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MBE for Harrogate arts curator

Queen's Honours List - Harrogate art curator Jane Sellars.
Queen's Honours List - Harrogate art curator Jane Sellars.

A leading figure in Harrogate's art world said she is thrilled to receive an honour in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Writer, arts historian and curator Jane Sellars BA MA FMA is to receive the MBE for services to the arts and to the community in the North of England.
Jane said: "I am absolutely thrilled to have received this award. It means a huge amount to me.
"I wish my parents had been here to see this, but I know that my beloved son and sisters and all of my friends are thrilled for me and this has given me a lot of happiness.
"I hope that my award and all that it stands for will continue to bring people to Harrogate to enjoy the Mercer Art Gallery, and that it will add to the recognition that arts and culture in Harrogate deserves."


With a CV including art curator at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, director of the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth and principal curator of Harewood House, Jane has enjoyed a stellar career in the art world for nearly four decades.


Appointed curator of art for Harrogate by Harrogate Borough Council in 2003 before rising to become curator of cultural services in 2014 with an overview over the Pump Room Museum.
Blessed with sound instincts and a sense of clear objectives, Jane has been known for her determination to pursue her own artistic agenda at the publically-owned Mercer Gallery run by Harrogate Borough Council
In that, she has been grateful to have been supported.


She said: "I couldn’t have done any of it if I hadn’t had people there who were prepared to take a chance on me.
"At Harrogate I have been famous in the council for spending lots of money, but I need to remind everybody that I went out to raise that money.
"I couldn’t have done the fundraising either without the wonderful support of the Friends of the Mercer Art Gallery who are dynamic fundraisers and they were always ready to put in generous amounts of money towards acquisitions, exhibitions, gallery improvements and publications. Without the Friends the Mercer would not be what it is today."


Renowned for using her considerable knowledge and expertise to create 'blockbuster' shows at the Mercer, Jane identifies two exhibition she is particularly proud of.
Jane said: "My greatest moments I think have been when we put on our first big show, William Powell Frith: Painting the Victorian Age in 2007, and then Atkinson Grimshaw: Painter of Moonlight, 2011 and Art in Yorkshire: From Turner to Hockney in 2014.


"I remember being so excited to walk into the gallery each day and find it packed with people enjoying the art on show."
One of her other priorities has been to shine a spotlight on female artists, especially from Yorkshire.

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She said: "I always hoped that I could have a significant impact on art scholarship, particularly of women artists and of Yorkshire artists, and the ability to raise the profile of the Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate to national recognition."
Jane recently announced her retirement from the Mercer, though she is currently hard at work on three major new exhibitions there in a freelance basis.


She credits her Royal Honour not only to her own efforts but to the gallery's staff and supporters.
Jane said: "It’s great to be honoured in this way but I see it as something that is not just for me, but a tribute to all of the great artists I have worked with over the years, above all at the Mercer in Harrogate.
"It’s also a tribute to wonderful colleagues I have worked with here at the Mercer, at the Walker Art Gallery, the Bronte Parsonage Museum and Harewood House."