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Two museums in South West receive special award to work with contemporary visual artists

  • Date: 23 May 2014
  • Area: South West
Artists with picture frames making shadows on walls

3 Out Of 4, research and development, 2014, Nancy J Clemance. Credit: Tara Harland Viney

Bridport Museum in Dorset and Penryn Town Museum in Cornwall have been selected for a national 'New Opportunities Award' (NOA), creating exciting new collaborations and commissions with contemporary visual artists.

Developed by the pioneering New Expressions programme and in partnership with the Contemporary Visual Arts Network, NOA aims to create innovative partnerships for organisations in the heritage sector as well as new ways of working for artists.

The New Expressions programme is supported with a grant of £150,000 from Arts Council England's National lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme. It establishes a national approach to collaboration between contemporary artists and museums and explores how partnership working can be developed to deliver engaging visitor experiences and provide fresh approaches to collections at museums across England.

The museums and their partner artists were chosen via an open competition and are set to receive a grant of £4,000 as well as mentoring advice, support and professional development opportunities provided by the New Expressions team.

Dorset's market town Bridport has a long history as a rope and net making centre. In honour of these roots, Bridport Museum boasts a rare rope and net-based Sanctuary Collection that will be the starting point for work with socially-engaged artist, Nancy J Clemance. Clemance, whose practice involves text, printing and performative work, will spend six months researching the collection before holding conversations with the local community and incorporating their opinion into the work she takes forward.

Further west in the historic port of Penryn - one of the oldest towns in Cornwall - more collaborations will be formed. With the support of curatorial agency Field Notes, Penryn Museum will work with artists Richard Baines and Matthew Bennington. Baines' work takes inspiration from tribal objects and books found in museums while Bennington works within the field of disguise, turning recognisable objects and subjects unrecognisable. The artists were selected for the way they both address mystery and create stories in their practice, blurring the lines between new and old and combining cutting edge output with high quality craftsmanship.

John Orna-Ornstein, Director, Museums, South West, Arts Council England said: 'The NOA award is a great example of how cross disciplinary collaborations are nurturing artistic talent as well as developing audiences for both museums and visual arts. We are very excited to be supporting the New Expressions programme.'

The two museums are among six regional museums to be awarded the NOA. Others include Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire and Strutt's North Mill, Derbyshire in the Midlands; and Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, Yorkshire and Touchstones Rochdale, Greater Manchester in the North.

Judith Robinson, New Expressions Programme Manager, said: 'New Expressions pioneers collaboration between artists, museums and heritage staff and audiences to invigorate historic collections, buildings and spaces. We received a high number of applications for NOA funding so the six successful applicants have done brilliantly to get this far. We're really looking forward to welcoming the six museums and their chosen artists to the New Expressions 'family' and seeing what happens with everyone's projects as they progress and come to fruition.'

Find more information about NOA and New Expressions here