Introducing Bedwyr Williams’ MILQUETOAST

KARST is excited to invite you to our next exhibition, Bedwyr Williams’ MILQUETOAST – open from 11am on Friday 24 September.

This major new body of work by Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams satirizes the art world through sculpture, video, painting and drawing.

The exhibition also includes his witty and acerbic autobiographical Instagram drawings in which he parodies and punctures contemporary society and the culture sector.

Williams sends up this ‘fascinating circus’, from real-life hierarchies and aesthetics to online spats and humble bragging.

Art critic Hettie Judah, writing in The Guardian observed:

‘From the curators with aggressively short fringes and witty spectacles, to patronising artists on rural residencies, he sees us all. Williams has made it impossible to see massed art world gatherings as much other than an assemblage of his painfully accurate caricatures.’

The exhibition is accompanied by a new publication of Williams’ habitual drawing practice, designed by Pagemasters, published by Southwark Park Galleries. This book is made possible by the generous support of Arts Council of Wales through funds derived from the National Lottery.

Ben Borthwick, Head of Creative Programme at KARST, noted:

‘Williams’ exhibition is timely for Plymouth with its vibrant, ambitious art scene which has recently seen significant expansion of its’ architectural infrastructure. KARST is working closely with partners across the city and region, including East Quay in Watchet in advance of their upcoming site specific commission with Bedwyr Williams in December 2021’

More details of this partnership will be announced on our website and social media channels.

Williams himself says: ‘It’s weird being an artist. There’s buildings that are built for us to do things in. These buildings are often funny shapes or appear to teeter or lean but still have toilets and dustbins and all the basics as well…The way artists talk to and about each other both online and offline is its own sport, and nothing in my childhood prepared me for being around people like this in buildings like this.’

Bedwyr Williams’ MILQUETOAST is a Southwark Park Galleries touring exhibition in partnership with Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham, Aberystwyth Arts Centre and KARST, Plymouth. It opens at KARST on Friday 24 September and will be on display until 18 December. The tour concludes in Aberystwyth with a display from January to March 2022. Admission is free.

MILQUETOAST is supported by the Arts Council of Wales, The Colwinston Charitable Trust, The Paul and Louise Cooke Endowment, Arts Council England, Southwark Council, Omni Colour, Wrexham County Borough Council, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion County Council, Theatrum Mundi and King’s College London.

About Bedwyr Williams
Bedwyr Williams lives and works in North Wales. Solo exhibitions include ‘Foundation of things to Come’, Fondazione Sandretto de Rebaudengo, Turin, ‘The Gulch’, The Curve, Barbican Art Centre, 2016 ‘The Starry Messenger’, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 2015, ‘Echt’, Tramway, Glasgow, 2014 ‘My Bad’, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK. Recent group exhibitions include ‘Adapt to Survive: Notes from the Future’, Hayward Gallery, London, 2018. ‘The Land We Live in – The Land We Left Behind’, Hauser and Wirth Somerset, 2018. ‘Stress Field’, Hubei Museum of Art, China. In 2013 he represented Wales at the Venice Biennale and was shortlisted for the Artes Mundi Prize in 2016. He is represented by Southard Reid, London.

Image credits: Bedwyr Williams, Untitled Instagram Drawing, 2020. 25cmx25cm, Digital Drawing. © Bedwyr Williams.

Studio open call

In October, two studios will become available at KARST and we are inviting applications from artists interested in joining KARST’s community. Applications are judged on individual artist’s needs and scope for progression. Priority is given to artists who are able to evidence a sustained practice and potential for further development within their work.

Studio Facilities & Membership

  • 24-hour access
  • Limited number of allocated parking spaces
  • Full alarm and CCTV system
  • Kitchen facilities and communal social area
  • Meeting / conference room
  • Access to technical equipment
  • Access to a loading bay (by arrangement if Studio 2 is occupied)
  • Opportunities for studio visits / critique with art professionals
  • Artist links on KARST’s website
  • Promotional opportunities including via KARST’s social media and newsletter

 Available studios

  • Studio 3: Individual, 2.1m x 4.1m at £90 pcm
  • Studio 8: Individual, 2.1m x 4.4m at £105 pcm










Studio entrance includes a set of 4 stairs. Once inside the building, KARST is on one level with accessible facilities. Accessible entrance to the building is via the gallery entrance which includes a wheelchair platform lift. This point of entry is limited to public opening hours and by appointment.

Selection Criteria

Spaces are reviewed and assessed by a selection panel, comprising KARST staff and board members. The application process is identical to the six-monthly project proposals existing studio holders make every April and October when they reapply for their studios.

Applicants are considered on the basis of:

  • An active and critically engaged contemporary art practice
  • Clarity of direction of work
  • Established networks within and beyond Plymouth
  • Evidently exhibiting work on a regional, national or international level
  • Willingness to proactively participate in regular studio meetings and peer sessions
  • Commitment of at least 15 hours per week to onsite studio practice
  • Fit with the current community of studio artists and their practices
  • Progression since graduation. New applicants within higher education are not eligible to apply, with the exception of research-based PhD practice.

