Dr Sarah Chapman

Dr Sarah Chapman

Director of Peninsula Arts

The Arts Institute (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)



Director of The Arts Institute


PhD, Puncturing the Silence: Painting Over the Found Photograph, Awarded 2014
MA Sequential Design, Brighton University, 2002
BA Hons (first class) Design Arts, Plymouth University, 1997

Roles on external bodies

Trustee, Oceans Conservation Trust, National Marine Aquarium 2016 - to date.

Director of Visual Arts Plymouth CIC, 2015 - to date (chair from 2016 - 2018), overseeing the funding and management of the annual Plymouth Art Weekender.

Steering group, Visual Arts South West, 2015 - 2018.

Artists Mentor,Visual Arts South West, 2014 - 2016.

Plymouth Festival of Words Steering group in partnership with Literature Works (previously Plymouth International Book Festival) 2012 - 2019.

Director of Plymouth Visual Arts Consortium, 2010 - 2014, overseeing the funding and delivery of the city-wide British Art Show 7 and associated engagement programme within Plymouth.



Teaching interests

BA Media Arts, MA Publishing, BA/BSc Digital Arts and Technology. 



Creative practice & artistic projects

Professional interest in:
  • Arts strategy, management and curation 
  • Multi art-form and inter/cross-disciplinary art practice
  • The benefits of a liberal arts education within H.E/ history and development of public art galleries/collections associated with UK Universities
  • Critical cultural writing/reviews and commentary 
  • Performance poetry/ writing
  • Painting and photography
  • Found photographs
Selected Projects:

2020: Co-curator with P. Hoare and A. Cockayne - The Ancient Mariner Big Read (April 2020), a new digital interpretation of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, featuring special readings from world renowned names and contributions from international artists. In partnership with The Box; John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton; University of Bath; The Marine Institute, Plymouth. Funding from multiple sources.

2019 - 2020: Co-curator with P. Hoare and A. Cockayne - Mariner: A Painted Ship upon a Painted Ocean, a national touring exhibition including new commissions by Serena Korda, Grace Schwindt, Lucy + Jorge Orta and Mary Evans, alongside selected work by Nicola Bealing, Vija Celmins, Angela Cockayne, Naomi Frears, Ellen Gallagher & Edgar Cleijne, Justin Brice Guariglia, Nadav Kander, Linder, Joe Lyward, and Richard Wentworth. Delivered by The Arts Institute and The Box, Plymouth partnership, in association with Andrew Brownsword Gallery, University of Bath and John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton. Supported by Arts Council England. This national touring exhibition was first presented at The Levinsky Gallery, Plymouth (17 September - 17 November, 2019), Andrew Brownsword Gallery, Bath (24 January - 23 March, 2020) and John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton (2 May–4 July 2020).

2018: Curator - Great Artists / Great Teachers. Featuring Phyllida Barlow, David Batchelor, Anthony Caro, Michael Craig-Martin, Richard Hamilton, Lubaina Himid, Janice Kerbel, Rosalind Nashashibi, Wendy Pasmore, Victor Pasmore, Carl Plackman, Bob and Roberta Smith, Jon Thompson and Richard Wentworth. In partnership with the Arts Council Collection, Royal Academy of Arts, London and The Box.

Conceived and launched the Plymouth Contemporary (2015, 2017, 2021) in partnership with KARST and The Box. With a new artist award. Supported by multiple funders.

2017: Co-curator with B. Borthwick - Malcolm Le Grice: Present Moments and Passing Time. Dual sited exhibition in partnership with Plymouth Arts Centre.

2016-2019: Executive management of The Atlantic Project, a 3-week public art festival that commissioned new artwork within the public realm, bringing artists and performers of international standing to Plymouth. Part of a two-year multiple funded city-wide festival ‘Horizon’ supported by Arts Council England.

2016: Curator - Searching for Genius: Douglas Gordon and Sir Joshua Reynolds, Peninsula Arts Gallery in association with Arts Angel, London and the Gagosian, London.

2016 - to date: launched The Arts Institute artist film commission (previously Peninsula Arts) and the new film artist award. In partnership with the South West Film & Television archive. Successful artists include: Frances Scott, Bryony Gillard, Richard Broomhall, Chris Bailey and Ieuan Jones.

