In February Laura Dicken was selected as the successful recipient of an International Bursary offered jointly by New Art West Midlands and GRAIN Projects and developed in partnership with Aarhus Billedkunstcenter / Aarhus Center for Visual Art (AaBKC) and Galleri Image.

Due to the pandemic, Laura was unfortunately unable to travel to Aarhus, Denmark to undertake the period of research supported by the bursary. However, we are pleased to be able to share an update on the opportunity:

You Are Another Me is an inclusive, socially engaged arts project which explores the experiences of women (and female identifying individuals) from a variety of backgrounds who have, for different reasons, migrated alone. Laura has developed this project with the support of the bursary award. She took an extended amount of time for research and development over the Summer to radically adjust her practice so that she can still co-author and co-create with participants in a meaningful way under the new remote circumstances brought on by Covid restrictions. This has been achieved by embracing platforms such as Zoom, Skype, email and WhatsApp. Working closely with the Aarhus Billedkunstcenter Project Manager, the artist has made connections with local organisations in Aarhus who support migrant women and has invited potential participants to take part in the project. Laura will still collaborate with participants through conversations, shared images and storytelling, but will now do so digitally rather than through in person workshops.

Laura was awarded the International Bursary 2020, to make work in collaboration with women in Aarhus, Denmark, to undertake a period of research supported by the bursary and to travel and meet with participants. Instead of being able to travel this year she has found creative solutions to continue working on her proposal remotely. As an artist who works almost exclusively with analogue techniques the digital shifts will significantly affect Laura’s output; instead of a series of analogue social documentary portraits, a multi-disciplinary approach has been adopted to create a series of digital portraits, allowing her to experiment with sound, moving image and photo montage animation.

Laura will be delivering an artists talk at Galleri Image and Aarhus Billedkunstcenter remotely in the new year.

An update on the International Bursary awarded to Laura Dicken earlier in the year. The bursary has been offered jointly by New Art West Midlands and GRAIN Projects and developed in partnership with Aarhus Billedkunstcenter / Aarhus Center for Visual Art (AaBKC) and Galleri Image.

Work by Laura Dicken

New Art West Midlands, Grain Projects, Aarhus Billedkunstcenter and Galleri Image are delighted to announce that Laura Dicken has been selected as the successful recipient of the International Bursary 2020. Laura will now undertake a period of research in Aarhus, Denmark, in March 2020.


Work by Laura Dicken

Laura’s research proposal was selected by representatives from each of the four organisations from a batch of very strong and exciting proposals. The panel were particularly impressed by the focused, specific approach Laura took to her proposal and by the clear case she made for the impact of the bursary upon the development of her practice.

Laura’s work ‘You Are Another Me’ explores migration through the lens of the female (and female identifying) experience. The project includes portraits and stories of women from a broad spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities who have, for various reasons, migrated alone. By facilitating the telling of these disparate stories she hopes to bring new voices to the migration narrative and to highlight not only the vast differences but to celebrate and illuminate the many similarities. Having worked with participants in Copenhagen, in a pilot of this project, Laura is now able to use her research methodologies to connect with communities in Aarhus, to promote understanding, compassion, international cooperation and collaboration.

Laura’s ongoing body of work is a series of projects which are collaborations with individuals, communities and arts organisations. Through her work Laura hopes to create opportunities for previously untold stories to be shared authentically and with agency. Her process is built around meaningful connection, conversation, workshops and photography. Laura is interested in illuminating the shared human experience and celebrating the extraordinary ordinary.


New Art West Midlands, Grain Projects, Aarhus Billedkunstcenter and Galleri Image are delighted to announce that Laura Dicken has been selected as the successful recipient of the International Bursary 2020.

Lily Wales, Las Vagueness, 2018. Work made following a GRAIN and New Art West Midlands Engine bursary research visit to Nevada, USA.

New Art West Midlands and GRAIN Projects are jointly offering a bursary of £2000 to an artist based in the West Midlands region.  The bursary is a significant international research opportunity to support professional development. 

We are seeking applications from artists working with photography to undertake research in Aarhus, Denmark.  This opportunity has been developed in partnership with Aarhus Billedkunstcenter / Aarhus Center for Visual Art (AaBKC) and Galleri Image, with a focus upon regional identity, international cooperation and exchange.


Lily Wales, Las Vagueness, 2018. Work made following a GRAIN and New Art West Midlands Engine bursary research visit to Nevada, USA.


