Shape Open 

Shape exists to help open up the arts and heritage sector by removing social barriers that block the career paths of disabled artists and creatives, and to promote positive dialogues around disability and inclusion across all venues and disciplines.  Through our annual exhibition, the Shape Open, we aim to create opportunities, tackle discrimination and provide full inclusion and accessibility for all disabled artists and art audiences. And to exhibit art created by talented disabled artists in the context and spaces they deserve to be presented in.

The Shape Open is a group show for disabled and non-disabled artists, created in response to a disability-centred theme. Held in high-profile spaces such as Bow Arts' Nunnery Gallery, Portobello Gallery, Yinka Shonibare's Guest Projects, The Arts Pavilion and our own pop-up galleries, The Open provides a space where disabled and non-disabled artists can discuss views and ideas about issues and topics which are often sidelined within artistic discourse.

Last year we held a retrospective exhibition celebrating six years of the Open, at Hoxton Arches, London. Below are some images from the exhibition, or you can view and download the catalogue.  

a manual wheelchair converted to resemble a deck chair with an orange and white striped  canvas seatprivate view audience at Shape Open with printed artwork on floor in foreground

woman views a cardboard sculpture of a male figurea book opened at its centre to reveal holes bored through it


The Shape Open Exhibition provides a fantastic platform for disabled artists to show their work. Such exhibitions offer great opportunities for artists to be discovered by institutions and large audiences. Similar exhibitions have helped to contribute to the development of my own personal career

- Shape Open patron Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA)


Your money will go directly towards supporting emerging and developing artists, as we strive to support their careers within mainstream spaces

Help us to: 

  • Promote excellent, inspiring art by disabled artists.
  • Provide mainstream showcasing opportunities for artists who face disabling barriers which threaten to leave them marginalised.
  • Promote high-quality artistic works that encourage debate and critical reflection around disability-related issues.
  • Help young disabled people realise their potential and pursue their ambitions in the creative sector.
  • Train cultural institutions to be aware of accessibility needs to enable disabled people to participate fully in the arts.

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Thank you!


Banner Image: Beth Davis-Hofbauer's, Accessible Artwork (Existential Sign), 2016, photographed by Rachel Cherry.

Body Images

1.  Strangers (2013) by Carly Jane

2. Private view with Not Relevant (2017) by Arjun Harrison Mann featured

3.  Picking Holes (2013) by Bekki Perriman

4. Private view with Entitlement– series number 1 (2013) by James Lake featured

All photography by Rachel Cherry.

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To speak to one of our team regarding sponsorship or fundraising in relation to this or other high quality artistic events, please call 0207 424 7330 or email [email protected]. Thank you for your generous support.