My friend and former colleague Jill Morgan was an early champion of feminist and POC artists including Lubaina Himid, writes Derek Horton
The award of the Turner prize to Lubaina Himid, as well as being a welcome step away from “the wearisome focus on the new” (Comment, Adrian Searle, 6 December), also focuses attention on the unfashionable north of England. One of her earliest supporters was my friend and former colleague Jill Morgan. For a decade from 1981 Jill was curator of Rochdale art gallery. After that we worked together in Leeds when Jill was head of fine art and postgraduate studies in contemporary art at Leeds Metropolitan University. Jill was an early champion of feminist and person of colour artists, including Lubaina, the late Maud Sulter and many others. Jill turned Rochdale art gallery from a staid northern backwater into a force to be reckoned with, known for exhibitions celebrating the oppositional stance of some of the most significant feminist, black and working-class artists of the 80s. Jill's work in Rochdale was an example and an inspiration to many of us who have been dedicated to working as or with artists outside of the metropolis and its institutions, and to helping new generations to do so.
Visiting professor of contemporary art, Birmingham City University School of Art
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