Facilitated by our partners in Aarhus, the bursary of £2000 will enable the successful artist to work in the city and/or surrounding region between 9 and 15 March 2020. Accommodation is provided at Godsbanen, situated in central Aarhus and a key creative hub for the city.


Artists interested in submitting a proposal may want to consider:

– Relationships between the West Midlands and Central Jutland regions
– The status of Aarhus as a second city – like Birmingham – and conditions outside of a nation’s capital
– Peripheral communities or geographies within the urban or rural space
– Specific geographical, economic, political and cultural characteristics and concerns of communities in Denmark


The successful applicant will be expected to deliver an artist talk in Aarhus as part of AaBKC’s Social programme (a short introduction and discussion over breakfast for the art community). Additionally, you will need to prepare a brief evaluation report for the Grain and New Art West Midlands websites on your return.


The bursary is part of New Art West Midlands’ Engine programme led in conjunction with The New Art Gallery Walsall, and the GRAIN Projects Professional Development Programme.



Please apply via our online opportunities portal outlining how you would use the bursary and why this opportunity is crucial to your professional development. This should be accompanied by 3 images of recent work, your website details and your CV. Please include an indicative budget – accommodation is covered but your budget should include any fees, travel, subsistence and any other associated costs.


Access our online opportunities portal HERE

Deadline: 4pm on Monday 20 January




We are committed to widening access to our opportunities. Audio or video recorded applications may be submitted via Vimeo or YouTube by those facing barriers in applying. Financial support is available to support access costs relating to the application.

If you have any support requirements or would like to discuss this further, please do get in touch with: or telephone 0121 300 4309.


About New Art West Midlands

New Art West Midlands is the Contemporary Visual Arts Network for the region. Our purpose is to strengthen and develop the contemporary visual arts sector in the West Midlands, creating defining opportunities for West Midlands’ artists and curators, and working collectively to safeguard the future of artists and our sector.


About Grain Projects

GRAIN Projects is an arts organisation dedicated to commissioning, facilitating and delivering ambitious, engaging and high quality photography projects, commissions, events and exhibitions.  We produce new work in collaboration with artists, photographers and communities and collaborate with major partners here and internationally to engage and work with new audiences and participants. GRAIN is led by GRAIN Projects CIC, a unique and collaborative arts organisation, supported by Arts Council England and Birmingham City University.


About Galleri Image

Galleri Image is a non-profit exhibition space, which aims to promote high quality photo-based art by showing Danish and international photography and video art. Founded in 1977, the gallery is the longest running non-profit exhibition space for photographic art in Scandinavia, and for many years it was also the only photo gallery in Denmark. Over the past 40 years, Galleri Image has achieved an international reputation for its exhibitions and has contributed considerably to the recognition and understanding of photography as an important and independent medium in the world of visual art. Based in Aarhus, Denmark, and with free entry to all its shows, the gallery regularly hosts talks, discussions, seminars, workshops and guided exhibition tours. We actively seek to support young talents and frequently tour our exhibitions around the world.


About Aarhus Billedkunstcenter

Aarhus Center for Visual Art (Aarhus Billedkunstcenter, AaBKC) is an artist resource center serving visual artists in Denmark’s Central Jutland region. Based in Aarhus, Aarhus Center for Visual Art strengthens the local arts community by creating opportunities for networking and collaboration between artists and institutions, offering professional development services to artists, facilitating discourse and community outreach with public art events and hosting residencies for local and international artists and art professionals.





New Art West Midlands and GRAIN Projects are jointly offering a bursary of £2000 to an artist working with photography based in the West Midlands region. The bursary is a significant international research opportunity to support professional development activity in Aarhus, Denmark. Deadline: Monday 20 January

The Sower/ Aleppo Pine (2017), Fred Hubble.

Frederick Hubble: Hypha 
Launch: Friday 24 May 4pm – 7pm
Opening hours: 24 May – 7 June 2019
KH7artspace, Sydhavnsgade 7, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark


The Sower/ Aleppo Pine (2017), Frederick Hubble.

KH7artspace is delighted to present the first international solo exhibition by UK artist Frederick Hubble.

Through materials including glass, water, snow, chocolate, fish, wine, wood and brass, Hubble’s practice responds to place through sculpture, video, photography, performance, drawing and ephemeral gesture.

For Hypha, Hubble will transform the gallery with a body of new site-specific works that respond to the contexts of Aarhus and its surrounding areas.

Hypha takes its title from the branching filaments that form mycelium in fungi. Using this natural structure as a starting point, the exhibition brings together interconnected spaces, places and peoples.

