I am a Newcastle-upon-Tyne-born, Lagos-raised, Uvwie Independent Curator, Art Critic and occasional Florist who regularly moves between West Africa and the UK.
My interest in global modern and contemporary art is cross-disciplinary although this understanding is filtered through the lens of performance art. 

I hold a doctorate in Curating Art and Science: New Methods and Sites of Production and Display from a partnership between Royal Holloway, the University of London and  Arts Catalyst funded by the Arts Humanities Research Council (AHRC); an MA in Curating Contemporary Art (Inspire) from Royal College of Art, London funded by Arts Council England (ACE); and a BA (Hons) in Material Culture, Architecture and Museum Studies from University of Leeds. I am the inaugural recipient of the Early Career Fellowship from Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

My most recent curated exhibitions were held in Dakar, Senegal with Aissa Dione of Galerie Atiss Dakar and Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock Senegal. Visit my work page for my most recent projects and writing.

In 2023, I curated a two-part micro survey of contemporary painting titled PUBLIC PRIVATE at Pond Society, Shanghai (10 June–20 July and 29 July–7 September 2023) showcasing twelve contemporary painter Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Hayley Barker, Dominic Chambers, Hyegyeong Choi, Anthony Cudahy, Ulala Imai, Sarah Lee, Jonny Negron, GaHee Park, Sarah Slappey, Caroline Walker and Michaela Yearwood-Dan. PUBLIC PRIVATE was a top exhibition pick for June 2023 by ArtReview and featured in Art Basel Stories.

In 2022, I curated Body Vessel Clay: Black Women, Ceramics and Contemporary Art an exhibition surveying how ceramics has been disrupted, questioned and reimagined by Black women over the last seventy years beginning with seminal Nigerian potter, Ladi Kwali. Over 100 recent and new artworks by an intergeneration of 17 modern and contemporary artists working with ceramics/clay including Ladi Kwali, Halima Audu, Asibe Ido, Magdalene Odundo, Bisila Noha, Phoebe Collings-James, Shawanda Corbett, Vivian Chinasa Ezhuga, Jade Montserrat and Julia Phillips featured in the exhibition. The critically acclaimed exhibition was on view at Two Temple Place, London (29 January – 24 April 2022) and toured to York Art Gallery (24 June – 18 September 2022). It was reviewed and featured in publications including The Financial Times, Wallpaper*, The Guardian, BBC Pidgin, The Black British List, Cultured, The White Pube, The Sunday Times Culture Show, The Art Newspaper, Time Out London, Africanah.org, Burlington Contemporary, Yorkshire Reporter, Studio International, The Voice, Ceramic Review, The Design Edit, Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art, The Journal of Modern Craft and Evening Standard.

That same year, I was also Deputy Director of Deptford X, London’s longest-running visual arts festival. I played a key role in maintaining the organisation’s strategic direction reporting to the Director and Board alongside overseeing all aspects of the organisation’s operations, financial, HR, and artistic programmes. I curated and delivered the 10-day festival overseeing eight new artists’ commissions by Ibiye Camp, collaborative duo Assia Ghendir and Puer Deorum, Nnena Kalu, Barbara Majek, Yeu-Lai Mo and Johanna Tagada Hoffbeck. The festival concluded with a community-led parade through Deptford High Street by renowned  Nigerian performance and visual artist, Jelili Atiku and young people from the Borough of Lewisham exploring themes of ecology, migration, trade and local markets. Additionally, Deptford X Live introduced live music to the festival with Shakedown (Gin, Black Obsidian Sound System and Ash Walker) and Nzinga Soundz, DJ Aisha from Brazil and hosted by MC Mad X.

Previous curatorial and editorial roles include Camden Art Centre (2021), MVRDV (2016-2018), Arts Catalyst (2013-2016), Etemad Gallery, Dubai (2011-2012) and MIMA Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (2009-2011).

I travelled across West Africa in 2019 to Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Benin, Ivory Coast and Togo to major cities and off-the-beaten-track on an explorative 3-month research trip funded by Arts Council England where I researched activist-led, community-centred performance art. My research has been supported by awards and funding from Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Arts Council England, Decorative Art Society, The Art Fund, Paul Mellon for Studies in British Art, The British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust.

I began writing about contemporary art on a personal blog called Artistes Only between 2008-2012 leading in some ways to developing as an ‘accidental’ art critic. My writing has been featured in international publications (online and in print) including Artsy, Art Basel stories, The Art Newspaper, DOMUS, PIN-UP Magazine, It’s Nice That, FT HTSI, Wallpaper*, Disegno Journal, Ocula Magazine, Bomb Magazine, World of Interiors, Apartmento, Bonhams Magazine, Boy.Brother.Friend, CNN Style, Frieze, Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art, SLEEK Mag, Leonardo Journal, X-TRA, Primary Paper, The Culture Trip, Hyperallergic, Metropolis M, ARTNews, Burlington Contemporary, Cultured, The Fashion and Race Database, Crafts Magazine and WePresent.

I have written exhibition catalogues and critical texts for Rosana PaulinoDonald Rodney, Theaster Gates, Ndidi Dike, Phoebe Collings-JamesAdelaide Cioni, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Martin O’Brien, Sasha Huber, Shawanda Corbett, The FLAG Art Foundation, Delfina Foundation, Hayward Gallery, , Visual AIDS, and Maxmillian Williams Gallery/Apartmento Magazine.

Additionally, I have given interviews, talks and keynotes at institutions and platforms including Xavier Hufkens, NYU Abu Dhabi, Black Curatorial, Slade School of Fine Art, Liverpool Biennial, Decoding Ceramics SymposiumShade Shorts podcast, IKON Gallery Birmingham, Whitechapel Gallery/Jarman Awards 2022, Live Art Development Agency (LADA), Association for Art History, Art Basel Hong Kong, Camden Art Centre, Chelsea College of Arts, Swansea Metropolitan University, Waag Society, CoCA: Women and Clay: Gendered Form, The Centre for Curatorial Studies (CCS) Bard, VO Curations, The Africa Centre, The University of Arizona, The Leach Pottery and Royal College of Art.

I am on the advisory committee for the Contemporary Art Society.

For future collaborations, curatorial projects, art advisory, speaking engagements and writing commissions drop me a line via my contact page.

Image: Malick Welli