The Box unveils a 2024 exhibition programme featuring significant partnerships with National Portrait Gallery, Tate, National Gallery and Imperial War Museums
The Box, Plymouth’s award-winning museum, art gallery and archive, has revealed an ambitious exhibition programme for 2024. It includes collaborations with some of the country’s most high-profile museums and galleries, and exhibitions that explore timely issues such as the role of museums in relation to empire and the ongoing challenge of the climate crisis.
In spring 2024, The Box will use its exhibitions to investigate issues of history, place and the climate emergency.
Beyond the Page: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain, 1600 to Now
17 February – 2 June 2024
Organised by MK Gallery, Milton Keynes in partnership with The Box and curated by Hammad Nasar and Anthony Spira with advice from Emily Hannam, Beyond the Page explores how modern and contemporary artists have reclaimed and reinvented the historic traditions of South Asian miniature painting, taking them beyond the pages of illuminated manuscripts to experimental forms that include installations, sculpture and film.
The exhibition will be displayed in the beautifully restored St Luke’s church and features work by artists from different generations. Contemporary works will be shown alongside examples of miniature painting dating as far back as the mid-1500s, drawn from major collections including The Victoria & Albert Museum and The British Museum. Many of them are rarely displayed due to their fragility. The Box will also display a small selection of rarely seen Mughal watercolours from its historically important Cottonian Collection.
16 March – throughout 2024
“How inappropriate to call this planet ‘Earth’ when it is clearly ‘Ocean’.” – Arthur C. Clarke
This exhibition will be drawn from the natural history, art and social history collections at The Box and supported by a range of partners including the Marine Biological Association, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, University of Plymouth and South West-based ocean conservation organisations.
With Plymouth Sound as one of the most studied and significant stretches of water in the world, and groundbreaking marine research taking place in the city that directly combats climate change and impacts global policy, Planet Ocean will look at how we can study, use and take inspiration from familiar waters to play a part in a global movement to safeguard the sea.
The exhibition will use the overarching themes of plankton, pollution, people and planet to share facts, key findings, objects and stories; empowering visitors to become ocean advocates and inspiring hope.
Throughout summer 2024, The Box will use its programme to take a closer look at identity and representation.
The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure
29 June – 29 September 2024
Organised by the National Portrait Gallery, this major exhibition will present a study of the Black figure and its representation in contemporary art. It will showcase the work of talented artists such as Michael Armitage, Lubaina Himid and Turner Prize 2023 nominee Barbara Walker, surveying the presence and absence of the Black figure in Western art history, as well as exploring the social, psychological and cultural contexts in which works of art on display were produced. The Time is Always Now is curated by Ekow Eshun, the former Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts.
The summer will also be the last chance to see two other significant artworks. Yinka Shonibare CBE RA: End of Empire is already on display at The Box and will remain on show until 23 June 2024. This large-scale sculpture comments on the balance of power at the start of the First World War, making a striking visual connection between the conflicts of the West, globalisation and empire.
John Akomfrah: Arcadia is due to open at The Box on 30 November 2023 and will be on display until 2 June 2024. This multi-screen film commission by the hugely respected Akomfrah reflects on the settling of the ‘New World’ and the invisible forces that are always at play, regardless of human ambition.
During autumn 2024, The Box will present a season that explores our relationship with nature.
ARTIST ROOMS: Vija Celmins
19 October 2024 – 12 January 2025
Now in her 80s, Vija Celmins is best known for her obsessive, detailed images of ocean waves and the star-filled night sky. Recognised for her highly executed drawings and her practice in printmaking, her delicate images are based on photographs of the sea, deserts, the night sky and other natural phenomena.
Presented in partnership with Tate and National Galleries of Scotland, this mesmerising exhibition will bring 30 works on paper spanning 1975-2010 to Plymouth, drawn from the important holdings of her work in the ARTIST ROOMS national collection.
Born in Latvia in 1938, Celmins emigrated with her family to America in 1948 and lives and works in New York. She has been the subject of over 40 solo exhibitions and retrospectives to date.
J. M. W. Turner and Ingrid Pollard MBE
19 October 2024 – 12 January 2025
Completing an autumn/winter 2024 season that looks at landscape and how it impacts on our sense of belonging and identity, The Box will present a selection of works by J. M. W. Turner, on loan from Tate, in dialogue with a new addition to its permanent collection by multi-media artist, photographer and researcher Ingrid Pollard MBE.
The Turner works – a mix of watercolours and oil paintings predominantly dating from the 1820s and 1830s – depict waves, wind, seas and skies.
Ingrid Pollard’s Three Drops of Blood was acquired by The Box in 2023 through the Freelands Art Fund Acquisition and consists of six unique bark boxes, six framed images and seven prints. Created in 2022 for a solo exhibition of the same name at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton, the installation draws on two years of research that saw Pollard travel across Devon, unearthing the folk histories of botanical gardens and ferns and exploring the representation of botanicals in the county’s historic lace making industry.
Throughout 2024, The Box will also work on two significant artist commissions.
IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund
By autumn 2024
This commission has been made possible thanks to the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund, a national partnership programme of over 20 artist commissions inspired by the heritage of conflict. Led by Imperial War Museums, the initiative was created following the success of 14-18 NOW, the official UK arts programme for the First World War centenary.
The Box will use the Falklands Conflict of 1982 as a starting point for an artist commission that connects with the city’s military heritage and explores the idea of home. The artist will be selected in early 2024 and will collaborate with a group of Plymouth-based veterans as part of the process.
The Triumph of Art
Throughout 2024 – July 2025
During 2024 The Box will be one of four national partners who are collaborating on The Triumph of Art – the National Gallery’s commission to round off its Bicentenary year. Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller is leading this UK-wide performance work which celebrates festivals, gatherings and art in the public realm.
With the help of four specially appointed Assistant Curators, The Box, Mostyn in Llandudno, The Playhouse in Derry/Londonderry and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee will work with local communities to research and develop a performance piece which will be realised in early 2025. All four projects will then join together in a major performance outside the National Gallery, on Trafalgar Square in July 2025.
Victoria Pomery, CEO at The Box said: “Our 2024 programme really sets out our ambition to bring exhibitions and commissions of national and international quality to Plymouth and west country audiences. It also delivers our vision to weave the historical and contemporary together to help us understand more about the world we live in, as well as share and celebrate the importance of history and creativity.”