 From the cool of the forests, to the saltiness of the sea and the blueness of the sky, Hypha explores climate, transit and the changing experiences of place that link Aarhus to the West Midlands region of central England.

The idea of the “foreigner” and the skewed Romantic ideals (both historic and contemporary) attached to international travel, the impact of tourism and the slow unfolding of time all play a part in the works produced for KH7.

Via Hypha, the gallery becomes a site of production, experimentation and display, with works made in anticipation of the exhibition, as a direct response to the site and after the exhibition ends as part of the ongoing legacy of Hubble’s practice.

Hypha is curated by UK-based curator and writer Anneka French, with critical curatorial support from artist Mette Boel.

Fred Hubble (b. 1993 Birmingham, UK) received his MA Fine Art from Birmingham School of Art, Birmingham City University, UK in 2016. Recent exhibitions include Forward, Medicine Gallery, Birmingham, curated by Ikon Gallery (2019); Silent Stage, Yaga Gathering, near Vilnius, Lithuania (2018); Firn, Asylum Gallery, Wolverhampton (2018); Slow Cooker, Stryx, Birmingham (2017); Lunch at the Nipple Dome, Art Licks, London (2017) and The Twin, Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art (upcoming). He has undertaken residencies at JOYA Arte + Ecologia, Sierra Maria, Almeria, Spain and at Stryx, Birmingham (both 2017).
The exhibition is generously supported by Aarhus Kulturudviklingspulje

New Art West Midlands alumni artist Frederick Hubble is currently showing at KH7artspace, Aarhus, Denmark. Curated by our Project Co-ordinator Anneka French, Hypha is Fred’s first international solo exhibition.

Kunsthal Aarhus with Jillian Mayer’s ‘Slumpies’ in the foreground

In late 2017, I was selected for research project ‘Traverse’, with New Art West Midlands and Aarhus Billedkunstcenter. This project asked ‘What does it mean to be an artist working outside of your country’s capital region?’, and I was paired up with Aarhus based artist Mette Boel, to discuss our experiences and needs. We spoke at length over Skype and across email, the results of which can be accessed here.

Following this virtual activity, Aarhus Billedkunstcenter (AaBKC) invited me to visit Aarhus, and further develop my relationship with the city and the artists and organisations working there. While in Denmark, I also proposed to visit Copenhagen, as further food for thinking about capital city working and also to maximize the reach of the trip.

My initial plans to spend 3 days in Aarhus turned into a week, and the planned summer 2018 visit turned into April 2019, due to having a baby and taking maternity leave. My partner and baby came too. The week in Aarhus was a mix of visiting its many galleries and museums, meeting with artists in studios and curators, and getting a more general feel for Aarhus life. I was hosted by Aarhus Billedkunstcenter and their International Project Curator, Pamela Grombacher.

Aarhus is Denmark’s second city, like Birmingham, but considerably smaller in size and population. The major art centre there however, is huge. ARoS has 5 floors of galleries and a giant Olafur Eliasson permanent artwork ‘Your Rainbow Panorama’ and feat of engineering that has transparent coloured panels that leak all over the city. Its one of the numerous ways in which Aarhus presents itself as a city that values culture, and this flagship art centre, while I felt it was not particularly loved by artists working in Aarhus, is understood as being a destination for visitors and an advertisement of cultural investment.

I met with Jacob Fabricius, Director at Kunsthal Aarhus, and spoke about the ethos of the organisation and the arts in Denmark more broadly, as well as my own practice and the Traverse research project. I was really excited by the Kunsthal building, which began as a modest space, and has expanded horizontally and vertically at different times. I loved the sculpture garden that surrounds Kunsthal Aarhus, and particularly these fiberglass sculptures by Jillian Mayer.

Kunsthal Aarhus with Jillian Mayer’s ‘Slumpies’ in the foreground


Godsbanen is a production centre for ‘cultural entrepreneurs’, with wood, print, metal, ceramic (etc.!) workshops, offices for creative industries and music and theatre performance spaces. AaBKC have their office in the building, and Mette is starting up a new subsidized studio group with peers on site soon too. This publicly accessible production facility makes it feasible to make a variety of works in the city without needing to travel 4hrs to Copenhagen.

Tina Oxager spoons for sale in Godsbanen


We took a trip to Moesgaard Museum, 30 minutes out of Aarhus centre, which is a museum of Danish archeology and ethnography. It houses a vast amount of stuff, and the experience of displays and interpretation is highly choreographed: galleries have starry night skies, sound tracks, squashy bog-like floors and more. There were many wonderful artifacts and armatures to look at as research for my work.

