About VASW

Who we are

The programme is developed and delivered by our Network Manager Gordon Dalton. For enquiries about the network or the programme, please email him.

The Network Manager reports to an elected steering group. The Visual Arts South West steering group is set out to reflect the geographic spread and diversity of practice within the region and is comprised of 3 groups representing the following sectors:

1. New Portfolio Organisations (NPO’s)
2. Independent artists and Curators
3. Non-NPOs/independent organisations



Network Manager - Gordon Dalton
@VisualArtSW gordon@vasw.org.uk

Info to follow.


Web Editor: Julie McCalden
@VisualArtSW info@vasw.org.uk

Julie McCalden is an artist and freelance arts professional who has worked as Web Editor for VASW since 2012. She lives and works in Bristol where she studied for an MA in Fine Art at the University of the West of England (UWE), graduating in 2013. Now based at Spike Island she is Co-Chair of Spike Studios. McCalden has exhibited nationally and internationally. She is a member of Girl Gang and Spike Associates, Bristol, and was director of the artist-led space Motorcade/FlashParade in 2012. She also works freelance for a-n The Artists Information Company and is an Associate Lecturer at UWE.


Steering Group


Chair: Helen Legg
Spike Island, NPO,

Helen Legg has been director of Spike Island, Bristol, since September 2010. Previously she was Curator at Ikon, Birmingham for 5 years, working on exhibitions, offsite projects and developing Ikon Eastside; a second gallery in a former factory in Digbeth, an industrial area of the city. She was Assistant Curator at Mead Gallery, University of Warwick. In 2014 she was a judge for the Turner Prize and in 2013, was a selector for the Paul Hamlyn Artist’s Awards. She is chair of Visual Arts South West, on the advisory board of the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and serves on the acquisition committee for Frac Midi-Pyrénées 2012-15.


Vice Chair: James Green
Newlyn Art Gallery, NPO
, Cornwall

James joined Newlyn Art Gallery as Director in July 2006 and oversaw its capital expansion in 2007. Prior to this he was responsible for exhibitions and learning programmes at The Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston. He established a curatorial partnership with the University of Central Lancashire, In Certain Places, creating opportunities for artists at the heart of the city’s regeneration. James is a board member of the Borlase Smart John Wells Trust, responsible for artists’ studio provision in West Cornwall, and is Vice Chair of Visual Arts South West.


Ben Borthwick
Plymouth Arts Centre, NPO, Devon

Ben Borthwick is Artistic Director of Plymouth Arts Centre and an independent curator and writer. He was Director of the international art prize Artes Mundi 5 from 2010-12 and before that Assistant Curator at Tate Modern, where he curated exhibitions and commissions by Bruce Nauman, Latifa Echakhch and Gilbert & George. Recent independent projects include Andrea Buettner’s 2014 exhibition Hidden Marriage at National Museum Cardiff and accompanying artist’s book published by Koenig Books, and Rosa Barba's 2015 film Hidden Conference. He was on the selection committees for the British Pavilion and Wales in Venice at the 2013 Venice Biennale.


Sarah Bowden
Hardwick Gallery at the University of Gloucestershire
Non-NPO/Independent Arts Organisation, Gloucestershire

Sarah Bowden is the Programme Director of Hardwick Gallery at the University of Gloucestershire. Hardwick Gallery offers a new regional centre for audiences to experience contemporary visual art, with a programme of public exhibitions, talks and discussions. Between 2007 and 2014 Sarah co-ordinated MEANTIME Project-Space in Cheltenham. MEANTIME was a unique resource in the region, with a programme of artists' projects, residencies and live events that provided a platform for experimentation and engagement in contemporary practices.


Kate Brindley
Arnolfini, NPO
, Bristol

An experienced visual arts and museums professional, Kate Brindley’s career has been characterised by curatorial and programme delivery, coupled with a highly developed senior leadership. What has united all her work is a passion to deliver and communicate the highest quality cultural experiences to people, and a commitment to developing excellence, to inspire and transform lives. With over 20 years’ experience, 12 years of which as a Director of 4 respected institutions, Kate is recognised in the arts sector through her work with audiences, artists, curators, institutions and funders and has extensive staff, partnership and project management experience. Kate is currently the Director at Arnolfini, Bristol, and for the last 6 years she has been the only museum and visual arts advisor to the influential Paul Hamlyn Foundation, including being lead advisor for the “Our Museum” programme.


