CEMPR), which provides students with opportunities for early music performance and study, coached by professionals in the field, and in directing small Renaissance vocal ensembles and annual projects by the Baroque-Classical Orchestra.
Andrew’s scholarly work features in numerous monographs, edited volumes and articles published by Cambridge and Oxford University presses, among others, and in the major journals in the field. It is closely entwined with his work as a performer, chiefly with The Binchois Consort, a small professional Renaissance vocal ensemble which he founded in 1995. Programmes by the Consort focus on music’s role in specific historical and cultural contexts, including the Court of Savoy, the Hundred Years’ War, and a series of projects juxtaposing late-medieval English music and alabaster. Programmes presented at the Barber have addressed the Barber’s own magnificent alabaster panel of the Coronation of the Virgin and, most recently, in conjunction with the Jan de Beer exhibition, music from early sixteenth-century Antwerp.
The Consort has performed widely in Europe and the United States, and its thirteen recordings to date, all on the Hyperion label, have received universally strong critical approbation and many music industry prizes, including Gramophone’s ‘Early Music Recording of the Year’ and ‘Recording of the Month’. Andrew has also been active as a freelance violinist, and, with pianist Clipper Erickson, in 2013 released on the Affetto label (distributed by Naxos) a recording of world premiere performances of violin sonatas by Cyril Scott.
Jo Sweet is Head of University Music and Concerts at the University of Birmingham, a strategic role encompassing performance and concert activity at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, in the Department of Music, and for the University’s music-making body, University Music.
Responsible for the development and planning of concert, festival and resident ensemble activity, overseeing both professional and student-based projects, she enjoys a varied work life – including the role of Executive Producer for Barber Opera productions. Jo’s expertise has led her to teach Arts Management as part of the Department of Music degree course, being invited to work with the CBSO as a guest speaker for education projects, and work on a freelance basis with a variety of performing artists and ensembles as a producer and stage manager.
In addition to her role at the University she enjoys a diverse career as a freelance musician, having performed with groups including the English Symphony Orchestra, BCMG, Orchestra of the Swan, various big bands, and with her brass ensemble, Sennet Brass. Recording credits include Paul Dunmall’s album Maha Samadhi, and Worcester Cathedral’s Christmas from Worcester.