Aspex Portsmouth

Week 39, Platform, 40 Stories

Joanne Bushnell, Director

For nine years the Platform Graduate Award has been central to our programme at Aspex. Led by Contemporary Visual Art Network South East with gallery and university partners from right across the region, it has enabled us to show and celebrate the work of 110 arts graduates.

In Portsmouth we are geographically lucky to be surrounded by some exceptional art schools and through Platform we work with: Arts University Bournemouth; Solent University, Southampton; UCA Farnham; University of Chichester; University of Portsmouth; and Winchester School of Art, Southampton University. Each year we visit fine art, photography and illustration degree shows, selecting two artists from each university for a group exhibition at the gallery, and then nominate one to go forward for the regional award of a bursary and professional development support. We’ve been thrilled to have nominated four winners over the years: Joella Wheatley, Josephine Rock, mogen Marooney and Louise Hall. 

This programme has enabled us to work with some really fantastic artists right at the very start of their careers, and to showcase work which always reflects the concerns and interests of recent graduates, regardless of what time of life they have come to higher education. But during these last two years, Platform has felt even more urgent and needed, when so many students have undertaken big chunks of their education at home. They have missed out on valuable exhibition opportunities which enable them to push and explore their practice, while engaging wider audiences beyond their peers.

Over the years we’ve been able to extend Platform at Aspex to include an alumni residency, and with the full group including over 350 artists who have studied across the region, we can’t wait to see the applications for our next opportunity. We’ve just opened our exhibition for 2021, come along to celebrate the achievements of our current cohort of absolute stars.