Paul Vivian: Crouching Billionaire GhostSafety blanket, wood, metal, tape, cut paper, heigh apprximately 100cm, 2014.

The world’s turbulent social and political landscape is among the potential themes artists are being invited to consider for the 2017 Plymouth Contemporary.

Following a successful launch in 2015, which attracted entries from across the world, submissions for the second staging of the exhibition are now being invited with prizes of up to £2,500 on offer.

Any entries must be within the theme of visions, inviting artists to explore what the concept might mean for us now – from the political and social, to alternative realities and other dimensions, imaginary or absurd, utopian or dystopian, concrete or literal.

The 2017 Plymouth Contemporary is a partnership between the University of Plymouth, the Plymouth History Centre and KARST, the largest independent, artist-led contemporary art venue in the city.

Successful submissions will be featured in a dual-site exhibition taking place from July 15 to September 02 at the University’s Peninsula Arts Gallery and at KARST’s gallery space.

Dr Sarah Chapman, Director of Peninsula Arts, said:

“Following the hugely successful first Plymouth Contemporary, we hope this exhibition will continue on a trajectory to become a beacon for showcasing emerging talent and new perspectives within contemporary art. The aim is for it to become a major event within the national arts calendar, with a finger on the pulse of the latest developments and an eye on the next generation of artists.”

Nicola Moyle, Head of Arts and Heritage, Plymouth City Council, said:

“The first Plymouth Contemporary highlighted a fantastic combination of up and coming and established artists - and I'm sure that 2017 will be no different. Plymouth is really upping its game with the visual arts and it's an exciting time to be part of the city's ever-improving cultural offer. The History Centre is proud to support the 2017 Plymouth Contemporary and we're looking forward to seeing the wide range of submissions that come in for this year's exhibition.”

Carl Slater, Director of KARST, said:

“Plymouth is receiving a great amount of attention from international artists and curators. The contemporary visual arts ecology has developed considerably over the last five years and now plays a significant role in the culture of the city. We are pleased to be able to co-host the Plymouth Contemporary, providing a unique platform for artists who are working to push boundaries of contemporary art practice.”

In its first year, the Plymouth Contemporary attracted over 1200 submissions, with 450 being shortlisted to go before an acclaimed selection panel of curators, art directors, artists and professionals. Twenty-four works from artists and collaborations working across Britain, Ireland, Europe, Japan and Australia made the final exhibition.

For 2017, artists have until Friday 03 March to complete their submissions, and these will be judged by a panel of experts comprising:

  • Professor Chris Bennewith (Head of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Plymouth);
  • Ben Borthwick (Artistic Director, Plymouth Arts Centre);
  • Dr Sarah Chapman (Artist and Director of Peninsula Arts);
  • Louise Coysh, Director of Art and Culture, University of Southampton;
  • Judith Robinson (Arts and Cultural Development Manager, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery);
  • Carl Slater (Artist and Director of KARST).
Successful applicants will be notified if their work will feature in the exhibition before Easter. Those artists will then be in with a chance of winning one of four awards, with three of them – the Overall Award (£2,500), Special Recognition Award (£1,000) and New Artist Award (£1,000) – to be presented on the opening night, while the Audience Choice Award (£500) will be announced in the final week of exhibition.

Bram Thomas Arnold, the winner of the Audience Choice Award in 2015, said:

“Winning the award invigorated my practice at a key time, and being involved in the Plymouth Contemporary Open raised my profile on a regional and national level, enhancing my network and enabling me to step out of academia and into the art world. Since winning the competition I have completed my PhD, exhibited work in the UK and abroad with the support of the British Council and am in conversation with several publishers regarding my practice.”

Plymouth Contemporary Awards

The 2017 Plymouth Contemporary, themed Visions, ran from 15 July to 2 September 2017 across the two venues of the Roland Levinsky Gallery and KARST. Artists were asked to respond to the theme ‘Visions’, a pertinent subject at a time when the world, on the surface at least, seems to be going through turbulent change. 

The awards were chosen by a selection panel of curators, art directors, artists and professionals whose finger is on the pulse regarding the latest developments and will be presented on the opening night. The awards on offer are:

Plymouth Contemporary Award sponsored by Artmill Gallery & Framing Centre
Winner (£2,500): Kazuya Tsuji, for Solid I and Solid IV, graphite on paper 

Special Recognition Award sponsored by Bond Dickinson
(£1,000): Georgie Grace, for Attention Seeker

New artist award sponsored by Frances May Favata, Sculptor 
(£1,000): Andreea Anghel, for Never Saw A Wild Thing Sorry For Itself

Audience choice award
(£500): Reginald Aloysius for Departure.

Submissions and selection process

The 2017 selection panel included Ben Borthwick (Artistic Director, Plymouth Arts Centre), Sarah Chapman (Director, The Arts Institute and artist), Judith Robinson (Arts and Cultural Development Manager, Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives), Carl Slater (Director, KARST and artist), Professor Chris Bennewith, Head of the School of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Plymouth and Louise Coysh, Director of Arts and Culture, University of Southampton.

Find out more about the 2017 selection panel.

Please note applications are now closed.

Works featured in the Plymouth Contemporary 2015

  • PCO1

    Paul Vivian

    'Crouching Billionaire Ghost'
  • PCO11

    Chloe Brooks

    'Gleaming Portico'
  • PCO12

    Dan Beard

    'Portrait of Jean-Claude Duvalier' and '25 May 1980'
  • PCO2

    Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski

    'For the Roses' and 'For Freedom'
  • PCO3

    Harriet Bowman

    'Brick to Bone on a Luke Warm Plane'
  • PCO4

    Tim Foxon

    'A Shipment for a Massive Baby'
  • PCO5

    David Morgan-Davies

    'Life Before Colour #1 and #2'
  • PCO7

    Ailbhe Ni Bhriain

  • PCO9

    Jessie Brennan

    'A Brutal Story'
  • PCO14

    Naomi Frears

    'The Visitor' and 'Invisible Ceiling'
  • PCO15

    Bram Thomas Arnold

    'How to Walk'
  • PCO16

    Steven Paige

    'Antinous/Acrobats' and 'VINVS FOGGINI / SCVPSIT FLO / RENTIAE / 1749'