Moesgaard Museum


The Friday night of my visit was coincidentally a warm evening with an unprecedented number of openings and events. Among others, I visited Charlotte Fogh, one of Aarhus’ commercial spaces with an exhibition by Aarhus based Julie Stavad, and the opening of large group exhibition ‘Tomorrow is the Question’, at ARoS.

Charlotte Fogh Gallery


Mette and I presented the findings of our Traverse project at AaBKC Social event while I was there. We spoke to a group of artists and public in KH7 studios, which Mette cofounded and where her studio is currently based. It was really useful to revisit the data and our findings from Traverse a year later, to check in about how things have shifted. Invited to the discussion were members of the Aarhus artist community who have recently relocated there from elsewhere, as well as longstanding members. Mette and I are now discussing how to further develop and disseminate this research to have a broader reach and impact.

I did studio visits with artists including Anne-Sophie Overgaard, Tanja Nellemann Poulson and Kamilla Jørgensen, and caught up with Mette about her practice. It was a great opportunity to talk practice, career trajectories and to explore whether works by Danish artists could be included as part of my online project Studio Outlet, which sells things made by artists.

Nyhavn, Copenhagen


In Copenhagen I visited Kunsthal Charlottenborg, which was presenting Europa Endlos, a group show about current events in European politics. I was struck by such a historic gallery and art school being so close to Copenhagen’s tourist hotspot of Nyhavn.

I visited artists Jason Dungan and Maria Zahle, who moved to Copenhagen from London five years ago. They have a beautiful home with studios attached, and it was a great opportunity to understand how Copenhagen operates for resident artists rather than the surface that’s experienced as visiting tourists.

While it’s simplistic to think about Aarhus and Copenhagen in a comparison of either this one or that one, and having only spent a couple of days in Copenhagen, it was easily Aarhus that stole my heart and suggested that it could be worthwhile to relocate there. Like Birmingham, in Aarhus I can see how it’s possible to work as an artist and live as a human, with other interests and a family, but Aarhus comes with the enviable Danish quality of life that no amount of artist-run spaces being setup in the grass roots of a city can amount to without top-level investment and provision of infrastructure.

The trip was a great marker of the beginning of my return to work post maternity leave, and offered energizing relationships and reminders of being part of a welcoming global community of artists. I’m looking into ways for my family and I to spend a more substantial amount of time in Denmark.

Joanne Masding reports from her recent visits to Aarhus and Copenhagen, Denmark, the result of an Engine Micro Bursary and the follow up to Traverse #2, a dialogue and research exchange devised in collaboration between New Art West Midlands and Aarhus Billedkunstcenter.

Research by artists Mette Boel (DK) and Joanne Masding (UK)
Organised in collaboration with Aarhus Billedkunstcenter (DK)

What does it mean to be an artist working outside of your country’s capital region? This is the main question behind the second edition of Traverse, Aarhus Billedkunstcenter’s research programme exploring artists’ working conditions across cultures. For this project, Aarhus Billedkunstcenter partnered with New Art West Midlands to consider the impact of peripheral geographies on artists’ working lives. We wanted to know, what challenges do regional artists face? What opportunities arise? How can we better support artists working outside of the cultural centre?

Mette Boel (DK) and Joanne Masding (UK) were selected via open call to explore these and other questions. Over the course of two months, the artists engaged in a lengthy written exchange examining their working lives in depth, considering a range of topics stemming from the theme of periphery. The following excerpt reveals how the twists and turns of their correspondence steer our collective research in unexpected directions.

Mette and Joanne broadened their research by surveying five artists from each of their respective cities, asking the artists to identify how they got their most recent work opportunities. Did the artists develop their own projects, did the projects evolve within their networks, or were they invited to participate in projects unexpectedly?

What structures do you build to facilitate the right headspace and working conditions?

Mette Boel: I don’t actually know if I have a specific way of working. I have both worked on exhibitions having no space to physically work and prepare in and therefore working mostly in my head and then I’ve also had periods of having much more physical space. Both things work for me. I think London for me was very much a very long exercise in adaption, being able to shift and being able to work from the onset of a feeling or mood or desire much more than working through material investigations as an example. After moving to Aarhus I have much more space than I ever had in London, this have prompted me to be more physically involved for longer stretches of time in my research and working process. This is important as I am trying to spend as much time in my studio making work as possible.

