A short history of Plymouth’s contemporary arts ecology

I’m having a go at compiling a short ‘history’ of Plymouth’s contemporary arts ecology, and significant milestones that have contributed to the development of visual arts and experimental arts activity in the city. Please contribute!!!

I’m having a go at compiling a short ‘history’ of Plymouth’s contemporary arts ecology, and significant milestones that have contributed to the development of visual arts and experimental arts activity in the city. This list is by no means comprehensive, and please feel free to comment with information / links about thing I have missed, left out, or haven’t included yet!!

A short history of Plymouth’s contemporary arts ecology


Image credit: LOW PROFILE – Would You Like This Badge? (2011) – photo by Josh Greet

Work In Progress…


  • Four Cities Project  – a series of temporary offsite works in the cities of Derry, Glasgow, Newcastle and Plymouth. Organised by TSWA, a public arts organisation supported by TSW – Television South West. Co-organisers: Tony Foster, Jonathan Harvey, James Lingwood. In Plymouth, the project was hosted by Plymouth Arts Centre, including artists Geneviàve Cadieux, Helen Chadwick, Richard Deacon, Ron Haselden, Magdalena Jetelova, Vong Phaophanit, Donald Rodney, Darrell Viner. Organiser: Rosy Greenlees, TSWA Educator Co-ordinator: Moira Innes.


  • i-DAT is established. i-DAT is located within the Faculty of Arts at Plymouth University and has been delivering world-class cultural activities since 1998 – http://i-dat.org







  • Project Space 11 – Project Space 11 opened on the 23rd June 2010, was an artist-led initiative situated in the heart of Plymouth City Market. The setting of a traditional indoor market – a microcosm of Plymouth culture and unique in its architecture creates an unusual and challenging arena for visual art. Supported by Plymouth City Council, Plymouth City Centre CompanyPlymouth College of Art and Arts Council England –  http://www.artcornwall.org/features/Gabby_Hoad_Project_Space_11.htm & https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/project-space-11
  • Stonehouse Action is established –
  • The Pigs of Today are the Hams of Tomorrow – Curatorial collaboration with artist Marina Abramovic delivering a performance festival, symposium, exhibition and catalogue.


  • Sinopticon – 3rd multi-site exhibition by PVAC. Sinopticon is part of the National Trust’s ‘Trust New Art’ programme, in partnership with Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and Plymouth College of Art Gallery – http://www.plymouthart.ac.uk/latest/calendar/sinopticon
  • British Art Show 7
  • BAS Fringe – artist-led, city-wide programme of events that run alongside British Art Show 7, including Come To Ours, Vessel (later to become KARST). Operates as a non-hierarchical platform to promote arts activity in the city, with online listings and profiles of artists and collectives.



  • PABDMouth – Nom de Strip and Publish and be Damned bring a taste of Publish and be Damned’s artist-led publishing fair to the South West for a one day event including book-stalls, live events and artists’ films. https://www.facebook.com/events/652855331401766



  • Visual Arts Plymouth is established – Visual Arts Plymouth (VAP) is a group which represents independent artists, curators and key cultural organisations in the city. By working together the group bring knowledge, experience and ideas together with aim to raise the profile and promote the diverse range of arts activity happening in Plymouth. – https://www.facebook.com/Visual-Arts-Plymouth-VAP-1478913162356036
  • Radiant is established – Converted in Summer 2014 from an abandoned bank, Radiant is a gallery, studio space, office housing creatives, bistro, and teaching space, set up by Effervescent. The first (only) contemporary art gallery in Europe which is solely curated by children and young people. http://www.radiantspace.org.uk
  • Counter is established – Counter is an artist book event, that draws together artists, collectives and book works to make friends, sell books, buy books, share work, share knowledge, learn something new, start conversations, ask questions, try to find answers and exchange ideas. http://counterplymouth.com
  • Walk On: From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff – 40 Years of Art Walking – 4th multi-site exhibition by PVAC. http://www.plymouthart.ac.uk/latest/calendar/walk-on-from-richard-long-to-janet-cardiff-40-years-of-art-walking





What am I missing??? Please comment below with any information you have (including descriptions / links to information, images etc. of the events above and HELP ME build this ‘history’ so that it is easy to find for other people!

Rachel Dobbs is one half of LOW PROFILE, an artist and educator based in Plymouth, UK. Rachel works on community projects, has a long-term interest in creative approaches to community development and runs workshops, teaching & training sessions for a range of formal & informal groups including students, arts practitioners and communities – contact me for more details.


maybe the Plymouth University contemporary music festival? not sure when that was established but it was definitely on in the early years of when we arrived (around 2005) xx

tribemedia (www.tribemedia.org) founded in 2011. Supporting over 60 arts undergrads through its volunteering programme to gain new skills and experiences, and 300+ and counting local creatives by providing a platform to show their work globally. 🙂

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