2013-2016: Executive management of the River Tamar Project, including It's All About the River film festival (September-October 2014). Funding from multiple sources.

2015: Co-curator - Soil Culture: Dig It, in partnership with the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW), featuring Canadian artist-in-residence Lisa Hirmer (Dodolab). Supported by the British Society of Soil Science and Arts Council England. Part of the touring exhibition - Deep Roots, with international artists: Paolo Barrile, Mel Chin, Herman de Vries, Richard Long, Ana Mendieta and Claire Pentecost with work by Chris Drury, Andy Goldsworthy, Sandra Masterson, Daro Montag, David Nash, Peter Ward and Adam White.

2015: PRESENT TENSE: Sarah Chapman & Karen Roulstone. Exhibition exploring the relationship between the codes of painting and photography. Alamo Projects, Plymouth.

2014: Co-curator with Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery - Peter Randall-Page: New Sculpture and Works on Paper, first major exhibition in the region for twenty-five years. Including overseeing the temporary loan of three large scale sculptures - Fructus, Corpus and Phyllotaxus, on the University of Plymouth campus (2014-2017).

2012- 2014: Executive Director and co-curator of Moby-Dick Big Read www.mobydickbigread.com contributions from Tilda Swindon, David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch amongst others, alongside a line-up of international artists. Also shown as part of Aquatopia at Nottingham Contemporary (2013) and TATE St Ives (2013-2014). Funding from multiple partners.

2012: Managed commission of new public art sculpture - Arrival and Departure by Ian McChesney (St James Square, University of Plymouth), as part of the University 150th anniversary celebrations.

2012: Curator - Knowledge Museum Kit and News After NewsDan Perjovschi and Lia Perjovschi exhibition and publication. Funding support from the Romanian Cultural Institute.

2009: Co-curator - (Re)Sounding signs: Polish Chopin Posters 1955-2006, including Henryk Tomaszewski, the Wroclaw Four group, Rafal Olbinski and Waldemar Swierzy, with funding from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Poland and the Polish Embassy, London.

2008: Curator - Art & Insects. Funded by the Royal Entomological Society (University of Plymouth). 

2008: Curator - Beryl Cook 1926-2008, A Retrospective exhibition and publication.



Editorial / Chapter contributions

2016: 'Soil Culture: Dig-it' in Soil Culture: Bringing the Arts Down to Earth, ed Clive Adams and Dr Daro Montag, (co-published by The Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World and Gaia Project).

2015: Plymouth Contemporary Open 2015, exhibition catalogue (Plymouth University).

2014: 'Peter Randall-Page in conversation with Sarah Chapman' in Peter Randall-Page: Drawings (Plymouth, University of Plymouth Press).

2013: 'University Galleries and public art programs within the UK' in Exhibiting Photography: A Practical Guide to Displaying Your Work (Oxford: Focal Press), 124-127. 

2012: Introduction to Dominion: A Whale Symposium, ed Angela Cockayne and Philip Hoare, (Bath: Wunderkammer Press, January 2012) p 18-20.

2011 'What Can University Galleries Offer?' in Cabinet: Changing Perceptions, ed P Quinn, (Plymouth University Press), 20-21.

2008: Beryl Cook 1926-2008, ed Jess Wilder and Sarah Chapman, (Plymouth University Press). Alongside curating the first major retrospective of Beryl Cook's work in the Peninsula Arts Gallery, following her death, the publication brought together academics and critical commentators who questioned and examined the division between the huge popularity of Cook's work and the art establishment's resistance in recognising her success whilst she was alive. 

Conference / Journal papers

2015: Winter, J., Chapman S. and treasure, K. 'Using a University Arts Gallery to Enhance the Student Learning Experience'. SEDA annual conference. Cardiff. 19-20 November 2015.

2015: Chapman, S. 'The Body which Throbs: Photography and Graphic Intervention'. Ways of Seeing Conference, Queens House, Royal Museums Greenwich, 17 July 2015.

2014: Winter J, Chapman S, & Treasure J., 'Contemporary Art as Extra-curricular Learning: Lessons from a University Art Gallery', TheInternational Journal of Arts Education.

2013: Winter J & Chapman S., 'Public Arts as extra-curricularlearning' Vice Chancellor's Conference on Teaching and Learning.  Plymouth University, UK  28 June 2013.