Sarah Chapman
Peninsula Arts, Non-NPO/Independent Arts Organisation,

Dr Sarah Chapman is Director of Peninsula Arts, a multi-art form venue supported by Plymouth University. Her passion and knowledge of the arts is grounded in an appreciation of both the historic and contemporary development of art, film, music (classical and experimental), performance, dance, literature, writing and debate. She has a particular interest in cross-disciplinary practices that bring together art and science, and her published research examines the benefits of a liberal arts education within the wider sphere of education and new developments within painting and photography. Recent curated projects include the Moby-Dick Big Read (2013) and Dan and Lia Perjovschi: News After News / Knowledge Museum Kit including the associated publication 'Behind the Line' (2012).


Letty Clarke
Independent Artist, Hampshire

Letty Clarke is a Portsmouth based artist at the early stage of her career. Her practice is tied together by an interest in the dynamics of democratic processes, often resulting in reactionary working responding to a site or situation. She graduated from Central School of Speech and Drama in 2011. She is a core member of the artist-led collective Stair/Slide/Space, whose interest is in contributing to the development of Portsmouth’s arts ecology through collaborative practice and critical discourse. She has also recently been appointed as the Studio Coordinator for Art Space Portsmouth.


Megan Dunford
Independent Artist and Curator, Dorset

Megan Dunford is a freelance artist and curator. Her practice is concerned with the exploration of colour and surface, using found imagery and man-made structures in rural environments. Megan graduated from UWIC Cardiff in 2011, receiving a BA Honours Fine Art Degree. Now located in Dorset Megan has become linked to several arts organisations in the area. She currently works at Bridport Arts Centre as Exhibitions Assistant and Dorset Visual Arts as E-news Editor and Programme Coordinator. Megan has also helped to run events like Bridport Open Studios and has exhibited her own work regionally over the past 4 years.


Sally Lai
Independent Curator, Somerset

Sally Lai is Co-Director of Feral Studio, a CIC set up to explore rural challenges through the bringing together of art, design, technology and growing. Before returning to the South West, where she grew up, Sally was Director of the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art. She is a curator and an occasional writer and has written for Art Monthly, Art Asia Pacific, Untitled, The Journal of Visual Culture and Yishu: The Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art. Sally was on the International Selection Committee of the Future Generation Art Prize in (2012), a nominator for the Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists (2003) and the Samsung Art Prize (2012). She was a Clore Fellow in 2005/6 and a finalist for the Women of the Future Award (Arts, Media and Culture) in 2011.


Patrick Lowry
Artist / Back Lane West, Non-NPO/Independent Arts Organisation, Cornwall

Patrick Lowry is an artist and lecturer living in Cornwall. He is also a founding artist, and current co-director, of the artist-led project space Back Lane West. Through an ongoing programme of residencies, talks, meetings, exchanges, and partnerships, BLW offers regional, national and international artists the opportunity of an environment for investigation, exploration and enquiry, and of developing new work within both a supportive and a critical context. As an artist, Patrick makes large-scale installation pieces, which explore our relationships to places and environments within social and political contexts. A recent winner of the Royal British Society of Sculptors’ Sculpture Shock prize, he continues to exhibit both nationally and internationally and has been a lecturer and course leader at Falmouth University, University of Plymouth, and Cornwall College developing new courses and initiatives.


Judith Robinson
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery
Non-NPO/Independent Arts Organisation, Plymouth

Judith Robinson is Partnerships Officer (Cultural and Creative Programmes) at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and Project Manager for New Expressions 3. A visual arts specialist she was a Visual Arts Officer for Arts Council South West and South West Arts (2000-2006), leading on capital developments in Newlyn, Penzance and St Ives, and regional curatorial practice; supporting strategic initiatives such as St Ives International; and developing arts and heritage partnerships.

