Chester Visual Arts aims to make its work a permanent part of Chester and to enhance the city and the region as a better place to live, work and visit. Its ultimate aim is to secure a permanent home within the city, as a creative visual arts centre and public art gallery of international standing.

To view a Board member biography, please select from the list below.

Ian Short is co-owner of Chester based AielloShort, art and urban regeneration advisors and investors, with national and international reach. Its focus is on attracting inward investment for development and arts projects, and combining commercial property, historic preservation and legal experience in the retail, leisure, cultural and financial sectors.

Ian has a law degree from Liverpool University and is a retired lawyer, formerly as Legal Director & Company Secretary of Morris & David Jones, a major plc in the wholesale and retail food distribution business, Managing Partner of Bermans and Business Development Director of DWF, national law firms based in Liverpool. Ian has long experience in property, corporate and commercial law, with particular recent emphasis on public and private sector partnerships, urban regeneration and inward investment.

He also has extensive experience in the creative industries sector, particularly relating to the management of arts facilities and the role of culture as a driver of regeneration and community education. He is a member and past sponsor of Tate Liverpool (“Testing the Water”, 1997/98, the first Tate exhibition anywhere to be curated by young people from 14 to 24 years old) and was a long serving Director of Visionfest, a precursor of the Liverpool Biennial, and the Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool, which there included the planning and implementation of its rebuilding and regeneration programme a few years ago. Ian is also a member of Art Fund, Cheshire.

He is a former Director of Liverpool Habitat for Humanity and Housing People Building Communities (HPBC), a unique social housing trust, currently building 32 houses in Toxteth, Liverpool, and is Vice-President and past Chairman of the Brunswick Youth Club, Bootle and a former Director of the Merseyside Youth Association.

Ian, a contemporary art collector, has lived in Chester for the past 16 years with Cynthia, his wife and business partner, who, for the past 8 years, have been exploring ways to improve the visual arts experience in the City, culminating in their founding Chester Visual Arts.

Cynthia Aiello-Short is a US and Italian citizen with a degrees History and Historic Preservation from Goucher College, Towson, Maryland, and advanced graduate studies in public policy at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA.

She has an extensive property background in leisure and retail, with international reputation and connection. Cynthia has managed, led and delivered international projects – South Street Seaport, New York, Charles Square at Harvard Square, Boston, and Maremagnum waterfront development in Barcelona, all commercial mixed use developments with large elements of public realm, museum & gallery, leisure & retail provision for their cities. She also has extensive experience in senior asset and fund management and director advisory roles with The Rouse Company, USA, Jones Lang LaSalle, Grosvenor, and London First.

Also, whilst living in New York City, she founded and was a board member and director of an international gallery for illustration art with a member of the Heineman publishing family in SoHo. She directed and curated many international exhibitions, including the New Yorker Magazine, Chris Beetles Gallery, London and Sotheby’s.

Cynthia came to live in the UK in 1994 and, since leaving the London corporate world to live in Chester 16 years ago, and following other retail and regeneration projects, with her husband, Ian Short, she has set up AielloShort, art and urban regeneration advisors and investors, with national and international reach. Its focus is on attracting inward investment for development and art projects, and combining, commercial property, historic preservation and legal experience in the retail, urban regeneration, cultural and financial sectors.

She is a former member of the Urban Land Institute, lecturer at New York University, syndicated columnist for Leisure Week Magazine, UK and is currently a member of the Tate and art collector. Cynthia is also Board Member and former Treasurer of The Art Fund, Cheshire.

Canon Jane Brooke was installed as a Residentiary Canon at Chester Cathedral in September 2010. As Canon Chancellor she oversees education work and promotes the visual arts in the Cathedral. Jane has taught children of 3-18 years for over 20 years. She has taught RE, Maths, English, Science and Art to secondary students and is currently an educational consultant in Religious Education.

Jane is passionate about the visual arts because she considers that they offer a unique engagement with the artist through the art as well as a personal challenge to the observer. They also offer the possibility of encountering an unknown mystery beyond ourselves.

Hilary Banner is a retired solicitor having practised in partnership in Liverpool dealing with commercial work as well as a large number of newly emerging charitable cultural and arts organisations. She worked to establish the E.Chambré Hardman Trust Museum in Liverpool following the death of the photographer, as well as managing projects for the restoration of historic buildings through a Building Preservation Trust. Subsequently attaining a Masters degree in Environmental Law, she worked alongside industry in areas of environmental legal compliance and business systems.

