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Alumni Stories


Alumni Stories


Those who are challenging the status quo through art – politically, socially and economically.

Portrait of Jeremy Deller sipping a milkshake

Jeremy Deller (BA 1988), Artist

“Art isn’t about what you make but what you make happen”

Jeremy Deller is an English conceptual, video and installation artist who graduated with a BA from The Courtauld in 1988. Jeremy was awarded the Turner Prize in 2004 and the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts in 2010. Much of his work is collaborative, with a strong political aspect. For example, in 2001 he famously brought together almost 1,000 people to stage an entire re-enactment of The Battle of Orgreave – a violent confrontation that resulted from the 1984 Miners’ Strike. Most recently, Jeremy was commissioned by the Jewish Museum in London to create a short film showing anti-Semitic footage in contemporary politics and the media, as part of the museum’s special exhibition Jews, Money, Myth.

Beth Greenacre (BA 1997), Curator & Art Advisor

“I champion gender balance in the arts”

Beth Greenacre is a leading force in the British contemporary art world. A curator and art consultant specialising in Modern British and International Contemporary art, early in her career she worked as David Bowie’s art consultant. Bowie’s collection included works by Frank Auerbach, Peter Lanyon and Graham Sutherland. Together with Bowie she curated several exhibitions and also launched and directed Bowie Art, a ground-breaking online platform for supporting young artists and promoting their careers. In 2005 Beth established an independent gallery, ROKEBY, with the same aims. She is currently curator for The Allbright, an association and female members club which creates opportunities for women to thrive in business.

Nadim Samman (PhD 2011), Co-Founder & Curator, 1st Antarctic Biennale

“The Courtauld taught me to constantly re-imagine art’s rules and consequences”

Nadim Samman is a curator and art historian based in Berlin. He read Philosophy at University College London before receiving his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2011. He co-founded the 1st Antarctic Biennale (2017) and the Antarctic Pavilion (Venice, 2015-). In 2016 he curated the 5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, and the 4th Marrakech Biennale in 2012.

One major art project curated by Nadim, entitled Treasure of Lima: A Buried Exhibition, was a site-specific exhibition that involved artworks by 40 artists placed inside a treasure chest and buried it in a secret location on Cocos Island in the Pacific Ocean.

In 2014, Foreign Policy Magazine named Nadim among the “100 Leading Global Thinkers.”

portrait photograph of Sorrell Hershberg

Sorrell Hershberg (MA 1993), Executive Director, Create London

“The Courtauld gave me the tools to ask difficult questions and prepared me for challenging privilege in the arts”

Sorrel Hershberg is the Executive Director at Create London, an arts organisation dedicated to making long-term projects that are useful to society.  Create commissions, curates and produces work that reimagines the role of artists in the city and finds new and often surprising ways for art to become part of daily life.   Projects include the development of a new affordable housing model for artists, a softplay centre and a cinema under a motorway.

Prior to joining Create London, Sorrel led The Sorrell Foundation, a charity which aimed to inspire creativity in young people and improve quality of life through design. She also previously ran the non-profit programmes at Frieze London and worked as a curator at The British Council and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Portrait photograph of Valeria Bembry outdoors

Valeria Bembry (PG Dip 2008), Reporting & Publication Officer, International Organization for Migration, Iraq

“Art history, cultural protection, and creative practice have strong connections to humanitarian action”

Valeria’s work in international development recognises the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development. She worked for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), closely associated with the United Nations, which provides services and advice concerning migration to governments, refugees and migrant workers. Prior to this she was Project Manager at IMPACT Iraq, managing the United Nations development programme Increasing Livelihood through Vocational Training and Job Placement. In this role she oversaw the vocational training and job placement of over a thousand refugees, helping them to develop skills in carpentry, agriculture, hospitality, and business. She organised funding campaigns for Syrian refugees, worked with both the National Peace Corps Association and Peace Action Maine, and co-designed a Women in Action conference around creative responses to women’s rights and gender equality. Valeria’s career has combined international politics, art history and humanitarian work and it has taken her around the world – from Africa to Erbil, Iraq, where she is currently based. She never forgot her art history background, and used her love of art to lead street art workshops with Syrian children in Kurdistan and work as an Art Project Consultant with the RISE foundation, facilitating a safe space for Syrian children to enjoy painting workshops as a form of art therapy.

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