About VASW

Who we are

Visual Arts South West's programme is developed and delivered by our Network Manager, Paula Orrell, who 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 three groups representing the following sectors:

1. National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs)
2. Independent artists and Curators
3. Non-NPOs/independent organisations




Network Manager: Paula Orrell
@VisualArtsSW [email protected]

Paula Orrell is a dynamic, forward thinking and experienced leader. She previously worked as Relationship Manager, Visual Arts for Arts Council England in the south west. Paula is passionate about supporting the creation of exceptional visual arts and the development of emerging and established visual artists. She has developed a wealth of national and international experience to support that passion, including in Plymouth as a Curator and Artistic Director, and in New Zealand as Artistic Director and Principal Curator of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Christchurch.

She has helped to establish the careers of many younger artists and worked with a diverse range of established artists, including Marina Abramović, Lucy Orta, Roy Ascott, Lisa Reihana, John Akomfrah, Melanie Manchot, Tom Dale, Cadu, and Ultra Red.

Art ecology and community are central to her work, as well as a socially engaged approach.


Network Administrator: Nella Aarne
@VisualArtsSW [email protected]

Nella Aarne is a curator based in Bradford-on-Avon. She is the Co-Director of Obsidian Coast, a project space hosting exhibitions, residencies and events, and the convener of the Of Animacy Reading Group hosted at the ICA, London from 2017–18. Her work considers the possibilities of learning through collaborative practice and feminist engagements with human and nonhuman agents in the material world. She completed the MFA Curating programme at Goldsmiths in 2015, and was the recipient of their Curatorial Junior Fellowship in 2015–16. She has worked on projects for Glasgow International, Art Licks Weekend and Science Museum. Her writing has been published by Assembly Point and Watermans Arts Centre.


Steering Group


Co-Chair: Louise Coysh
University of Southampton
, Non-NPO, Hampshire

Louise Coysh joined the University of Southampton as its first Associate Director, Arts and Culture in 2016. Working with the University’s John Hansard Gallery, Turner Sims Southampton and through partnerships, she leads on delivery of the University’s arts and cultural strategy. With a background in visual art and curating, Louise has specialised in working with artists and communities on realising ambitious collaborative projects, interventions and dynamic public programmes located outside the gallery. Past roles include Senior Curator at Art on the Underground, TfL (2008–16), Project Curator (2004–8) at the Serpentine Gallery, London and Magazine Co-ordinator at an: The Artist Information Company (1998–2001). In 2017 she was a selector for Plymouth Contemporary. She is a member of Arts Council England’s South West Area Council.


Co-Chair: Jamie Eastman
Edge Arts Bath
, Non-NPO/Independent Arts Organisation, Somerset

Jamie Eastman (b. 1972) has an accomplished career in arts and culture most especially in contemporary art, performance and music. Before joining Bath as Director of Arts, Jamie held senior roles at Lancaster University, Arnolfini, Bristol and the ICA, London with responsibility for artistic, strategic and operational direction.


Vice Chair: Ben Borthwick
Plymouth Arts Centre, Non-NPO/Independent Arts Organisation, 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.


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.


Emily Bull
Creative Youth Network
Non-NPO/Independent Arts Organisation, Bristol

Emily Bull is based in Bristol and currently working as the Creative Producer at Creative Youth Network. Emily has an MA in Arts Management and career background in audience and community engagement in the Arts. She brings together stakeholders, artists, spaces and communities to create, participate and deliver, with a particular focus on young people primarily from disadvantaged backgrounds and emerging young artists. Emily is also a Clore Cultural Leader, Mentor and Coach.


Lara Goodband
Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery
NPO, Devon

Lara has over 20 years’ experience as an art curator in galleries, museums and unusual places and spaces. Most recently she initiated, curated and delivered major contemporary art exhibitions and education projects as part of Hull City of Culture. Lara was part of the Ferens Art Gallery curatorial team that enabled its position on the shortlist for Museum of the Year 2017. From 2011 to 2013 Lara directed international programmes for Cultural Olympiad including the award-winning Sea Swim project. Her experience includes strategic planning and partnerships across cultural institutions as well as co-directing the large-scale, outdoor contemporary art project York Curiouser in 2014/5. As Director of Exeter Culture based at the University of Exeter she recruited a new steering group, developed its vision and brand and commissioned the new arts and culture strategy. Lara lives in Exeter.


Zoe Li
Somerset Art Works
NPO, Somerset

Zoe Li has more than 15 years' experience in working with artists to develop new commissions at off-site locations. She delivered the annual Somerset Art Weeks between 2007–2015 and is currently working as freelance Programme Associate of Somerset Art Works to lead their professional development programme, digital strategy and the development of Art Weeks Festival. She also worked for Arts Council England (South West) as regional coordinator for decibel (2002–2004) and Visual Arts Relationship Manager (2010–15). She works with artists across different disciplines, and has established curatorial interests in participatory practice and collaboration. She co-founded Eastville Project Space in Yeovil in 2015 and has served as Trustee at Take A Part CIC since 2017.


Robert Leckie
Spike Island
NPO, Bristol

Robert Leckie is Director of Spike Island in Bristol. He was previously Curator and Head of Programmes at Gasworks in London, where he led the exhibitions, residencies and public programmes from 2011 to 2018. He has written for AfterallRhizome and Mousse, among other publications, and is a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths, and the University of the Arts in London.




Find out more about:
our programme
about CVAN
CVAN Organisations

What's On

Family Saturdays

Aspex Gallery, The Vulcan, PO1 3BF

Monday 01 October 2018 – Thursday 31 October 2019

Craft Workshops

Various Venues

Friday 08 February 2019 – Tuesday 31 December 2019

Jon England: Hour Hands

Market House Museum, 32 Swain St, Watchet TA23 0AD

Wednesday 27 March 2019 – Friday 08 November 2019

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: