Former Serpentine Director Julia Peyton-Jones Becomes a Mother at Age 64

She left the institution in July after 25 years.

Julia Peyton-Jones. Photo Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Surface Magazine.
Julia Peyton-Jones. Photo Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Surface Magazine.

Julia Peyton-Jones, who was director of the renowned Serpentine Gallery in London for over 25 years, has become a mother for the first time at age 64.

When she announced in October 2015 that she would be stepping down from the role in July 2016, Peyton-Jones said that, from then on, she would work independently in contemporary art and architecture, as well as travel, and perhaps even return to art making, which she gave up three decades ago to become a curator and one of the most successful institutional directors in the art world.

But it seems that motherhood was the project she had in mind, a desire she had already discussed with close friends in recent times, according to the Guardian.

A spokesman for Peyton-Jones confirmed the news, according to the Telegraph, but said she would not be sharing further details. Peyton-Jones is reportedly living on the West Coast of America at the moment, but is expected to return to the UK to raise her child.

Yesterday, Sara May, who worked as personal assistant to Peyton-Jones at the Serpentine from 2015 until her departure, posted a couple of tweets congratulating her former boss on the news: “Congratulations to Julia Peyton-Jones, my former boss and one of the most inspirational women I’ve had the pleasure of learning from. Baby Pia will learn so much from her and I am sure will follow in her footsteps as a trailblazing woman and icon.”

Meanwhile, in a report published yesterday by the Evening Standard, Robin Saunders, a financier from Texas and a close friend of Peyton-Jones, was quoted as saying: “This is the most exciting news! Julia will be a wonderful mother and role model for her daughter. I wish her happiness with Pia.”

Peyton-Jones joined the Serpentine Gallery in 1991, turning it into a huge success in terms of visitor numbers and critical recognition within the first five years of her long tenure.

In 2000, she launched the annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commission, for which top international architects—an illustrious roster that has included Zaha Hadid, Peter Zumthor, SANAA, Frank Gehry, and Herzog & de Meuron with Ai Weiwei—create a temporary structure to host events during the summer.

In 2006, Peyton-Jones was joined by Hans Ulrich-Obrist at the helm of the Serpentine, and spearheaded the opening of the Serpentine Sackler, designed by Hadid, in 2013.

Exhibitions held at the Serpentine Galleries during Peyton-Jones’ directorship include those by Marina Abramović, Hilma af Klint, Rachel Rose, Etel Adnan, Julio Le Parc, Ed Atkins, and Trisha Donnelly.


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