Temporary public art commission for Plymouth Art Weekender 2020 – Open Brief

Visual Arts Plymouth CIC in partnership with Theatre Royal Plymouth are seeking expressions of interest from national artists for a temporary public art commission as part of Plymouth Art Weekender 2020. 

Artists are invited to submit proposals for a commission to be realised in Plymouth as part of the Weekender which takes place on 25th, 26th and 27th September 2020. In previous years, Armada Way in the City Centre has been a strong hub for this kind of activity.

The available fee is £5500. The fee is expected to cover artist fees, design, production, materials, installation, with at least one organised opportunity for local participation, and any travel and accommodation expenses included within the budget. There is the opportunity to apply for further funding with the support of the Plymouth Art Weekender team. 

Deadline for applications: 31st of October 2019

About Plymouth Art Weekender (PAW)

Plymouth Art Weekender is an ambitious three day event that takes place annually across the city. The Weekender confidently celebrates Plymouth, its people and the visual arts, promoting the city as an exciting contemporary art destination. Initiated by Visual Arts Plymouth CIC, a voluntary group of artists and organisers active in the city, PAW showcases a wide and diverse range of activities for all ages, with events and exhibitions throughout the city drawing large audiences and artists from Plymouth & beyond.

About Theatre Royal Plymouth (TRP)

Theatre Royal Plymouth is a registered charity providing art, education and community engagement throughout Plymouth and the wider region. TRP engages with and inspires many communities through performing arts and aims to touch the lives and interests of people from all backgrounds. TRP do this by creating and presenting a breadth of shows on a range of scales, with their extensive creative engagement programmes, by embracing the vitality of new talent and supporting emerging and established artists, and by collaborating with a range of partners to provide dynamic cultural leadership for the city of Plymouth.

The Commission Outline 

On the 23rd of March 2019, Theatre Royal Plymouth unveiled Messenger, a large-scale public artwork by Joseph Hillier, which depicts actor Nicola Kavanagh from Frantic Assembly in a dynamic crouching position. Speaking about the work at the time of launch Kavanagh encapsulated some of the motivation by TRP to commission this work.

“She’s brave, she’s not afraid. She is ready for anything that comes her way. If one little girl in Plymouth or anywhere else sees her and is inspired that would be great. There aren’t that many statues of women and those that are around are passive, demure or looking beautiful. She looks like she’s engaging and acting in a rebellious manner. I have two nieces, I think it’s very important that little girls and little boys see women doing things – and you can’t miss Messenger.”

For this co-commission with TRP, Visual Arts Plymouth are seeking proposals that engage either thematically or specifically with Messenger as a major piece of public art. We are very much hoping that the shortlisted proposals will include dynamic and engaged explorations of what Messenger represents. 

Some starting points could be 

  • Public art’s impact on the vista of the city
  • Messenger as a symbol of Frantic Assembly’s ethos and history
  • The female body as a site of debate
  • Traditional representations of women as statues 
  • Othello (the play the actor depicted was rehearsing for)

We envisage this commission taking shape through ongoing conversation with the commissioning partners and welcome proposals that will thoughtfully carry this through to the presentation of work at PAW 2020, including a strong visual presence over the 3 day festival. PAW is looking for works which will help draw audiences to the Weekender, through spectacle or intrigue and which will be widely enjoyed and remembered, as well as being a site for thought and discussion. The work should also consider ideas around community engagement and possible opportunities of co-authorship. 

Works in any form will be considered, however there is a preference for temporary artworks which have a presence in an outdoor public space.

Selected artists will work closely with the Festival Coordinators alongside support from Visual Arts Plymouth CIC and Plymouth City Council to develop their proposals, site & public participation.

Experience of working in the public realm is essential for this commission so please reference this in your application and explain why you feel your work may be suitable. 

It may be useful for artists considering applying to read Plymouth’s Public Art Plan and the Plymouth Principles

Application Requirements

To apply submit your expression of interest, send the following to plymouthartweekender@gmail.com:

  1. No more than 800 words, explaining your interest in this opportunity, how you would approach the commission 
  2. No more than 300 words, explaining your experience of and/or interest in working with community groups 
  3. Identify between 1 and 3 potential sites or venues
  4. A draft budget outline
  5. Up to 5 jpeg (max 1MB each) images of previous work and / or 5 URL links to websites showing specific sound and video works
  6. A link to a website, online portfolio or documentation of a previous project
  7. Artist CV/Bio or link to online CV/Bio 
  8. Phone and email contact details

Selection Process: 

From this information, 3 artists will be shortlisted for the commission – at this stage artists may be contacted with questions from the panel. The panel will include PAW Coordinators and representatives of Visual Arts Plymouth CIC, PCC and Theatre Royal Plymouth.

PAW endeavors to be an open and accessible platform – artists with a disability, or who feel that they may be at a disadvantage should contact plymouthartweekender@gmail.com to discuss this.

Important information: 

  • The fee listed for the commission is the total available and artists should budget for this to cover all production costs, expenses, VAT (if relevant) and artist fees
  • Artists should have their own public liability insurance in place, before activity commences
  • Applications from collectives or artists working in partnership are welcome
  • The PAW coordinators will work with the selected artists to find suitable venue(s) for their work at the Weekender, Plymouth City Council will support this process
  • In the past most PAW commissions have made use of sites along Armada Way, this is not a requirement however there are advantages to using Armada Way in terms of footfall and support from Plymouth City Council

Important dates: 

Deadline for applications: 31st October 2019

Artists notified by the: 14th November 2019

Please note that whilst we will endeavor to notify all applicants of their success or otherwise, the PAW team will be unable to offer individual feedback on applications. 

Plymouth Art Weekender is supported by Arts Council England, The Box, Nudge Community Builders CBS, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth University, Plymouth Marjon University, Take A Part, KARST, Plymouth Culture, Ocean Studios & RIO, Plymouth Athenaeum, Plymouth School of Creative Arts, Duke of Cornwall Hotel and Contemporary Art Membership Plymouth (CAMP) CIC.