Former Steering Group Members

2013 - 2015

Treasurer: Claire Doherty
Situations, NPO
, Bristol

Claire Doherty is the founder Director of Situations, producers of extraordinary artworks and projects in unexpected locations. Doherty is renowned for pioneering new forms of public art and for her publications From Studio to Situation (2004) and the 'Situation' edition of the Whitechapel's acclaimed Documents of Contemporary Art series (2009). Doherty was an advisor to the Olympic Park Public Realm Committee, she is a member of the Arts Council's external reference group for Outdoor Arts, an honorary arts advisor for the Arts on the Waterways and Curatorial Director of Oslo's public art programme, Slow Space, in Norway. In 2009 she was a recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Award for outstanding cultural entrepreneurs. In 2014 Public Art Now was launched and Out of Time, Out of Place: Public Art Now (Art / Books) was published.

2013 - 2015

Lindsay Hughes
Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts (ICIA) University of Bath

Non-NPO/Independent Arts Organisation, Bath

Lindsay Hughes is Creative Producer for Visual Arts at ICIA, University of Bath. Prior to this she was Senior Visual Arts Officer at Arts Council Wales. Lindsay has sat on the board of: Axis, Ffotogallery, Artes Mundi, Media Art Bath and NSEAD (National Society for Education in Art and Design). She has worked for Arts Council England, Arnolfini, Spacex Gallery, Tate St. Ives, Whitechapel Gallery and has taught on fine art and arts management courses. She has also worked as a freelance writer and curator and founded the Star and Dove contemporary artspace, Bristol. She has been nominated and shortlisted twice for a Nesta Fellowship and sits on the International Advisory board for artist run space Elastic Residence, London.

2013 - 2015

Jo Leahy
Stroud Valleys Artspace, NPO, Gloucestershire

Founder member, artist and co-director Jo Leahy has been a key strategic player in the formation and development of SVA (1996-present day). The organisation has grown and developed and is now recognised as one of the most active and exciting artist led organisations in the South West. From 2003 -14 she project managed the refurbishment of SVA’s studios, events and gallery space and jointly led SVA’s exhibition programme. Previously she worked in an artistic partnership undertaking commissions, performances and workshops. She has been an Advisor for the Artist-Led Initiative Advisory Service (ALIAS), and has also been active in the development work of the National Federation of Studio Providers and Visual Arts South West.

2013 - 2015

Carol Maund
Arts Bournemouth, Non-NPO/Independent Arts Organisation, Dorset

2013 - 2015

Clare Thornton
Independent Artist
, Bristol and Cornwall

Clare Thornton
is an independent artist living and working between Cornwall and Bristol. She has been a member of the VASW Steering Group since 2013. Her practice encompasses performance, sculpture, installation & print. She is an Associate Teacher at the University of Bristol, regular guest lecturer/mentor and longstanding studio holder at BV Studios. In 2007 she co-founded The Performance Re-enactment Society with projects shown at Arnolfini, Spike Island, Flattime House/South London Gallery and Gagosian Gallery NY. Clare continues to present her work nationally and internationally, both as solo projects and interdisciplinary collaborations. Clare is currently one of four South West based artists engaged in the Redefining Print project initiated by Double Elephant Print Workshop Exeter.

2010 - 2015

Amanda Wallwork
Independent artist and curator
, Dorset

Amanda Wallwork is an artist and curator based in Dorset. Her practice is primarily concerned with geology, archaeology and a continuing inquiry into landscape. She is represented in Cornwall by Belgrave St Ives and was recently elected an RWA academician. As a curator she works with artists on exhibitions, residencies, commissions and projects in both building and non-building based contexts. She developed and managed the arts programme for Sherborne House Arts and is a founding director and co-curator for b-side. She founded the Dorset based visual arts advocacy group, Big Picture, and is currently working on a project developing the marketplace for visual arts.


Find out more about:
our programme
about CVAN
CVAN Organisations

What's On

Radical Clay: Teaching with the greatest potters of the 1960s

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1RL

Saturday 22 July 2017 – Sunday 10 June 2018

Empire Through the Lens

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1RL

Saturday 30 September 2017 – Friday 31 August 2018

Plymouth Art Weekender 2018


Tuesday 09 January 2018 – Sunday 30 September 2018

Visual Arts South West

Working towards a South West where talented artists thrive, and a resilient and connected visual arts ecology that inspires more engaged and diverse audiences to value and advocate for its work.

Part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network

Supported by: