New Art West Midlands, Coventry City of Culture Trust and ARUP
Deadline: 5pm, Wednesday 29 April 2020
Lab dates: provisionally rescheduled for 13-17 July 2020
Location: Coventry, site tbc

We are delighted to announce a call out for an artist’s lab developed by New Art West Midlands, working with Coventry City of Culture Trust, ARUP and artist Simon Poulter.

The lab is open to artists from all art-forms including visual arts, photography, theatre, sound, live art, design, digital and any other hybrid forms. It is open to artists at all career stages as a professional development opportunity. You must be based in the West Midlands, within travelling distance of Coventry.


We will be working with ARUP, with input from their Midlands team, based in Solihull. Artists will have the opportunity to explore some of the emerging technologies that ARUP are working with, including LIDAR (​Light Detection and Ranging).

Active Reality is a way of describing site related and site specific public artworks that incorporate a range of elements. We are encouraging participants to think about work that is located in a place, has narrative form, uses episodic approaches (‘releases’), incorporates digital and has live elements. We expect collaborations and new partnerships to emerge from the lab.

What will it be like
These labs are based on a method that Simon Poulter devised in 1997 at Dartington College. They encourage peer presentation, engaging with new processes and taking risks in your working practice. The lab environment is intensive, friendly and encapsulates both practical skills and theory. There will be exploration of Coventry as a city, along with sessions run by other professionals. You will learn new skills and have the opportunity to present your own work to peers. It has been described as ‘like doing an MA in a week’.

If you have any particular needs around mobility or access you can identify these to us in advance, as the lab is built around the participants. If you are accepted onto the lab, we will call you beforehand to discuss the process with you and any particular questions you have.

Commitment level
You have to be able to commit to the whole week. It is not a course, it’s an intensive lab.

Professional Development, food and honorariums
This is a professional development opportunity to develop your practice. However, we acknowledge that equal access support is needed, to make this open to participants on lower incomes. We offer a flat rate honorarium of £300 to every participant. Food is covered for the duration of the lab.

Practice and process
The active reality approach aims to fold live performance, digital outputs and site specific production into new work. Artists are encouraged to work outside of their normal skill sets and consider wider producer models for making new work.

The lab will combine practical input from previous projects, with taught technical sessions. One day of the lab, will incorporate a site based session working with one of ARUP’s team members to see how LIDAR can be used to capture high resolution data and then be manipluated on other media (e.g VR). Alongside this artists are invited to reflect on their own practice and engage in a peer-to-peer environment.

Taught sessions will include an introduction to web based augmented reality using AR:JS, hands on developing with VR tools such as HTC Vive and work with sound. We will look at how to devise projects combining media to create impact and new work.

Artists do not have to have previous experience of technical tools and may arise from any artistic background and skill level.

Other notes
We will provide food but are not offering overnight accommodation for artists. You will be resident in the West Midlands area and able to attend for five days in Coventry.

There are 8 places available for the lab.


To Apply

Provide your full name, email address, telephone number and address.

Provide 500 words about the work you do and the challenges you face in your practice. Tell us about what you have been making in the last year and what you would do if you had the right resources. We are looking for artists at all career stages who want to find some new directions in their work. We particularly welcome applications from diverse candidates, or artists that have not followed a traditional art education track. (You do not need an art degree to apply.)

Places are limited for this lab but in rare circumstances we will consider artists who work as part of a shared practice (up to two people). If you apply as a duo, then provide one application for both people with relevant CV and imagery of shared practice.

Send us some web links or a digital portfolio (up to ten pages as PDF format). Please keep the file size under 15MB.

Please email applications (your 500 words and web links or digital portfolio) as a single PDF document to by 5pm on Wednesday 29 April 2020. Please include ‘Active Reality Research Lab’ in the email subject line.

If you have queries about the lab or application process you can email 

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