Some of the things I do to get in the right headspace is reading and writing and trying to reach an open and intuitive space within myself. I sometimes close my eyes and keep them closed until I can see quite clearly the work I want to create. This doesn’t work all the time. I try and get into where the flavour sits, the gist, the heart of it all. Because I make suggestive work and it for me is more a case of wanting to create a mood or a space, than for instance delivering a message or pushing a point I tend to dwell on things, keep them a bit open. Theory means a lot to me, but its something sitting on my backbone, something that is there as a base for thinking, reflecting and reacting and creating. It is not always predominant in the work itself.

Joanne Masding: To make good work, it’s important for me to live a life where being an artist is my job. I have gradually worked towards being in the position I am now in, where it is my main activity and how I earn a living, and I’m more productive when I can spend a fairly traditional proportion of my week at work. On the whole, this means not working during the evenings and at weekends, and having holiday. Spending the majority of my time in the studio on my own suits me well.I’ve been trying to build a solid studio practice, where I continue making work consistently, rather than making for opportunities when they arise. As part of this, I make the best work when I can allow things to resolve quite slowly. The pressure to know immediately what work is and what it’s doing can be stifling, whereas making room for being playful and unknowing usually leads somewhere more fruitful. Taking on new ways of working, whether process, material or form, takes some recalibration, so for this particularly I need room to understand how various components are behaving.

What is the best starting point for building a show?

Mette Boel: When I do my large total-installations, the space is crucial to me, the way it looks and feels. I like a closed space, so the mood does not seep out through cracks and doorways. I like things to be contained. I do not come along these spaces too often, which means that I only do large-scale installations maybe once a year. I feel like a big show a year is a good amount for me. I always need some time to contemplate my decisions and the shows general feel. And of course, it is always a quite costly affair to put on these shows, so it is important that there is enough time, to get the funding for realizing the show.

Another thing is time. Time is very important; to have time enough to develop the work so that it becomes something that takes up a place in my consciousness as something, which was really there, which existed. Something that stretched above the work and the space and the time it was on display. Potential for expansion, is very important to me. I like it when a work or a show leads to something new. For instance new collaborations, extensions of existing work ore new thoughts and ways of working.  This is why collaborations are important. To work with good people, and people whom I trust and who trusts me. The work must also demand its space, it need to be emphasized by a necessity to become. To be brought into the world so to speak.

Joanne Masding: The most successful shows that I’ve made have had a long lead-in time. As I’ve said, making new things is usually slow, and I often work with the materiality of the exhibition space, which also benefits from a longer timeframe. It can be challenging to talk about new work when I’m in the midst of it, and I’m still working out how to use curatorial/organisational support during this part of the process. Collaborations in this sense can be fruitful, but I build relationships slowly and it takes a lot of time before I can communicate easily. It’s ideal when I feel trusted to do what I do, and supported without too much need for tying things down early. Making shows is a really exciting part of being an artist, and the point when I properly get to experience the work for the first time. This is a high-risk scenario! I enjoy installing work, and in a dream world would have time to sit quietly with the work while I’m making an exhibition. Working with tech teams is relatively new to me, and I’m still practicing being decisive out loud.

What does recognition mean to you?

Mette Boel: Recognition is a funny one. I am all right with saying that I want the recognition. Its a bit of a high for me, its my drug. I’m addicted to it a little bit. And all addiction is bad in a way. I wouldn’t say however that recognition is the biggest driving force but like all other jobs, it’s great to do well and to be recognized for the work you do.
I sometimes come across people who have this idea that artists are doing art because they can’t help it. Like it’s some divine power running out the arm and into the hand, gods send in a way. That might be true for some artists, that it is a type of calling. To me it’s very much a decision. This is my life; this is what I enjoy the most. I put all my energy into it because I want to succeed. Creativity is probably an urge, like an itch, you have to do it. But to do it professionally, that’s a decision.

Joanne Masding: We quickly enter into psychological territory when talking about making work! Being an artist is a strange job. I’m making progress when it comes to the mental impact of being critical of your own activities – being regularly rejected and seeing peers go along their own trajectories – but it’s still hard. There is usually a voice wondering whether it’s enough, or good enough, and it can take effort to hear the other voice that knows you’re working hard and doing what’s needed. The critical voice can be useful to a point for being spurred on, and receiving recognition from elsewhere can too. I try not to compare recognition I receive – feedback, show invites or reviews – to what anyone else is getting. Instead I try to put effort into keeping my focus on where I’m at, what I want to happen next, and what I’m enjoying, rather than getting sucked into assessing myself against other people’s CVs. I’m not looking for an astronomical rise and celebrity art career. If I can keep making work, keep working as an artist and keep progressing, I think that will be recognition enough.