Key dates

  • Deadline: 17th Sept
  • Tenancy begins: 1st Oct

Application process
All applicants are encouraged to visit our website and arrange a meeting with staff or residents before applying to find out the suitability of the studio in relation to their practice.

All applications must include a completed application which includes supporting information, such as images, relevant links, artist CV and appropriate references based on the selection criteria.

Successful applicants will be invited for an informal discussion about studio provision prior to a final offer of tenancy.

For more information and to discuss your application contact

KARST reopens with increased accessibility, environmental credentials and new exhibition

KARST completed an extensive refurbishment before reopening in July this year with the Plymouth Contemporary 21 open exhibition.

Occupying a 7,000 sq. ft. industrial unit, the gallery is a more accessible and environmentally friendly space ahead of hosting the British Art Show 9 next year.

The gallery and studios now have increased physical access and an energy-efficient heating system, meaning the building can remain open throughout the year. In addition, there is zonal lighting, increased insulation, and better use of natural light.

KARST worked with LHC Architects to create a phased capital development programme called Unlocking Creative Space (UCS) that will shift the gallery and studios into a new period of sustainable growth. The renovations conclude the first phase of the UCS plan.

A new accessible entrance and disabled access platform lift at ground floor level provide first floor access for the first time for wheelchair users and those with young children in pushchairs. In addition, a fully accessible and DDA compliant toilet is available.

KARST Executive Director Donna Howard said the improvements would increase operational time and programming capacity, attracting more artists and major exhibitions.

She added: “For the first time, we will operate as a cultural space that is both physically and visibly accessible to all. We believe everyone should enjoy culture. These improvements ensure that we remove the physical barriers to participation and are accessible and welcoming for all.”

The refurbishment of the space includes double-glazed windows and doors to allow natural ventilation, increase thermal performance and improve comfort levels. The works will simultaneously provide a more stable and secure environment for showing contemporary art. Environmentally considerate design, such as the use of more natural daylight, has also been incorporated.

The gallery received a grant of £270,000 from the Arts Council’s Small Capital Grants funding programme, which focuses on providing organisations with the proper facilities to produce and present great work. The fund enables organisations to develop resilience and become more sustainable businesses.

The Arts Council grant brought the total investment in the project to more than £400k. Other generous supporters of the project are Garfield Weston, Foyle Foundation, The Box, and Plymouth City Council (PCC).

The gallery reopened on 7th July as a co-host for Plymouth Contemporary 2021 alongside the Arts Institute and in partnership with The Box.

The exhibition is free, with no booking required. Open Wednesday-Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm.


Artists announced for Plymouth Contemporary 2021

An international line-up of established and emerging creative talent has been selected for exhibition at this year’s Plymouth Contemporary.

Twenty-nine artists from around the world, working across different and varying disciplines including fine art and performance, will exhibit 44 works of art for this third staging of the prestigious event.

Held across two galleries in the city – KARST and the University of Plymouth’s Levinsky Gallery – and with support from The Box, Plymouth Contemporary 2021 will run from 7 July – 5 September, and will explore the theme of ‘Making It’.

“Plymouth Contemporary 2021 is testament to the unbridled creativity of our contemporary artists,”

said Mary Costello, Exhibitions Coordinator for The Arts Institute at the University.

“Despite all challenges, they continue ‘making it’ and have responded to this theme in a myriad of interesting, intriguing and innovative ways. Most of all, the sheer joy of creating shines through, and we’re delighted to invite the public to visit this celebration of today’s contemporary artists.”

First staged in 2015, the Plymouth Contemporary supports new ideas and a risk-taking approach across all art forms, and previously featured artists – such as Naomi Frears, Thomas Goddard and Michael Cox – have gone on to achieve national and international success.

For the 2021 event, an open call was made to artists to respond to the Making It theme – and more than 130 from Europe and America submitted proposals. Some focused upon the act of making or shaping a physical work or idea. Others interpreted it in terms of success or making a difference to people or the community.

A selection panel, including renowned artist Heather Phillipson and independent arts consultant, writer and mentor Manick Govinda, as well as representatives from the University, The Box and KARST, then considered the submissions and selected the final line up.

Nicoletta Lambertucci, Contemporary Art Curator at The Box, said:

“After an incredibly tough year for the creative sector, I am thrilled to finally see Plymouth Contemporary 2021 taking shape with such a strong list of artists. It is a project that offers an insightful commentary on the world through a diverse range of practices. It has been great to be part of the selection panel, I really enjoyed the process and I look forward to seeing the exhibition.”

“It was a great pleasure to be on the selection panel for this year’s Plymouth Contemporary, and to be able to get an insight on how artists interpreted the theme of ‘Making It’,”

added Manick Govinda.

“The process was rigorous, enlightening and I am delighted by the choices we collectively made. I look forward to seeing the show.”

