Plymouth Young Contemporary Open 2016 – Review by Gemma Bray


Gemma Bray visits the Plymouth Young Contemporary Open and considers the opportunities that this biannual exhibition provides for young people in the city

Plymouth Young Contemporary Open Online

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

The very first Plymouth Young Contemporary Open (PYCO) exhibition opened at Radiant Gallery and Peninsula Arts Gallery on Friday 1 July.

Following on from the success of Plymouth Contemporary Open, PYCO was created to showcase the incredible talent of children and young people. The exhibition will run biannually, providing a platform for artists in Plymouth. Anyone aged 4 to 30 who either lived, worked or studied in the Plymouth area were invited to submit work across all contemporary art genres including photography, sculpture, performance, film and more.

Having exhibitions like PYCO is extremely valuable as it gives children and young people in Plymouth an opportunity to showcase their creative skills. The exhibition was produced by Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University and Effervescent, with associated partners Plymouth Culture, Radiant Gallery, Plymouth History Centre, Karst, Ocean Studios, Plymouth Arts Centre and Plymouth College of Art.

The theme for this year’s exhibition was GROW, with entrants invited to create original artwork with this in mind. It was fascinating to see how the different age groups were inspired by this theme. Some of the pieces were easy to interpret whereas with others the creator’s extract helped me to understand the piece.

Abigail Bell (age category 4-7) ‘Plants’

Liam Symes (age category 24-30) ‘The Box’

Emily Wood (age category 16-18) ‘Green Concrete’

The panel for PYCO consisted of Dr Sarah Chapman, Director of Peninsula Arts, Ray White, Curator at Effervescent, Blair Todd, Exhibitions Curator and Deputy Director of Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange. David Butler, Coordinator at LifeWorkArt and Donna Howard, Director of KARST. The winning entries were collected in a dual-site show at Radiant and Peninsula Arts that was opened to the public from 2 – 9 July 2016.

At the launch, the judges announced the winners and gave out prizes to the winners and runners up in the six different age categories. It was great to see that the prizes were all things which would help the artists to develop their practice, such as workshops, commissions and studio space.

Ray White, Senior Curator at Radiant said:

“The first Plymouth Young Contemporary Open is a huge success. The quality and range of work, from all age categories, is truly inspiring. Creativity – and a critical engagement with making and presenting work – is alive and well in Plymouth. Effervescent is proud to have developed this initiative, and we look forward to a bright future for this yearly event. We couldn’t have done it without our partners and associate organisations, and look forward to continued city-wide collaboration.”

Dr Sarah Chapman, Director of Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University, said:

“This competition has captured the imagination of young people in the Plymouth area, and I hope the current exhibition will be the first of many such events to take place in the city. It has helped to unearth an incredibly high level of creativity, and it is a great honour to showcase such talent within the Peninsula Arts Gallery. I hope seeing their work on display will inspire these young artists to continuing pursuing art as a passion, career or both in the future.”

Prize Winners, 2016 Plymouth Young Contemporary Open

Age 4 – 7

Runner-up: Isabella Colthurst ‘Growing is part of us’ (prize: Plymouth College of Art Outside the Lines art workshop)

Winner: Katherine Wilson ‘The Looming Rainbow’ (prize: Effervescent associate artist day and £200 materials budget – to the value of £950)

Commended: Abigail Bell

Age 8 – 11

Runner-up: Alicia Rose Greivson-Moore ‘GROW’, Peninsula Arts (Plymouth College of Art Holiday art course)

Winner: Antonia Parkyn ‘GrowClan Cats Animation’, Radiant (prize: Effervescent associate artist day and £200 materials budget)

Commended (for her imaginative interpretation of the theme Grow): Rosie Prior, showing at Peninsula Arts

Age 12 – 15

Runner-up: Amelia Goodman ‘Grow’ showing at Peninsula Arts

Winner: George Davies ‘Metropolis’, Peninsula Arts (£300 commission to make work to be shown in association with the Plymouth Contemporary Open 2017)

Age 16 – 18

Runner-up: Emily Wood ‘Green Concrete’ (Plymouth College of Art short course)

Winner: Nicole Jones ‘Young Girl with Flowers’ (£750 commission to make work to be shown in association with the Plymouth Contemporary Open 2017)

Commended: Ben Churchill ‘Growth of Us’

Age 19 – 23

Runner-up: Vesislava Zheleva ‘Bretonside’, Peninsula Arts (KARST Artist Mentoring sessions)

Winner: Matilda Robinson ‘Movable & Usable’, Radiant (£1500 commission to make work to be shown in association with the Plymouth Contemporary Open 2017)

Commended (for her observation and technical skill): Frances Spry, Peninsula Arts

Age 24 – 30

Runner-up: Ashley Franceschi ‘Untitled’ (four days in the Ocean Studios workshop plus two days to display resulting work in the project space)

Winner: Liam Symes ‘The Box’ (£2000 commission to make work to be shown in association with the Plymouth Contemporary Open 2017 and 6 months PAC Home membership)

Commended: Holly Knowles