Tributes paid to former MK Gallery director found dead in Oxford garden

Michael Stanley
Michael Stanley

THE former director of Milton Keynes Gallery has died.

Michael Stanley, who was director of MK Gallery between 2004 and 2009, was found dead in a garden of a house in Adelaide Street, Oxford, by a member of the public on Friday.

He was declared dead at the scene. Police said the death was being treated as unexplained, but believe there are no suspicious circumstances.

Today, senior gallery staff paid tirbute to the man who went on to be director of Modern Art Oxford.

The gallery’s current director, Anthony Spira, said: “Mike was incredibly talented and in his five years in Milton Keynes he developed a rich and adventurous artistic programme.

“He forged exciting connections, from the local to the international, and was an ambassador for the city. He was extremely popular and will be missed enormously.

“Our thoughts and feelings go out to his family, friends and colleagues.”

And chairman Will Cousins added: “During his time as director Mike took the Gallery from strength to strength.

“He opened our eyes to new creative worlds and his passion for Milton Keynes helped us see our city in a new light. His boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm will be very much missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

During his five years at MK Gallery, Mr Stanley was responsible for two Turner Prize nominated exhibitions; Yeah…, baby you! by Phil Collins and Cathy Wilkes in 2008, as well as a range of first UK solo exhibitions including Roger Hiorns and Phillip Allen and by international artists including Pae White, Carlos Amorales, Carlos Bunga and Adrian Paci.

He curated the widely acclaimed survey exhibition of work by Marcel Broodthaers and an exhibition of work by the late James Lee Byars, both in Milton Keynes and in Venice. He also introduced new strands of programming, including offsite projects by Johanna Billing, Wolfgang Weileder, Langlands & Bell and dRMM architects.

Chairman of Modern Art Oxford David Isaac also paid tribute to Mr Stanley.

He said: “We have lost a great talent; our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”