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20/20: Open call for artists’ expressions of interest

A museum with ornate ceiling and artworks on the walls and on screen. There is a reflective black floor with white garden chairs place in front of the screen. A large metal chain runs along the floor between the chairs
  • Written byKatie Moss and Cat Cooper
  • Published date 03 May 2022
A museum with ornate ceiling and artworks on the walls and on screen. There is a reflective black floor with white garden chairs place in front of the screen. A large metal chain runs along the floor between the chairs
Installation shot of Revisiting the Work of Black Artists in Scotland through New Collecting in GoMA, Glasgow with collection works by Alberta Whittle, Maud Sulter and Barby Asante (2021). Courtesy Glasgow Museums

The Decolonising Arts Institute at UAL has launched the first of 2 open calls for artists across the UK to apply for a national commissioning and network project.

The programme will bring together 20 emerging or mid-career ethnically diverse artists who may identify as black, brown, or as people of colour, with 20 public art collections – leading to 20 new permanent acquisitions in museums and galleries across the UK.

The 20/20 project, funded by Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants programme, Freelands Foundation and UAL, is a 3-year programme to catalyse artists’ careers and meaningful change in collections. It is a response to the resurgent Black Lives Matter movement – which sparked debates around national monuments and collections, and their colonial legacies.

Successful applicants will be commissioned to research, develop and produce a creative work that engages with their host collection partner. They will undertake a 15-month residency, facilitated by UAL, which explores and responds to the collection’s history.

20/20 will address the often problematic and negative ways in which diverse audiences see themselves reflected in these spaces. Artists will be supported to develop their practices, whilst host institutions will be urged to confront how colonial histories and legacies influence collections and marginalise audiences.

20/20 will host a public programme, including an online digital exhibition at the end of each round of residencies, hosted by UAL. These exhibitions will showcase the residency projects and may feature work across diverse media, including digital native work.

The 20/20 programme will culminate in a symposium and e-publication featuring 20 original short essays commissioned in response to the residencies. This will bring artists, curators, and writers into dialogue with local, regional, national, and international audiences.

Each collection partner will also receive a portfolio of 20/20 prints. This means that artists who may have little or no visibility in collections to date, will find their work in 20 public collections across the UK – impacting artists, audiences and the collections themselves.

20/20 is a response to urgent calls to follow words and gestures with meaningful actions – and move ‘Beyond the Black Square'. The project will support inclusive engagement between collections and the communities they serve, generating a richer understanding of collections’ histories and the contributions of under-represented or overlooked artists in their midst. We are excited to welcome wide-ranging and challenging critical and creative submissions in response to this call and look forward to working with our first cohort of artists and collection partners.

— Dr susan pui san lok, Decolonising Arts Institute Director

The first open call for artists is taking place from 3 May – 6 June 2022. This cohort will take up their residency in the early autumn of 2022. The second call for artists will follow in January 2023.

Find out more and apply

Artists can find out more about 20/20 and apply via the Call for artists page.

20/20 Collection partners

Birmingham Museums Trust; The Box, Plymouth; Bradford District Museums and Galleries; Bristol Museum & Art Gallery; Compton Verney, Warwickshire; Harris Museum, Preston; The Hepworth Wakefield; Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry; Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow; Kettle's Yard, Cambridge; Leeds Art Gallery; The Lightbox, Woking; Manchester Art Gallery; MIMA (Middlesbrough Museum of Modern Art); National Disability Arts Collection & Archive (NDACA); National Museums Liverpool; National Museums Northern Ireland; Pallant House Gallery, Chichester; Sheffield Museums Trust; Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool; Wolverhampton Art Gallery.