With the Shape Open deadline a week away, the Open’s coordinator Isabella Tulloch shares her insights into this year’s host Nunnery Gallery and some pointers on the theme ‘In Circles’…

Bow Art’s Nunnery Gallery will host the Open exhibition this year, from the 5th September till 19th September 2019. But this isn’t the first time the Open has been hosted by Bow Arts, the Open was previously shown at the Nunnery Gallery in 2013.

We’re thrilled to return to the space as it allows Shape as an organisation to continue to integrate emerging disabled artists into high profile art galleries and artist run spaces. This is imperative for us, as utilising these places and relationships not only allows us to continue to give disabled artists a fair platform, but enables new broader audiences to encounter their art.

Nunnery Gallery champions the work of emerging artists and as surrounded by Bow Arts’ artist studios, it adds further possibilities for our Open artists and the Open Alumni to grow a wide diverse network of artists for exchange and discussion.

This year’s theme delves into the current creative climate that artists are finding themselves in, and hopes to reflect on the lived experience of disability at this moment in time. Artists currently applying to take part in the Open are in a pre and post ‘Brexit’ circle. What is about to happen next? In regards to disability arts and the “mainstream” - are the same questions and answers being repeated?

How do we go from talking about disabling barriers to removing them? Are we going around in circles?

I think we are in an interesting point in time where we can push the conversation towards points of connection and points of commonality. As artists are using this momentum to create interestingly creative, diverse, and constructive dialogues around removing society’s disabling barriers and the benefits to everyone of doing so.  This is what I find so exciting and rewarding about working on the Open, the discourses it creates!

Banner Image: Tipping Point by Jack Haslam, featured in Shape Open 2018. Photo by Rachel Cherry.