How do you have critical conversations about your work and how are they critical to your development?

Mette Boel: Since being out of education I haven’t had as many critical conversations as I used to I guess. But I think it is a good thing. Instead of constantly being asked critical questions and being asked to position myself against other artists or ways of being an artist, I have more focus on my own work. However, that is not to say that critical conversations are not important to me. They are hugely important, but the situations in which I have these conversations must be real. Not awkward and superficial. I prefer a good old one to one conversation. Maybe it has to do a little bit with being in control. If I want to, I can ask an artist or a curator to come for a studio-visit. I can choose who and when and I really appreciate not having to talk about my work at stages where it is not ready to be talked about.

Joanne Masding: Always needing to translate things into language can be tricky. I put pressure on myself when I’m making anyway, so I’ve been trying to find the best ways to get critical input that’s also supportive. I’ve recently been a participant in alternative post-graduate education programme School of the Damned, which involved lots of group crits in the same vein as art school. It’s through experiences such as this that I’ve been working out what I need and what I respond to best. I don’t like having to justify work to a group, and compete against big personalities for air space. Instead I love one-on-one conversations that are critically supportive and energizing and that send me off on new tangents and with more thoughts. I’m trying to build genuine relationships with people who I share common interests with, then I can have supportive conversations reflecting on work that are both useful and enjoyable, and don’t cripple confidence.Working in a fairly small community of artists in the city, I have friends and peers who have an understanding of my practice and who I can talk to about making and work quandaries. While I love working alone, knowing that I’m part of this group is reassuring.

What does ambition mean to you? How do you feel about being ambitious? How are you ambitious? How does ambition affect the work?

Mette Boel: To be ambitious is not something I feel like I choose to be. It is something that is just there as a premise and a need for being able to work the way I do and with the things and people I do. Whether or not it is healthy to be ambitious is another thing. For me it is definitely important to be clear on for whom I am ambitious. Is it for myself and is it a drive that I need to keep my practice running or am I ambitious because I need recognition from people outside of myself, and my practice. I try and channel my ambition into focus on my work and the things that happen in my studio. At times I try and keep a bit to myself, to just work and not look to hard at what everyone else around me are doing.

Joanne Masding: I feel conflicted about the idea of being ambitious. In one respect I agree with needing drive to push ideas, develop and shift out of getting too comfortable, but in another I’m conscious of ambitious being a stand-in for bigger, louder, harder, and this doesn’t fit well with my personality and the tone of my work.I’m also aware of the pressure to be ambitious, and hear it talked about particularly in relation to younger artists. It’s a quality that I feel that I’m judged against, and I think this can lead to feeling as though there’s a rush to achieve certain things, such as a first solo exhibition, rather than being able to focus on making the best work.



Notes on tactics and things that have worked for others

  • Expand network by working as technician/exhibition photographer
  • Have a specific way of working/area of interest and be a good fit
  • Apply to open calls when friends are judges
  • Keep up long relationships, get another show when curator moves
  • Initiate through network of contacts – use network pro-actively
  • Invite people to the studio
  • One show leads to another – invite curators to meet in the show


See the artists’ original survey data here.

Research by artists Mette Boel (DK) and Joanne Masding (UK), organised by New Art West Midlands in collaboration with Aarhus Billedkunstcenter (DK) on working outside the perceived centre and what that means for practice. An Engine professional development opportunity.

Joanne Masding, New Rehang (series 3), 2016 Pages from book 'The British Museum', sparkling laser hologram clear rhino skin car wrap vinyl, plaster

Aarhus Billedkunstcenter (Denmark) and New Art West Midlands Engine* are delighted to present the second edition of Traverse – Connecting International Art Communities. Traverse is a research programme that promotes critical dialogue about artists’ working conditions through long-distance communication between visual artists and arts organisations from all over the world.

Joanne Masding, New Rehang (series 3), 2016. Pages from book ‘The British Museum’, sparkling laser hologram clear rhino skin car wrap vinyl, plaster


Artists Joanne Masding (UK) and Mette Boel (DK) have been selected to begin a dialogue exploring the impact of peripheral geographies on artists’ working lives. The selection panel were impressed with the strength and curiosity of their proposed approaches to the topic and the fruitful research possibilities that these conversations might offer.

Like the West Midlands, the city of Aarhus in Denmark’s Central Jutland region, is geographically removed from the country’s cultural capital; Copenhagen boasts a higher concentrations of artists, arts institutions, funding pools and other vital resources. Over the next five weeks, Masding and Boel will discuss these issues online and in person, asking if and how working outside of the capital as cultural hotspot might offer up different opportunities for local artists.

