Plymouth Contemporary 2021

A biennial exhibition showcasing emerging and established contemporary artists

Jennifer Taylor, ‘Lunar Dawn’, 2020, Digital Photographic Print, 60 x 42 cm
Jennifer Taylor, ‘Lunar Dawn’, 2020, Digital Photographic Print, 60 x 42 cm

7 July – 5 September 2021

The Levinsky Gallery and KARST

An open submission exhibition showcasing the work of contemporary artists working nationally and internationally. This, the third Plymouth Contemporary exhibition since its hugely successful launch in 2015, supported new ideas and a risk-taking approach across all art forms with previously featured artists going on to achieve national and international success.

Shown at The Levinsky Gallery, University of Plymouth and KARST. Delivered in partnership with The Box, Plymouth.

Making It

What does ‘Making It’ mean in 2021? The act of making, whether moulding and shaping an idea or a physical artwork, often involves failure, breaking, resistance, serendipity and ingenuity – all of which intertwine and overlap as part of the making process.

Similarly, what does it mean to ‘make it’ as an artist today? From making a difference, activism and DIY culture, to challenging the idea of success and accomplishment, or even overturning traditional notions of presentation and engagement. Plymouth Contemporary invited artists to open up, interrogate, unpick and shake out what 'Making It' might mean in terms of contemporary art practice in 2021.

Selected artists

Featured the work of 29 artists, selected from more than 130 proposals from the UK, Europe and America.

Camilla Alberti, Chris Alton, Bridgette Ashton, Bruce Asbestos, Kelly Best (+ Herbivore), Harriet Bowman, Caroline Bugby, Gordon Dalton, Kez Dearmer, Stephanie Douet, Nick Ervinck, Rosalind Faram, Damian Griffiths, Andy Harper, Sadie Hennessy, Will Hughes, Seungjo Jeong, Dean Knight, Molly Erin McCarthy, Charlotte McGuinness, James Moore, Paula Morison, Sang-Mi Rha, Janet Sainsbury, Anna Chrystal Stephens, Jennifer Taylor, Marianne Walker, Kate Williams and K. Yoland.

L-R: Jennifer Taylor, ‘Voyager’, 2020; Paula Morison, ‘Flooding’,
2021. Shown at KARST.
Jennifer Taylor, ‘Voyager’, 2020, fibreglass, papier-mâché, performance; Paula Morison, ‘Flooding’, 2021, newsprint. Shown at KARST.

SENTINEL by Jennifer Taylor

13 August 2021, 15:00 KARST 

As part of this exhibition you are invited to experience a live performance piece by Jennifer Taylor at KARST.

During this event, Jennifer will emerge from a glowing golden sphere and enact a series of absurd rituals and obscure ceremonial processes that will merge notions of a mystical ancient past with sci-fi fantasies of an imagined distant future.

Duration: approx 30 mins. No booking required.


Artists were selected by a panel of curators, art directors, artists and professionals from three key cultural change-makers within Plymouth: The Arts Institute, University of Plymouth; The Box and KARST, the largest independent, artist-led contemporary art venue in the region.

To support the growth and development of artists, the selection panel awarded the following prizes: 

  • Plymouth Contemporary Award winner Rosalind Faram, £2,500
  • Special Recognition Award winner Jennifer Taylor, £1,000
  • New Artist Award winner Kez Dearmer, £1,000
  • Audience Choice Award winners Andy Harper and Charlotte McGuinness, £250

About the selection panel...

Dr Tom Baugh

Dr Tom Baugh is the Head of Art at Falmouth University where he oversees BA (Hons) Fine Art, and BA (Hons) Drawing, as well as supporting the development of postgraduate research and teaching in the field of art practice. Tom is a Visiting Specialist at the University of Plymouth, and an active artist researcher. He adopts various practice methods associated with filmic projection, photography, and enactment, in the context of installation to re-define, and re-think the term ‘diagnosis’. Tom works with artists, social scientists, clinicians, health professionals, individuals, and groups who have experience of mental health concerns, in order to enlighten others regarding the fragility of the human mind, reduce stigma and increase recovery and autonomy. 

Ben Borthwick

Ben Borthwick is Head of Creative Programme at KARST and an independent curator and writer. He combines working internationally with artist development and community engagement. He was previously Artistic Director of Plymouth Arts Centre (2014-18) and CEO of Artes Mundi (2010-13), the international art prize and exhibition in Cardiff. From 2003-10 he was Assistant Curator at Tate Modern. He has curated exhibitions and commissions by artists including Bruce Nauman, Rose Wylie, Heather Phillipson, Andrea Büttner, Rosa Barba, Gilbert & George, Latifa Echakhch, Ciara Phillips, Shezad Dawood and Clare Thornton and well as group shows, residencies and a long running artist’s moving image programme in Plymouth Arts Centre’s cinema. He was public programmes curator for two editions of miART, the Milan art fair. Ben is also a trustee of Chapter and has served on many other boards and committees, including as Deputy Chair of Visual Arts South West, the acquisitions committee for FRAC Franche-Comté, the selection panel for the British Pavilion at Venice Biennale in 2013 and as National Advisor to Arts Council of Wales.