Much of her work has involved project establishment and management with funding applications and, through continuing charitable work, event organisation and fund raising.

Hilary formerly chaired the Cheshire Committee of the Art Fund; the arts charity which provides a wealth of grants to the nation’s museums and galleries for the acquisition of works, the establishment of new collections and for curatorial development. She is also a Director of a London based Property Management Company.

An enthusiastic supporter of the arts, Hilary is patron to a number of NW arts organisations. She visits as many provincial galleries and museums as time allows. Spending part of her time in London provides the opportunity to be in touch with not only the major galleries but also less well-known contemporary arts institutions. Now living in Chester, she is committed to the establishment of a contemporary art gallery of national importance.

David McGravie joined the Interim University in December 2022, from his current role as the University of Derby’s Interim PVC and Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Education, with overall strategic and operational responsibility for those broad curriculum areas and for UK and overseas partnerships. This has included wide-ranging involvement in academic quality; learning and teaching skills; portfolio development; international and planning strategy; and championing civic and community liaison.

David leads Chester’s newly integrated Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences as its Executive Dean, and is a member of the Strategic Executive Team in this new post.

His academic career spans more than 20 years. Eight of those were at Derby and before that, he was Associate Dean for the School of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire, with a remit covering international, partnerships and recruitment. He has worked extensively overseas, particularly in China and Malaysia. A staunch advocate of Transnational Education, he is an Honorary Professor at Beihei University of Art and Design and Visiting Lecturer in Industrial Design at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astrophysics and was invited last year by the Cypriot equivalent of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education to lead the team reviewing provision at the European University Cyprus.

David’s own studies were undertaken at Leeds Polytechnic and the Universities of Staffordshire and Hertfordshire, after growing up in South Liverpool. His background is in product design and related fields and he was an early adopter of 3D modelling and rapid prototyping, incorporating this within traditional design methods as a key part of his teaching.

David chairs UK New Artists, enabling the audience to see new young artists’ work in cities for free; is Vice Chair of The Council for Higher Education in Art & Design (CHEAD); and Director of Artists Access to Arts Colleges, providing placements for visual artists and designer-makers in HE. He is a Fellow of both the Higher Education Academy and the Royal Society of Arts and has Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) accreditation.

Dr. Catherine Pütz has over two decades’ experience as a senior museum professional, building exhibition, engagement and partnership strategies for institutions of the highest international status. Before studying for a doctorate at the Courtauld Institute of Art in the late 1990s, and then publishing widely on modernist sculpture, her academic life started at Cambridge University with Modern Languages. Originally from the North West, her part-Austrian, part-Italian heritage has meant that Catherine especially relished working with museum colleagues around the world in ambitious exhibition partnerships showcasing the most iconic international collections, the very latest research, and the most exciting digital engagement strategies.

As Head of Exhibitions at the National Gallery, she forged highly successful partnerships with her peers at the Metropolitan Museum (Gossaert), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Delacroix) and the Rijksmuseum (Late Rembrandt) to present ground-breaking projects that celebrated the richest of visual art traditions. She has been especially active during her 6 years as Head of V&A Touring exhibitions in presenting the fruits of these many collaborations to professional networks from the IEO/International Exhibitions Organisation to ICAM/The International Confederation of Architecture Museums, as also in enabling the V&A’s new initiatives from Dundee to China.

Throughout her career, she has also made a significant contribution to developing new smaller public spaces for art, including opening the first RIBA public gallery at the Portland Place HQ and building new strategy to reopen the Brunel Museum Rotherhithe in 2020. From her time as the Courtauld Gallery’s first Collections Registrar she has remained hands-on, especially in developing gallery procedures and sustainable visitor facing events programmes. As the arts sector has become more business-like, so the experiences from her previous publishing career (BBC Enterprises; Reed Publishing; the Economist newspaper) have come more into the frame, and she has a track record of building new revenue streams into her public programmes.

Her passion however is above all for delivering accessible arts programming for local communities. She acts as a consultant to London’s Foundling Museum, the UK’s first public art gallery, and is building a new local support network in West London around the therapeutic benefits of poetry and performance. While at the V&A she ran a dynamic national touring programme that reached venues large and small in every corner of the UK, and she embraces the new values-driven ethos that connects makers and their communities around art, well-being and the power of our art spaces to give agency.