From education to employment

MIRROR launches at Plymouth College of Art

Katie Schwab: A Working Building (2019)

Plymouth College of Art has announced the launch of MIRROR, an updated public gallery, events programme and online resource based within the college and built on the legacy of The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, which was established in 2006.

Following on from the success of the South West Showcase, a programme of mentoring and support for South West based artists that was established by the Gallery team at Plymouth College of Art in 2013 as a strategic response to the lack of talent development and professional exhibition opportunities for artists based in the region, MIRROR is dedicated to supporting the professional development of artists, with a particular focus on enriching the careers of artists based within the South West.

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With a commitment to taking a long-term, regenerative and proactive approach to developing the arts ecology in the South West, MIRROR will act as a platform to commission, produce and present visual art exhibitions, events, residencies, research and student-led projects; alongside working strategically and collaboratively with partners to improve the provision of, access to and growth of culture in Plymouth.

Hannah Rose said: “I’m incredibly excited about the launch of MIRROR, a platform that has been a long time in the planning and which we hope will improve the infrastructure and ecology for visual arts in the city. Exhibitions will be hosted in our existing gallery space, accessible by everyone in the city through the same main entrance to Plymouth College of Art that you’d use to visit Plymouth Arts Cinema. MIRROR will act as a much more porous platform that allows us to create many more opportunities for people to get involved and more ways for artists, students and staff to initiate new activities. Ultimately, MIRROR is set up to have much more impact on the professional development of artists in the South West. 

“MIRROR will bring a big increase in opportunities that we are developing for students to volunteer, pairing with and supporting professional artists. We want to demystify the art world and how it works, creating valuable career development opportunities. Beyond that, we now have a new online platform to communicate those experiences, publish blogs about what the students learned and make all of that knowledge easily accessible for people who want to learn more about how art and being an artist works.

“I really care about creating professional development opportunities for artists and supporting the sustainable development of artists practices in the South West region. MIRROR represents the culmination of my personal and professional work in the arts to date. MIRROR will give everybody in the South West free access to a year-round visual arts programme, celebrating the achievements of artists and increasing their visibility. I want everyone in the South West to share my excitement and pride in the amazing artists who live and work here. And I want to make it easier to find, connect with and buy affordable artworks that have been created by artists based in the region.”

Situated within Plymouth College of Art, the artists who work with MIRROR will have access to the incredible resource of knowledge and skills of the practicing artists who work at the college, as well as access to the colleges’ world-class production facilities and equipment.

Paula Orrell, Director of Contemporary Visual Art Network (CVAN) and lead for Visual Arts South West (VASW): “MIRROR has been developed at a critical time in support of visual artists in the South West. The pandemic has hit artists and independent art workers hard. Most artists juggle jobs to maintain their practice and survive off sales, commissions and public funding. All of which have become highly competitive or not available. Hannah is creating a community, a platform where artists can share their ideas and space where the sector, curators, arts professionals can view the exceptional talent across the region. Quoting artists Susan Hiller “Artists have a function. we’re part of the conversation. It’s our job to represent and mirror back the values of the culture in a way that people haven’t seen before”. Artists are a workforce; they have a job as an artist. I really urge people to get behind this critical development.”

In addition to free public exhibitions, MIRROR will offer Give and Take Over opportunities, where local artists, students and staff from Plymouth College of Art can programme one-off events, performances, talks and screenings to happen alongside the exhibitions.


Through Buy Art South West, MIRROR will profile artists in the region who have artwork for sale, creating a resource to find and buy affordable local art.

MIRROR’s rolling Make Work With Us opportunities will support experienced artists with ambitious ideas for projects that they want to run outside of traditional gallery spaces, helping to find host partners, connect students to artists and connect artists with members of the wider creative community, to make ambitious artworks. 

All of these different strands and more will represent MIRROR’s offer to people in the South West, with lots of different ways for different types of people to get involved, find out more, support cultural developments in the region and open up career opportunities for artists.

Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal and Chief Executive of Plymouth College of Art, said: “MIRROR is both a noun and a verb – a distinctive entity that brings a certain kind of agency to the visual arts partnership in Plymouth. MIRROR extends the legacy of The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art as what we think of as a post-institutional space located within an art school. A space of reflection, naturally, in which we may see ourselves in a new light.”

Dr Steven Paige, Senior Lecturer & Subject Leader for Postgraduate Studies at Plymouth College of Art, said: “MIRROR offers an opportunity for Plymouth College of Art students to become engaged beyond its rich programme of exhibitions; students will be able to experience how different elements of the art world works, being part of supporting and developing exhibitions, projects and events on the ground, gaining valuable insights and real world experience.”

Contemporary art holds up a mirror to the world and the people in it. MIRROR is an invitation to see and imagine things differently, broadening our horizons and allowing us to imagine different perspectives.

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