Mette Boel ‘Simulacrum (Artist Portraits)’ 2016, kh7artspace. H: 400 cm x B:100 cm x 5. Digital collage on Tricot, metal pipes, yellow nylon string, metal hooks.


For more information on Traverse and Aarhus Billedkunstcenter, please visit


*Engine is the artist and curator professional development programme led by New Art West Midlands and The New Art Gallery Walsall.


We announce the artists selected for Traverse: Connecting International Art Communities – Joanne Masding (UK) and Mette Boel (DK).

Christina Schultz, Young Boy Dive, 2017

Aarhus Billedkunstcenter (Denmark) and New Art West Midlands present the second edition of Traverse – Connecting International Art Communities.

Traverse is a research programme that promotes critical dialogue about artists’ working conditions through long-distance communication between visual artists and arts organisations from all over the world.

Christina Schultz, Young Boy Dive, 2017


Application deadline: 5pm, 22 September 2017
Project dates: 2 October – 1 December 2017
Time commitment: 25 hours
Artist fee: £675.00


With this edition of Traverse, Aarhus Billedkunstcenter and New Art West Midlands’ Engine* explore the impact of peripheral geographies on artists’ working lives.

Like the West Midlands, the city of Aarhus in Denmark’s Central Jutland region, is geographically removed from the country’s cultural capital; Copenhagen boasts a higher concentrations of artists, arts institutions, funding pools and other vital resources. But can working outside of the capital as cultural hotspot offer up different opportunities for local artists?

New Art West Midlands is now seeking one artist based in the West Midlands to explore this topic in collaboration with an artist based in Aarhus. Possible research questions include:

  • What does it mean to be an artist working outside of your country’s capital region?
  • How do the specific geographical, economic, political, and cultural characteristics of your city, town or village impact the working conditions for local artists?
  • What impact does regional identity have on your working life?
  • Do artists from peripheral geographies develop a kind of cultural “accent”?
  • Can you imagine any programmes, initiatives or services that would improve the ways in which peripheral geographies shape your working life?

Participating artists will be asked to engage in talk-based critical dialogue over a 5-week period (20 hours, Skype or phone), and to collaborate with administrative staff to document the content and outcomes of this dialogue online (5 hours).

Please note that Traverse is a research programme with a focus on learning and communication, rather than artistic production. Successful applications will propose research questions and topics for critical discourse.

To apply, please email the following application materials as a single PDF by 5pm 22 September 2017 to

  • Statement of intent (max. 500 words)
  • CV (1 page)
  • Images of 3 recent works


For more information on Traverse and Aarhus Billedkunstcenter, please visit

Please direct questions to Anneka French:


*Engine is the artist and curator professional development programme led by New Art West Midlands and The New Art Gallery Walsall.




Aarhus Billedkunstcenter (Denmark) and New Art West Midlands present the second edition of Traverse – Connecting International Art Communities. Read more about our artist open call exploring the impact of peripheral geographies on artists’ working lives.

Leah Carless, an artist based in Smethwick with a space at Birmingham’s Studio Capri, reflects on her recent research trip to Aarhus, Denmark, part funded by the New Art West Midlands Engine Micro Bursary scheme.

The Micro Bursary I received from New Art West Midlands enabled me to spend additional time in Aarhus in December 2016 in the lead up to a group exhibition I’m Every Woman. The exhibition ran 8-22 December 2016 at KH7 artspace. During this period I was able to spend time testing ideas, making new work, installing an exhibition and meeting artists and curators based in Aarhus. 

I arrived in Aarhus on Friday 2 December around 3pm. The first thing I noticed was how low the sun hangs in the sky. It’s on the same latitude as Edinburgh but there is a beautiful deep orange glow everywhere and it seems to touch everything around. The airport is tiny considering Aarhus is Denmark’s second largest city. Immediately I was struck by how everything seems to move much slower here – the commuters out of the airport, the airport transfer bus to the city. I later find out that there is currently a lot of debate about the airport and how it doesn’t really serve the city as needed. There is a ferry that links the city to Copenhagen and most use this as a means of transport. Aarhus has one of the largest ports in Northern Europe and the industry surrounding the port spreads across most of the city’s coast – one end the container bases and the ferry port at the other in the new development area.

