Curator Spotlight.

Joséphine-May Bailey

The first time we met Joséphine was over a zoom call, during the height of the pandemic. She was working alongside Verity Babbs to host The Aurelia Arts Festival. The pair were due to be guests on the Podcast, discussing their upcoming curatorial project that sought to support women artists at all stages of their careers. This support for female artists has always been part of Joséphine’s vision, and ahead of another all female exhibition titled, ‘Domesticity and the Feminine’ we caught up and discussed all that she has been doing over the past year.

Josephine May Bailey


What are you doing at the moment?

I am a Curator, arts writer and Art Historian, I spend four days a week working as a curator at Liliya, where I programme the exhibitions, press releases and the general running of the gallery.

Two days a week I am working towards my MFA in Curating at Goldsmiths, where I do much the same as I do with Liliya, programming exhibitions and speaking to artists, working on my writing, it is quite busy, but a great experience for sure.

I also do a number of freelance things. This varies from arts writing for galleries, different online platforms, and for artists. For example, I recently helped with a curatorial statement for an artist who wasn’t sure how to discuss their own work.

My role as an Art Historian stems from my time studying History of Art at Oxford. It is still an interest and heavily influences my current work. I occasionally get invited to do art historical talks; I actually have one coming up later in the year.

 As if there wasn’t enough going on, I am also working one day a week at The Barbican, which is brilliant. I am working with Eleanor Nairne, she is a female curator extraordinaire.

How do you cope with doing so much?

I think I try to keep things as separate as I can. I Just compartmentalise it all, initially Liliya took over but now I have worked out how to make things more manageable and manage my time.

For things like Uni, It is an MFA so partly practical and partly theory based, so I have a lot of freedom to do my own research and work so it’s not too demanding.

Regarding the Barbican, this is a very recent development and is only one day a week.

With the freelance stuff, it is so varied, but I always make sure it fits into my life, if I don’t have time then I won’t take it on. People understand that if you are trying to do lots, there is lots to do and are pretty understanding

Liliya Art Gallery, Putney.


What has been your favourite project to date?

My current project is one of my favourites, I have been lucky enough to be approached by an artist and curator called Karen Tronel, she is amazing. I am working alongside my great friend Anna Woodward to curate two shows over summer at Chelsea and Kensington art week at Acava studios in their Maxilla walk space. Its titled, ‘In Reverie’ and will come in two parts, the whole exhibition will be on from the 25-27th June.

Part 1 will be a group show, raising money for Grenfell.  The studio itself is 5 minutes from Grenfell, and the impacts of the tragedy are still keenly felt, there are lots of moving murals and testimonials in the area. It is a real community there, but support is definitely still needed.

Part 2 is going be a two person exhibition featuring Maciek Kosc and Georgia Dymock. Its an exciting prospect to do a project that will make a difference and do something that will positively affect the community around it.

I am also really enjoying the open call, it has allowed to me discover loads of brilliant artists who weren’t previously on my radar. 

How have you found the art community over the past year?

It is very small, with everyone flooding to Instagram, the rise of online shows etc, it’s never been easier to work together, communicate and help each other.

There are more and more people my age doing similar things in the industry so it has been great to connect with them and share ideas.

There is a lot of support out there for artists, which is so important. I wouldn’t have a job without artists. I really do feel that putting artists at the centre of the art world is super important.

Is fate free from divine intervention, Anna Woodward
Anna Woodward
Hot and Soapy, Cecilia Reeve
Cecilia Reeve

What is the biggest misconception about working in galleries?

That everyone is a man, 

I recently got a bunch of emails titled. ‘Sir’…It isn’t difficult, do some research into the place you are emailing, and you will quickly find who works there, it doesn’t come off great when people get that wrong. We do not even have a male curator at Liliya. People often assume receptionists are women, and the rest are men.

People are often shocked when I tell them i am the curator, it might be my age, but I think sex plays a part in it too.

The other thing is that people think galleries are snooty, but in reality, so many are not. Loads of smaller galleries in London are keen to engage and be part of the conversation. We would much prefer it if you engaged and wanted to talk about the work, so I guess there is the misconception that everyone is scary and horrible…but we aren’t!


So, I see you are working with Raphaela and doing an open call.

Yes, she is a brilliant ceramicist and curator. She is having a solo show called ‘Universal Yearnings’. It is a showstopper exhibition rooted in the solar system, myth, and femininity.

Each ceramic has an identity and tells a story about where women who have been ignored and cut out. There are several beautiful paintings too, all relating to the artists experiences as a woman.

She has a lot of Spanish heritage, so we are having a Spanish guitarist and singer at the opening, it’s going to be a lot of fun.  It has been a total joy to work with her on an exhibition that is so unique and interesting.


The open call will be announced on the 20th and will all go live after that.

It is titled Domesticity and the Feminine. I am curating this show to expand my knowledge and representation of female artists, it is something I am incredibly passionate about. I am so excited to release this selection.

The title very pertinent to right now. Issues with women and the home have been exacerbated, but the roles in the home have almost become ungendered, with all people having to engage in the domestic. It is going to be interesting to see people engage with the feminine too, and how they relate it to themselves, despite how they might identify.

See Liliya Art Gallery here, and Joséphine’s independent curatorial work here

Marcelina Amelia "Figure with a cabbage breasts" / 2021, 90 x 70 cm, Acrylic on canvas
Marcelina Amelia
Jessie Stevenson

Images courtesy of Joséphine-May Bailey and Liliya Art Galley.

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