British Collector David Roberts Picks New Director and Puts His Planned Move to the Countryside on Hold

Curator Fatoş Üstek will ramp up the David Roberts Art Foundation's program in London and beyond as their rural sculpture garden is placed on the back burner.

Fatoş Üstek, Director and Chief Curator, David Roberts Art Foundation (DRAF), London, UK, is named one of Europe's "40 Under 40" by Apollo Magazine. Photo by Josh Meeks-Rayvon Williams.

When the collector David Roberts closed his north London space last fall with a bang—Theaster Gates, Danh Vo, Laure Prouvost and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd were on the bill—he looked set to focus his energies on opening a sculpture garden in the west of England. But the retreat to the English countryside is “on hold,” artnet News has learned. Roberts has hired a dynamic new director whose priorities do not include Somerlea Farm, which is down the road from Hauser & Wirth’s rural outpost in Somerset.  

The energetic curator Fatoş Üstek will succeed Vincent Honoré as director, the David Roberts Art Foundation (DRAF) announced today, March 13. Üstek, who is Turkish-born and London-based, says that the foundation’s next project will be a collaboration with the Mostyn, a contemporary art gallery in north Wales, drawing on the foundation’s collection. In London, DRAF will be exploring 1960s and 70s performance art from Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China in an exhibition organized by the London and Shanghai-based curator Victor Wang.

“This October, I will be curating our 11th evening of performances at KOKO,” Üstek adds, referring to what has become a must-see event during Frieze week. Last year, 1,500 people attended the back-to-back performances commissioned by DRAF at the Camden Town nightspot to celebrate the foundation’s 10th anniversary.    

Hyperactive curating comes second nature to Üstek. Last year she curated Art Night in collaboration with London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery, which featured site-specific commissions and performances across East London by 11 artists, including Jake and Dinos Chapman, Do Ho Suh and Carsten Nicolai. In 2015, she organized 50 projects in 50 weeks at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art for Fig-2. Üstek remains a consultant to its spin-off, Fig-Futures, which aims to speed-up the programming of regional galleries by staging 16 projects in 16 weeks at various venues across the UK.

David, who made his fortune as a property developer, and his partner Indre Roberts, who is a photographer, said in a statement: “Fatoş Üstek will lead DRAF into a new era, building an exciting program to bring the foundation to a wider audience.”


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