Plymouth Contemporary 2021

'What Would You Do?' Bo Lanyon, Plymouth Contemporary 2017  

The Levinsky Gallery unfortunately remains temporarily closed until further notice in line with government guidelines regarding COVID-19.

The Arts Institute, KARST and The Box bring you the Plymouth Contemporary 2021, an open submission exhibition that provides a platform for both emerging creative talent, and more established artists working nationally and internationally. This, the third Plymouth Contemporary exhibition since its hugely successful launch in 2015, continues to support new ideas and a risk-taking approach across all art forms with previously featured artists going on to achieve national and international success. Submissions are now closed.

The exhibition will run from 7 July-5 September 2021 across The Levinsky Gallery, University of Plymouth and KARST.

Theme: 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 invites artists to open up, interrogate, unpick and shake out what 'Making It' might mean in terms of contemporary art practice in 2021.

'Never Saw A Wild Thing Sorry For Itself', Andreea Anghel, Plymouth Contemporary 2017

'Never Saw A Wild Thing Sorry For Itself', Andreea Anghel, Plymouth Contemporary 2017


Artists will be 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, Plymouth and KARST, the largest independent, artist-led contemporary art venue in the region.

To support the growth and development of artists, selection panel will also present a series of awards as part of the exhibition's opening:  

  • Plymouth Contemporary Award, £2,500
  • Special Recognition Award, £1,000
  • New Artist Award, £1,000 - Open to current students or new graduates (Class of 2018/2019)
  • 2 x Audience Choice Awards, £250 each

Solid I and Solid IV, Kazuya Tsuji,   Plymouth Contemporary Award winner, 2017

Solid I and Solid IV, Kazuya Tsuji, Plymouth Contemporary Award winner, 2017

About the selection panel...

Dr Sarah Chapman is Director of The Arts Institute. She is invested in supporting the development of artists and creative practice and has initiated and collaborated on several high-profile commissions and international festivals, including: Plymouth Contemporary; The AI Film Commission; The River Tamar Project; Horizon and The Atlantic Project. Selected curatorial highlights include: Douglas Gordon: Searching for Genius; the international award-winning Moby Dick Big Read; the Ancient Mariner Big Read and the associated national touring exhibition Mariner, which included commissions by Serena Korda, Grace Schwindt, Lucy & Jorge Orta, and Mary Evans.  


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.

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.


Nigel Hurst has been Head of Contemporary Arts at The Box since 2018. 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).    

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.

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. 

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. 

The Plymouth Contemporary archive

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 Ghost'

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, scupture, paint, textile, installation and drawing were all displayed in the exhibition.

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

*Terms and conditions of entry

  • Online submissions only; we cannot accept postal entries.  
  • No late submissions will be accepted. The deadline is 00:00 (midnight) Thursday 12 November 2020.  
  • All entrants must be aged 18 or over at the time of submission.  
  • To be eligible for the New Artist Award, the artist must be a current student (2020) or recent graduate (2018 and 2019 only).
  • A maximum of two works per artist can be submitted. Multiple applications will not be permitted. All submitted artworks may be chosen for display, so entries must be available from Monday 8 March to Tuesday 13 July 2021. These dates include transport, installation and the exhibition. No substitutes will be accepted if the artwork is no longer available or has been sold.  
  • All work must be the artist’s own.
  • Maximum dimensions: 2D, wall-based work: 2.5 x 2.5 metres (width by height, including frame). 3D, sculpture and floor-based work: 2.5 x 2.5 metres (width by height).
  • Total weight, including packing materials, must not exceed 100kg.
  • Entries requiring special installation or equipment should include details in the ‘installation/technical/equipment requirements’ section of the entry form.
  • The artist is responsible for packing or crating their work.
  • The Arts Institute and KARST will co-ordinate and cover the cost of transporting* selected works to and from The Levinsky Gallery and KARST (*subject to negotiation in special cases).  
  • A travel bursary will be available on application to contribute to costs associated with attending the exhibition.
  • All artworks are submitted at the artists' own risk. Artwork to be displayed in The Levinsky Gallery will be covered by The Arts Institute’s nail-to-nail insurance.
  • Artwork for The Levinsky Gallery must be available for collection and return on the following dates:
  • Collection: Monday 8/Tuesday 9/Wednesday 10 March 2021. Delivery dates (for all artwork not sold): Wednesday 26 / Thursday 27 / Friday 28 May 2021.
  • Artwork for KARST must be available for collection and return on the following dates:
  • Collection: Week beginning 3 May 2021. Delivery dates (for all artwork not sold): Week beginning 6 July 2021.