MGM 2008 - A Museum Of Me - Stephen Foster

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Stephen Foster has been Director of the John Hansard Gallery since 1987, and is also currently Chair of the Southampton City Council’s Cultural Consortium, a body responsible for developing the city’s cultural strategy.

A photo of a man in an open necked shirt

Stephen Foster. Courtesy John Hansard Gallery

Is there an object or work of art that has inspired you, encouraged you to work in a different way or given you a great idea?

The work of art that had the greatest effect on me was a performance by Alastair MacLennan at Spacex Gallery, Exeter in 1987, called 'Is Not'.

a photo of an installation with tree like objects in it

© Alastair MacLennan

(Above) Alastair MacLennan, From 'Is Not' a 72 hour non stop performance / installation, Spacex Gallery, Exeter, England, October 21 - 24, 1987.

I had seen many performance works before, but as this was durational (72 hours) and I stayed with it throughout, it had a profound effect on me as to what art can do.

Can you name a person who has inspired you?

Working with the artist Hamad Butt was the best experience of working with an artist.

a photo of a young man in a polo shirt

The late Hamad Butt. Photo courtesy Jamal Butt

He was a young, modest artist who made only one major work after graduating (he died within a few years of graduating), and yet was the closest thing to a genius that I ever met. He was interested in everything, and could make connections between apparently unconnected things in the most intelligent way.

Which ideas or creations in your work are you most proud of? This can be something really significant or quite minor.

I have developed a capacity for joining up apparently unrelated things. Innovations often arise from the simple bringing together of two previously unrelated areas.

A photo of the inside of a gallery.

Interior of John Hansard Gallery. Courtesy John Hansard Gallery

Professionally this obviously includes types of exhibitions, etc, but it also includes things like funding applications or shelving systems.

Can you think of any current innovations (in science, technology, art etc.), which have had an impact on your life?

A photo of an iPod.


The best innovation in recent years is the iPod.

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Tell us what you think. We would like you to use our simple Storymaker editing tool to . We will be selecting some of the most interesting examples and publishing them next to the expert’s views during MGM 2008.

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