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Artist in residence explores university roots for national touring exhibition


Wolverhampton has been selected as the opening city for next year’s prestigious British Art Show 9 – and one of the artists selected to exhibit is already finding his feet as an Artist in Residence at the University of Wolverhampton.

Hayward Gallery Touring, which organises contemporary art exhibitions at galleries, museums and other publicly funded venues throughout Britain, has announced the new dates and full list of artists for British Art Show 9 - the biggest touring exhibition of contemporary art in the UK.

The exhibition will travel to Wolverhampton Art Gallery and the Wolverhampton School of Art (6 March - 30 May 2021), before it heads to Aberdeen (3 July - 3 October 2021), Plymouth (6 November 2021 - 13 March 2022) and Manchester (6 May - 4 September 2022). 

Mark Essen, an Artist, Project Designer and Educator based in Birmingham, will have work on display at the exhibition. He is currently an AA2A Artist in Residence in the School of Art.

The AA2A project is a national set of schemes, providing visual artists and designer makers with the opportunity to undertake a period of research or realise a project, using workshop and supporting facilities in fine art and design departments of Higher and Further Education institutions.

Mark Essen said: “The University of Wolverhampton can trace its roots back to 1835 when it was formerly the Wolverhampton Mechanics' Institute and School of Art and I’m interested in exploring these roots through my residency.

“The British Art Show coming to Wolverhampton is really important for the City and across the West Midlands region. This show comes to Wolverhampton at a time when culture has a potential to lead a trajectory towards social rehabilitation within post-coronavirus life. 

“Working with the University is an opportunity to explore its past and it’s also a chance to address the many changes we need to make for the future and a cultural investment for people in the area.”

Mark studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art and Fine Art at Birmingham City University. His projects include;  Modern Clay - a socially engaged ceramic studio coop based in Digbeth, Birmingham; Utopia Bricks, Social enterprise brickworks;   Hinterlands – Canal and River trust commission program Birmingham Mainline canal in Birmingham and Sandwell, and he is also associate artist with the Growing Project, Grand Union. 

He is a founding member of artist-run space Grand Union in Birmingham and has participated in residency programmes at Wysing Arts Centre, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, The New Gallery Walsall, Doremifasolasido - Florence Arts Centre, UK-Korea exchange co-ordinated by Grizedale Arts & Wysing Arts Centre and Wolverhampton University. He has exhibited work at Jerwood Space London, Workplace Gateshead, Tate St Ives, Hauser & Wirth, Somerset and also the New Contemporaries.

The British Art 9 exhibition is renowned for its high volume of visitors to its touring cities and is widely recognised as a significant marker of recent developments in contemporary art, unrivalled in its scope and national reach.

British Art Show 8 attracted over 300,000 visitors in its tour to four cities from October 2015 to January 2017.British Art Show 9 curators Irene Aristizábal and Hammad Nasar were selected by a panel of curators from the Hayward Gallery and the participating cities. They bring international experience to the role and have both worked on major exhibitions in the UK, Europe, America and Asia. The exhibition introduces visitors to over 40 artists practising in Britain over the past five years, providing an insight into contemporary life at an extraordinary period in our history. 



The artists in British Art Show 9 are:

Hurvin Anderson

Michael Armitage

Simeon Barclay

Oliver Beer

Zach Blas

Kathrin Böhm

Maeve Brennan

James Bridle

Helen Cammock

Than Hussein Clark

Cooking Sections (Alon Schwabe & Daniel Fernández Pascual)

Jamie Crewe

Oona Doherty

Sean Edwards

Mandy El-Sayegh

Mark Essen


Beatrice Gibson

Patrick Goddard

Anne Hardy

Celia Hempton

Andy Holden

Joey Holder

Marguerite Humeau

Lawrence Lek

Ghislaine Leung

Paul Maheke

Elaine Mitchener

Oscar Murillo

Grace Ndiritu

Uriel Orlow

Hardeep Pandhal

Hetain Patel

Florence Peake

Heather Phillipson

Joanna Piotrowska

Abigail Reynolds

Margaret Salmon

Hrair Sarkissian

Katie Schwab

Tai Shani

Marianna Simnett

Victoria Sin

Hanna Tuulikki

Caroline Walker

Alberta Whittle

Rehana Zaman


Maggie Ayliffe, Head of Wolverhampton School of Art, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting the first leg of British Art Show 9 in Wolverhampton.

“We are looking forward to welcoming many visitors to the iconic Wolverhampton School of Art. There will be a wealth of opportunities for new audiences, students, school children and the artist community to come and engage with some of the most exciting contemporary art being produced in the UK today.

“It will also be an opportunity to talk to the artists who are creating visuals and giving voice to some of the most pressing concerns of our times. We can’t wait for the conversation to begin in Wolverhampton.”

Image Credits:

Lawrence Lek

2065 [still]


HD Video, stereo sound duration: 5 min

© Lawrence Lek, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London


Elaine Mitchener,
Sweet Tooth, 2020
Courtesy: the artist
Photo by Brian Roberts


Video Still Oliver Beer, Vessel Orchestra - Nico Muhly performance at The Met Breuer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019


Anne Hardy
Liquid Landscape, 2018
FIELDwork (sculptural installation) with surround audio, programmed light and wind duration 10:12 mins looped
dimensions variable
Photo: Anne Hardy
© Anne Hardy, courtesy Maureen Paley, London


For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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