Once Northampton lecturer Maria Balshaw is an excellent fit for the Tate job - says former student

Maria Balshaw is set to take over as director of Tate, but many have fond memories of the curator from her time as a lecturer in Northampton.
Maria Balshaw is set to take over as director of Tate, but many have fond memories of the curator from her time as a lecturer in Northampton.

An art director who spent some of her younger years in Northampton and taught at the town's university is tipped to take one of the biggest curator jobs in the world - as director of the Tate galleries.

Maria Balshaw was a pupil at Lings Upper School during her younger years and later went on to be a lecturer in cultural studies at the University of Northampton in 1993.

Dr Nathan Wiseman-Trowse says his former Lecturer Mrs Balshaw will make an excellent Tate director.

Dr Nathan Wiseman-Trowse says his former Lecturer Mrs Balshaw will make an excellent Tate director.

The 46-year-old has now been tipped to take over from Sir Nicholas Serota as director of Tate, though she has yet to be officially named in the post.

She is currently director of Manchester's Whitworth Gallery, where its website says she has overseen “a challenging programme of historic, modern and contemporary exhibitions that capitalise on the Whitworth’s university location."

One of Mrs Balshaw's first students at Northampton, was so inspired by her teaching, he went on to become a lecturer himself.

Dr Nathan Wiseman-Trowse, now an associate professor in popular music at the University of Northampton, believes she will bring "an incredible energy and sense of vision to the Tate."

He said: "I must have been one of Maria's first students at what was then Nene College in 1993, studying a third year media module.

"Ten years later I was running an entire course based on that module, and it was from Maria's exciting, relevant and inclusive teaching style that I found a way to engage with my own students.

"Since those days Maria has done amazing work at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester and really carved herself a position as one of the most important movers and shakers in British arts.

"I look forward to seeing where she takes the organisation.”

Under her leadership, the Whitworth won the 2015 museum of the year prize and Mrs Balshaw also helped set up The Factory, a £110 million arts venue on the site of Granada’s former TV studios.

Mrs Balshaw is yet to be formally named in the post, but so far the UK media has reacted positively to her Tate-director-elect status.

The Telegraph described her as a "feisty, plain-speaking Brummie, a mother of two with a love of glittery gold boots," who it says would be an "inspired choice" for the role.

Mrs Balshaw has several books and is a board member of the charity set up to run Rothesay Pavilion after its refurbishment.

In 2011 she was appointed director of Manchester City Galleries alongside her role at the Whitworth.

Tate is a family of four art galleries in London, Liverpool and Cornwall known as Tate Modern, TateBritain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.