We are delighted to announce the eight artists selected for our forthcoming Active Reality Research Lab, developed by New Art West Midlands, working with Coventry City of Culture Trust, ARUP and artist Simon Poulter.

We received a large number of excellent applications from all over the region. In our selection, we have chosen artists working across art forms including visual arts, graphic design, performance, sound, bio-art and other hybrid forms of practice. We hope that the artists taking part will be able to learn from each other as much as from the activities they undertake and from the expertise of the facilitation team.

The artists taking part in the lab are: Carol Breen, Matt Eaton, Helen Kilby-Nelson, Namratha Jacob, Edie-Jo Murray, Priti Patel, Rosa Postlethwaite and Laurie Ramsell.

The lab will take place online (or partly on-site should government restrictions permit and should artists feel comfortable to be on site in Coventry physically) from 13-17 July 2020.

We are delighted to announce the eight artists selected for our forthcoming Active Reality Research Lab, developed by New Art West Midlands, working with Coventry City of Culture Trust, ARUP and artist Simon Poulter.

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 info@newartwestmidlands.co.uk 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 info@newartwestmidlands.co.uk 

The deadline has now been extended for the Active Reality Research Lab, developed by New Art West Midlands, working with Coventry City of Culture Trust, ARUP and artist Simon Poulter. The lab dates will be rescheduled for later in the year. Dates to be confirmed.

Join us at our six ‘expedition’ events to explore the extremities of artistic practice in the region.

Led by New Art West Midlands, The Outer Limits programme for artists explores the extremities of artistic practice – seeking out the far and distant places that make visual art in the midlands distinct and encouraging peer interaction.

Our six ‘expeditions’ will cover topics ranging from new artist opportunities all the way through to the cult of biennials. They will ask what is needed to safeguard the future of artists in the region, drawing upon national and regional speakers, key venues around the West Midlands and most importantly open minds.

All of these events are an opportunity for you to engage with us at New Art West Midlands, to moonshot our future work and boldly go beyond the current limits. The conversations we have will inform the West Midlands visual arts strategy and become the blueprint for our future programmes and advocacy work.

Keynote speakers at each of the events will catalyse the debate before we hand over to the people in the room to respond. Benefits to you as an artist include direct engagement with and impact on New Art West Midlands’ future programme, meeting other artists and discussing your work, and finding out about current opportunities. Plus, we will be issuing a New Art West Midlands limited edition badge (yes, seriously).

Leading us through The Outer Limits is artist Simon Poulter who will facilitate each session with Director of New Art West Midlands, Craig Ashley. New Art West Midlands’ Advisory and Executive Group members will also be in attendance. If you have to something to say, we want to hear it.


Event #1 ‘Setting the scene’ at AirSpace Gallery (Stoke on Trent)
Tuesday 19 September, 2 – 4pm

How to be successful as an artist. Sign up to join this event which will focus on the raw materials and engine of being ‘successful’ in your practice. We will be looking at core concerns for artists at all career stages, including insights by practising artists. What does a good gig look like? How do we Play Nicely in the art world and get proper reward and contracting for what we do? What rates of pay are current and workable for artists in the market place in 2017? We will be joined by Ryan Hughes (Director, Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art) and Dan Thompson (artist, writer, speaker) to discuss these matters. The session will be an opportunity to gain valuable insights into how other artists work and input your own experiences.

Book here


Event #2 ‘F@ck this Sh/t’ at The Hive (Shrewsbury)
Wednesday 20 September, 11am – 1pm

How to take on the universe and make it listen. Sign up to connect with us and make some change happen within the grand new abnormal. We will be exploring the context of how artists respond to fundamental shifts in the political space, examples of disobedience and the fakery of the ‘disruptive’ economy. This session is about marginality, voices of otherness and a real opportunity to contextualise artistic practice as a response. We invite artists to debate and devise beyond the social media silos, with the intention of informing New Art West Midlands’ future programme. This session will include opening talks by prominent artists Noëmi Lakmaier and Ann Whitehurst, as well as the stuff you bring with you. Presented in partnership with DASH.

Book here

Event #3 ‘Out there’ at Vivid Projects (Birmingham)
Friday 6 October, 2 – 4pm

We explore the Outer Limits of digital space and the current thinking in digital culture. What mixed reality methods lie in wait for the artists of the new millennium? How can we bust through barriers to make new tools have some meaning? This session explores next generation ‘radical’ art, physical and digital realities – what is out there to be explored? Artists discuss tape machines, VR as painting, sci-art, bio-art, coding, experience design and user interaction. We will have two speakers on board for this mission – Gina Czarnecki and Laurie Ramsell.

Book here


Event #4 ‘Bring it on’ at Worcester Arts Workshop
Thursday 12 October, 11am – 1pm

You live in the West Midlands, you want to stay but what opportunities are there? In this session we invite artists and arts educators to explore the elephant in the room – retention of talent. This is a rapid build satellite session discussing recent development initiatives, new commissions, access to technical resources and partnerships across business, the funded sector and arts education. We will be hearing opening talks by self-organisers Emma Chetcutti and Lara Ratnaraja who will frame the discussion on how to sustain practice where you are. We also want to hear your ideas on the problems you face in working in the region.

Book here


Event #5 ‘Far Out-ness’ at The New Art Gallery Walsall
Friday 13 October, 11am – 1pm

‘Far out-ness’ is commonly associated with the post WW2 avant garde and jazz movements. Within this session we invite you to join us to discuss the position of art-making in the brave new world. This event is all about practice, presentation and making. Hosted at The New Art Gallery Walsall, we contextualise how West Midlands-based artists can shape and form their practice and process. What contexts are now available to artists? Gallery, web or public space? Our two speakers – Ruth Catlow and Gavin Wade – focus vanguard debates and we then connect in the talent in the room. This is suitable for early career, emerging and hybrid practitioners (artist curators for example). This event will be live streamed.

Book here


Event #6 ‘Cut and paste’ at the Coventry Evening Telegraph Building
Friday 20 October, 11am – 1pm

Biennial art has become synonymous with internationalism, neo-liberalism and globalisation. Would it be cool to rock up with a smart phone and shoot a new film in each major city you visit with some locals and then get on the next plane? What makes a new biennial – responsive, embedded and tailored to its locality? Or is this the wrong question? Located within the Coventry Biennial events and exhibitions programme, we invite artists from across the West Midlands (and beyond) to conduct a debate on art, instrumentalism and next-generation biennials. We will be assisted in this session by Roney Fraser Munroe and Mike Stubbs, who will give us reality checks on the cult of the biennial and more. Book early for this session.

Book here





Led by New Art West Midlands, The Outer Limits programme for artists explores the extremities of artistic practice – seeking out the far and distant places that make visual art in the midlands distinct and encouraging peer interaction through 6 events across the region.