Dr Robert Bell AM is Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the National Gallery of Australia, responsible for contributing to policy, collections, exhibitions and research program in Australian and international decorative arts and design, which includes over 12,000 works in contemporary and historical ceramics, glass, textiles, metalwork, jewellery, furniture, industrial design, costume and theatre arts. He curated the Gallery’s major international survey exhibition, Transformations: the language of craft, in 2005 and the exhibition, Ballets Russes: The art of costume in 2010.
He was born in Perth, Western Australia and before moving to Canberra in 2000 was the Senior Exhibition and Graphic Designer at the Western Australian Museum and the Curator of Craft and Design at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, where he curated the exhibition International Directions in Glass Art in 1982 and the Australian International Craft Triennials from 1989 to 1998. He holds a PhD from the Australian National University, titled ‘Nordic Wave: A study of the reception and influence of Scandinavian design in Australia’.
He has been a member of numerous selection and judging panels for craft and design exhibitions in Australia and overseas and lectures and writes regularly on crafts, design and the decorative arts. He has had extensive experience in Japan and Scandinavia and maintains strong connections with their contemporary craft and design cultures.
He was awarded the Centenary Medal for services to the decorative arts in Australia (2003); the Australia Council Visual Art Board Emeritus Medal for service to the crafts in Australia (2005); and made a member of the Order of Australia for services to craft, design and museums (2010).
Robert Bell maintained a studio practice in ceramics from 1967 to 1990, exhibition in Australia and overseas. His work is held in several Australian public art collections including the Art Gallery of Wetsern Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria.