Esen Kaya is the Gallery Curator at the Aga Khan Centre. She is also an educator and visual artist working across drawing, painting, installation, craft and sculpture. Esen has worked in museums and galleries across the UK including Newlyn Art Gallery, National Glass Centre and The Customs House Arts Centre. She has curated over 130 exhibitions of work by regional, national and international artists, which include projects with James Turrell, Antony Gormley and Tanya Kovats. She is passionate about community-focused creative arts projects that enable people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to access and engage with the arts and culture.
In 2014, Esen founded DRAWING - a programme of exhibitions and events exploring the role and importance of drawing, in life, work and the everyday. Working in partnership with North East Universities, she gained three rounds of Arts Council England funding to develop DRAWING, curating a multi-partnership programme with over 35 organisations across the North East. DRAWING has engaged over 100,000 audiences through live exhibitions, events, creative learning opportunities and online activity. In 2017, Esen was awarded an Honorary Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of Sunderland for 3 years, and she is continuing to develop DRAWING.
In 2009, Esen curated the exemplary Casting Off…A Coat For A Boat community project and exhibition, which toured five exhibition centres around the UK including the celebratory exhibition at London Olympia for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee in 2012. She was the Lead Curator for Arts Council England and funded national touring project, Follow The Herring in 2013. In this project, she worked with 13 arts and cultural venues along the East Coast of England and Scotland including Turner Contemporary where she curated an exhibition.
Esen's fine art practice explores themes around hybridity, migration and stories around her cultural heritage. She is inspired by the poetics of language, space, objects and the romantic synergy between Eastern and Western cultures. Drawing and craft play an important role, including embroidery. Esen has exhibited her work in various group exhibitions both in the UK and Japan. She is currently working towards a solo exhibition in 2021.