Nigel Hurst has been Head of Contemporary Arts at The Box

Nigel Hurst is a Contemporary Arts Consultant at The Box. He joined Plymouth’s major new museum, art gallery and archive from London’s Saatchi Gallery where he spent 23 years in different roles, most latterly Gallery Director and CEO. Nigel curated ‘Making It’ for The Box’s inaugural programme in 2020 – an exhibition featuring work by international artists from the UK, USA, Austria and Brazil.

During his time at the Saatchi gallery he led on a wide range of exhibitions that focused on emerging art markets including The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today (2010), Post Pop: East Meets West (2014) and From Selfie to Self-Expression (2017). He also oversaw a series of international touring exhibitions and collaborated on and co-produced exhibitions featuring contemporary design, fashion and music, including Hermès Wanderland (2014), Chanel Mademoiselle Prive (2015) and Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones (2016).   

Manick Govinda

Manick Govinda is an independent arts consultant, artists mentor, writer and Counterculture Associate. He was formerly Programme Director for SPACE and previously headed Artsadmin’s innovative artists’ development programme for 19 years, which led to producing film & video installations by internationally acclaimed artists such as 2007 Turner shortlisted artist Zarina Bhimji, 2021 Venice Biennale representative for France Zineb Sedira and Paul Hamlyn Foundation Awardee Larry Achiampong. He is a writer and commentator on diversity, freedom of expression and censorship in the arts. He also curates debates, talks and screenings on contemporary themes of identity, belonging, free speech and Brexit.

Nicoletta Lambertucci is Contemporary Art Curator at The Box, Plymouth

Nicoletta Lambertucci is Contemporary Art Curator at The Box. Nicoletta regularly curates shows internationally, and in 2019 she was the curator of the Serbian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. From 2010 until 2017 she was Curator at the David Roberts Art Foundation, London (DRAF) and worked on projects with artists such as Renate Bertlmann, Sarah Lucas and Laure Prouvost amongst many others. Based in London, Nicoletta holds an MA in Philosophy from La Sapienza, University of Rome and studied Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London (MA) with a specific focus on knowledge production and history of ideas. In 2011 Nicoletta was Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College where she researched pedagogical approaches in museums' public programmes in the UK. Nicoletta regularly contributes to CURA. Magazine and has been visiting tutor at MFA London Metropolitan University, Central St Martins and MFA Goldsmiths College.

Heather Phillipson

Heather Phillipson works across video, sculpture, web projects, music, drawing and poetry. THE END, her commission for the Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, was launched in summer 2020, alongside a new online audio work commissioned Art on the Underground. She will also undertake the next annual Tate Britain Duveen Galleries commission in March 2021. Phillipson’s recent solo projects include new works for Sharjah Biennial 14 and the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (both 2019), Art on the Underground’s flagship site at Gloucester Road, an online work for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and a major solo show at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (all in 2018).  Phillipson received the Film London Jarman Award in 2016, the European Short Film Festival selection from the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2018 and is also an award-winning poet. A monograph on her work was published by Prestel in 2020.

Mary Costello

Convened by

Mary Costello, Exhibitions Co-ordinator at The Arts Institute. Mary has been involved in the production and delivery of international contemporary art exhibitions since the 1980s, including ROSC exhibitions for The Arts Council, Ireland; at the Air Gallery, London, and, since 2012, for The Arts Institute. She has also lectured in Art History at University of Plymouth and continues to support the Fine Art and Art History programmes at the university through the provision and delivery of student placements at The Arts Institute. Mary particularly enjoys working on the Plymouth Contemporary exhibitions because of the range of artists and works involved, and the opportunity to both discover new talent, and to see how known artists’ work has developed.

Roland Levinsky Building

Plymouth Contemporary 2017

Following the hugely successful launch of the first Plymouth Contemporary in 2015, the 2017 exhibition themed Visions, ran from 15 July to 2 September 2017 across the two venues, The 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.

Find out more about 2017 exhibition, winners and the artwork.

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

Plymouth Contemporary 2015

Over 1,200 submissions from 450 artists were received from the UK, Ireland, Europe and beyond for the inaugural Plymouth Contemporary in 2015. Digital artwork, sculpture, paint, textile, installation and drawing were all displayed in the exhibition.

Find out more about the 2015 exhibition, winners and the artwork.

Plymouth Contemporary