KH7 artspace
KH7 artspace is a former factory building on the industrial side of the port. Most of the factories are in use and in this sense there seems to be a lot in common with Birmingham. The building is huge – three floors in total. The first two floors are studios and the top floor is KH7’s gallery. There is a large communal kitchen area. The studios are very clean. The spaces are so different to my experience of studios. They are more private, as each studio is located off a corridor and has a locking door. Some artists share, some have an entire studio to themselves. I was interested to find out how artists make their work as there seemed to be little equipment in the studio areas. I found that most of the manufacturing of works is done at a place called Godsbanen in the workshops. On the website it is described as a ‘centre of cultural production’ – one of its functions is to provide facilities for artists to make work out of a variety of materials including metal, wood and ceramics.  I was told that this is an affordable way to make work and how most artists produce work in Aarhus.

KH7 is the only artist run space in the city. There was a lot of excitement when I arrived as KH7 had just received their first grant for 2017. The artists hope to use this funding to cover exhibiting artist fees and travel to enable more international artists to exhibit in Aarhus. The gallery space is currently run by the studio artists. Money is generated by studio rent and each artist is given a slot in the gallery for their own use to test ideas, to invite other artists to exhibit and to work with the community or for educational purposes. It will be really interesting to see how the space develops next year with the new funding package.

The artists I am exhibited with are Mette Boel (DK), Nat Bloch-Gregersen (DK), Janina Lange (DE) and Matilde Mørk (DK). I got to spend time with all of the artists during my trip.

Nat and I spent a lot of time discussing our individual practices and found there were lots of overlaps in the materials we were using.  Nat has also just completed her MA this year so I found out a little bit about the differences and similarities between the UK and Denmark from that perspective. Nat studied at the Kunstakademi in Aarhus and I was really interested to find out that this is the first year that people have decided to stay on in Aarhus, not make the move to Copenhagen as in previous years.

As a group we had many interesting discussions about the show and all of the decisions that were made in the run up to the exhibition were made collectively.

I also met Matilde, who is a final year student at Kunstakademi. She has a fascinating practice and is very interested in gestural dance as a means of communication beyond speech. We shared some interesting discussions on the role of feminism within the exhibition we were working on, as well as in a wider cultural context.

During the entire week I worked very closely with Mette, who had invited me to be part of the exhibition. We had many conversations about the large scale installation she exhibited, about the curating of the show and the ideas behind it. This relationship continues as we are planning to each write a reflective piece of writing on the exhibition to use for our next group exhibition proposal.

I also met a brilliant artist called Louise Sparr. I got to spend some time in her studio and she came up to visit me in the gallery space whilst I was making test pieces. We chatted about the feminine, skins, membranes and materials. Whilst talking to Louise about my work and showing her images we began to talk about eggshells, a conversation that later informed the work I made for the exhibition.

I also met two of the three women that run the Rendezvous artspace. They have been working as a nomadic curatorial platform, making exhibitions in various locations around Aarhus and archiving these online. They have a large online presence on social media and a website archive. They were also pleased to have recently received funding to open a gallery space in Aarhus.

Work and tests
During the first few days in Aarhus I had time to make some small tests, experimenting mainly with colour in the space. I had planned on making another version of a previous work titled Full to the Brim. I found by making this work in situ, being able to make it using materials and dimensions specific to the gallery space meant that the second time in making this work there was more attention to detail and the work became more refined.

The edges were cleaner in this work, it was more controlled and less amorphous than previous works in this series. I’m not sure whether this was because I am now becoming more adept at my process or that I noticed more attention is paid to detail in Denmark. For example, when preparing for the exhibition, I noticed that AV wires were being fixed to the floor and wall using individual tacks, a much more time consuming but visually pleasing task than using electrical tape.

I was also very happy to bring a new material into my work – eggshells. I had previously used traces of older works, broken works or failed works but after a really interesting discussion with another artist and looking through images, we found similarities to eggshells in the works’ concept and material. I intend to continue using eggshells in future works.

The future
In the short time I spent and the few people I met in Aarhus I felt that I got a really good insight into what it’s like to be an artist living and working there. Aarhus has lots of connections to Copenhagen, as Birmingham to London but there seems to be more young people staying on in Aarhus after completing their education there. There are small pockets of young artists and curators doing lots of different things. Private views are well attended by the regular art crowd but there is also support from larger galleries.

Whilst on my trip I met two small collectives that had just received funding from the Danish Arts Council and with Aarhus being European City of Culture in 2017, this will hopefully continue to develop the artistic activity in the city and I look forward to following how it develops there over the next year.

Leah Carless reflects on her recent research trip to Aarhus, Denmark, part funded by the New Art West Midlands Engine Micro Bursary scheme.