Our University Collaborations are at the Heart of our Work

Our vibrant events programme, research projects, and opportunities for young people could not have been achieved without our collaboration with both Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and University of Nottingham (UoN).

Photo Rasha Kotaiche

Our partnership with Nottingham’s universities pre-dates our opening in 2009. Since the mid-1990s, NTU’s School of Art & Design and Bonington Gallery had an ambition for a centre for contemporary visual and live art based in Nottingham. Both NTU and Angel Row Gallery were central to leading our development, and the project was also championed by Nottingham City Council and UoN, who worked to secure capital funding for our iconic building.

Since opening, we’ve collaborated with both universities to develop our free public event programme, drawing on rich interdisciplinary research of both local students and faculty. Attended by around 3,500 people each year, these free events activate important cultural, social and political conversations. This year, a partnership with NTU, UoN and other cultural partners, has allowed us to deliver a groundbreaking, free-to-attend independent study programme, CAMPUS, unique in the UK and open to anyone eager to learn more about visual culture and cultural studies.

Through our collaboration with NTU, each year over 30 students participate in placements at Nottingham Contemporary, equipping participants with vital skills and experiences. The RESPONSE placements allow students to oversee all aspects of producing an original publication, and the annual Aftermath project supports MFA Fine Art students in developing an exhibition of new artworks. Andrew Brown, MFA Course Leader, describes the value of the project:

“The students engage with an exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary, using their own practices as critical tools. This enables them to engage with a sense of criticality in relation to their own work.”

Our exhibitions and events programmes are made richer through our collaborations with students. Earlier this year we collaborated with NTU’s MFA Fine Art student, Paul Bryan - who participated in our Aftermath placement, and in partnership with Bonington Gallery we supported him in developing a series of research events and film screenings as part of his end of the year project, The Other Film Club. In 2018, NTU Architecture and Fashion students created alternative interpretation materials for our Trix and Robert Haussmann/Pia Camil exhibitions, to be used by visitors. Student, Sayo Olowo-Ake, who went on to pursue curatorial studies after an internship with our curatorial team explains:

“It was a real eye opener. I learnt more about the process involved with exhibition design, and enjoyed meeting the curators, technicians and everybody involved with the installation.”

Our unique relationship with the city’s universities has allowed us to be a site of original research and innovation. Working with academics from NTU and UoN, we engage with long-term research strands for an in-depth exploration of multidisciplinary ideas. This includes: On Translations, Institutional Analysis, Institution as Praxis, and Sonic Continuum. Since 2015, we’ve been collaborating with the Three Ecologies Research Group at UoN on The Slow Reading Group, which invites audiences to collectively read texts that expand on the ideas and themes from our research programme.

Our partnership enables us to advance important research in the cultural sector. In a two-year research project, led by Nottingham Contemporary in partnership with UoN, NTU, and cultural partners (New Art Exchange and National Justice Museum), The Bigger Picture we explored how arts organisations engage with older audiences and minority communities in Nottingham, and created free resources to be used by other cultural organisations.

Our partnership also supports collaborative doctoral training, and we are currently working with three PhD students: Cassie Kill, UoN, researching the impact of our young peoples’ programme on participants; Alex Jovčić-Sas, NTU, looking at the legacy of the Bauhaus, and the role of female composers in the development of electronic music; Harriet Cameron, from the Horizon Lab at UoN, researching human-computer interaction and the use of personal data in galleries and museums. Harriet, who is also doing a placement scheme with CAMPUS explains:

“Working with Nottingham Contemporary as part of my PhD programme has given me such a useful insight into the practicalities, priorities and practices of cultural institutions. Through meeting so many passionate and brilliant people here, as well as through CAMPUS and Nottingham Contemporary’s connections with other galleries, I’ve been able to shape my PhD project into something I hope will be genuinely relevant and impactful. It’s been invaluable, and so much fun.”

Our unique collaboration with both NTU and UoN has created something distinct to Nottingham Contemporary and to the city. These partnerships are key to our vision of being a world-leading place for shaping and imagining the future of art, education and ideas, and we will continue to strengthen them, and explore new ways of working together.