2013: Winter J & Chapman S., 'Public Arts as Extra CurricularLearning' The 8th International Conference on the Arts inSociety.  Budapest, Hungary  24 June 2013. 

Author / Art Direction

2012: Author and Art Direction: Dan & Lia Perjovschi, The Art of Marginalia, with essay by Crowley, D.,(Plymouth University Press). 

2009 - 2012: Art Direction and Design: Twenty Romanian Writer series (Plymouth University Press supported by the Romanian Cultural Institute).

2007- 2011: Art Direction and Design: Short Fiction, series 1-5 (Plymouth University Press).



Reports & invited lectures

Chair: Mariner Roundtable discussion #2 with artist Grace Schwindt, researcher Dr Philippe Blondel (physics) and writer and exhibition co-curator, Dr Philip Hoare on how Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner might be understood in present times, as well as the benefits and tensions of cross-discipline working across art and science. The Edge, University of bath, 13 February 2020.

Chair: Mariner Roundtable discussion #1 with artist Mary Evans, Professor Richard Thompson (Director of The Marine Institute) and Dr Mandy Bloomfield (Associate Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature), University of Plymouth, 13 November, 2019.

Talk: The essential Importance of Art Education - In Conversation with Sir Michael Craig-Martin RA, and Dr Sarah Chapman, Curator and Artistic Director of The Arts Institute, exploring the special character, methodologies, and value of art education at every level - University of Plymouth, 25 September, 2018.

Chair: HIDDEN HISTORIES, Plymouth International Book Festival, with writer Imogen Robertson and artist Holly Davey, 2015.

Conferences organised

2011 May Future Visions (Film Festival)
Roland Levinsky Building, Plymouth University This week-long celebration of film, included talks from film-makers and critics and was programmed in anticipation of the curatorial theme 'In the Days of the Comet' underpinning the British Art Show 7, Peninsula Arts Gallery and across Plymouth (September-December 2011). The festival questioned how contemporary uncertainties manifest themselves into a dystopian vision of the future as seen through film. 

2011 February Whale Festival 
Roland Levinsky Building, Plymouth University
Inspired by the Dominion exhibition in Peninsula Arts Gallery, the three day Festival celebrated the iconographic image of the whale and it's place in literature, biology and history. Bringing together international artists and scientists the festival included performances, film screenings, poetry readings, talks and music, the hugely popular festival attracted both an academic and public audience. 

2010 - 2011 November Romanian Festival, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University. A three day festival across two years celebrating Romanian Art, Performance, Film, Literature and Music (in partnership with the Romanian Cultural Institute)

2009 February Disposable People, Co-organisor, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University. A symposium exploring the ethics of Documentary Photography and Journalism (in partnership with Hayward Touring, Autograph ABP, Magnum Photographers)

2009 May Animal Gaze, Co-organisor, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University. A symposium which examined how artists are responding to the changing relationship between animal and human in the light of recent medical advancements. Programmed in response to the 200th anniversary of Darwin. (Supported by PVAC and Centre of Contemporary Art and the Natural World)

2008 May Exploring Consciousness, Co-organisor, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University. A symposium which explored a range of Art & Science collaborations, in response to Scribing the Soul exhibition by Susan Aldworth (Peninsula Arts Gallery)

Other academic activities

2014-2015 TFAS award (teaching fellowship) 'Teaching and Learning in the PeninsulaArts Gallery'

2012-2013 TFAS award 'Public Arts as Extra-Cirricula Learning'

2013 Awarded two Vice-Chancellor's Enterprise Award's as part of the Moby-Dick Big Read team and the Plymouth International Book Festival team.

2012 Peninsula Arts team shortlisted for a Vice-Chancellor's Enterprise Award for Creative Initiative in helping to present the British Art Show to Plymouth ​

2011 Shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Award, Excellence and Innovation in the Arts, Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival

2009 Awarded a Vice-Chancellor's Enterprise Award for International Engagement. Paul Honeywill, Anthony Caleshu, Sarah Chapman & Simon Ible, University of Plymouth Press and Peninsula Arts.

2006 Teaching Qualification: GTA (General Teaching Award).

Additional information

Active Partnerships
Strategic partnership with The Box, Plymouth (2013 - 2023)