Among those to be selected, include:

  • Anna Chrystal Stephens, who uses sculpture, action and photography. Anna’s two pieces – Hack Sink and Paracord – reference both the extreme difficulties facing artists in the current climate, and the joy of using creativity to envisage positive alternative futures;
  • Jennifer Taylor, who works across live performance, film and sculpture. Jennifer will produce two pieces – Lunar Dawn and Voyager – that explore ritualistic behaviour and systems of control, each with a distinctive lo-fi, makeshift aesthetic;
  • Harriet Bowman, who works with sculpture, text and performance. Harriet will be exhibiting an audio piece of work and a sculpture, which showcase her fascination with leather, but also themes such as grief and aspiration; and
  • Andy Harper, who works in paint. Andy will be exhibiting a new oil painting, Gaze Contingent.
    Members of the public will be able to attend Plymouth Contemporary 2021 without the need to book. Several prizes will also be awarded before the end of the exhibition.

Ben Borthwick, Head of Creative Programme at KARST, said:

“Plymouth Contemporary 2021 will be the first time KARST reopens its doors to the public since a major refurbishment and upgrade of our building. We can’t wait to invite visitors back into our massively improved space to see the exciting range of works on display. KARST is really pleased to have partnered on Plymouth Contemporary since it was created as it continues to go from strength to strength.”

The full list of artists selected for exhibition are: Camilla Alberti, Chris Alton, Bridgette Ashton, Bruce Asbestos, Kelly Best + Herbivore, Caroline Bugby, Gordon Dalton, Kez Dearmer, Stephanie Douet, Nick Ervinck, Rosalind Faram, Damian Griffiths, Andy Harper, Sadie Hennessy, Will Hughes, Seungjo Jeong, Dean Knight, Molly Erin McCarthy, Charlotte McGuinness, James Moore, Paula Morison, Sang-Mi Rha, Janet Sainsbury, Anna Chrystal Stephens, Jennifer Taylor, Marianne Walker, Kate Williams and K. Yoland.


KARST is seeking an experienced, ambitious and dynamic Administrator, to provide effective and efficient business support services to the management team and staff.

The role requires
You should be a hugely organised team player with a proactive attitude, good communication skills and a passion for organisation and accuracy. Reporting to the Head of Operations, the administrator will support the smooth running of the premises, office systems, and programmes. The candidate will be un-phased by a diverse and wide-reaching workload and comfortable forming relationships with a range of stakeholders, contractors and suppliers.

For further information and to make an application please download the following PDFs:

Download the Administrator Candidate PackAdministrator Candidate Pack (pdf)

Download the Administrator Candidate PackKARST Equality and Diversity Form (pdf)

Themes for British Art Show 9

British Art Show 9 will focus on migration when it reaches Plymouth next year, speaking to the city’s longstanding maritime history and its role in colonisation.

The show’s overall themes are Healing, Care and Reparative History; Tactics for Togetherness, and Imagining New Futures, all agreed on before the Covid-19 pandemic and the global recognition of racial injustice sparked by the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. The curators say the themes have now become even more relevant and urgent in the present moment.

Hayward Touring curator Brian Cass said: “British Art Show 9 takes the temperature of Britain between the previous iteration of the show in 2016 – when the country voted in favour of leaving the European Union, and today – with the implications of Covid-19 still unfolding.”

After opening in Aberdeen in July 2021, British Art Show 9 tours to Wolverhampton and Manchester before arriving in Plymouth in October 2022. The exhibition will change with and adapt to each of its four host cities as a cumulative experience, presenting different combinations of artists and artworks that respond to their distinctive local contexts.

KARST Head of Creative Programme Ben Borthwick said: “Plymouth has long been celebrated as a city that looks out to the world, where journeys that have reshaped our knowledge of the world were launched. BAS9’s focus on migration, climate change and colonisation is a fantastic opportunity to situate how local histories are implicated in this global context.”

Almost half of the artists will be producing new work for the show. Two artists creating work for the Plymouth iteration have been announced: Alberta Whittle and Cooking Sections.

Alberta Whittle explores the legacies of slavery and racial injustice. Her work, Hindsight is a luxury you cannot afford (2021) was commissioned by Hayward Gallery Touring and The Box for British Art Show 9 and made possible with Art Fund support.

Cooking Sections use a combination of art, architecture and ecology to address urgent issues concerning food and climate. Their work will form part of the programme of creative learning and participation in Plymouth, with the support of Arts Council England’s Project Grant for National Activities.

Cooking Sections’ project will also be presented during the first leg of the tour in Aberdeen, where the artist duo will continue their collaboration with local people from the Scottish islands Skye and Raasay to develop programmes that counteract the devastating effects of the salmon farming industry.

Alongside its physical locations, British Art Show 9 will also exist digitally. The newly launched British Art Show 9 website will act as a fifth location, which the curators describe as key to connecting the cities and extending the show’s reach. This digital space will offer artists the opportunity to show works across a range of media and formats.

A film programme featuring a selection of films will be shown on a rolling basis in each of the four host cities and online, expanding the selection of works and on view.

BAS9 is curated by Irene Aristizábal and Hammad Nasar who say: “The show appears at a precarious moment in Britain’s history, which has brought politics of identity and nation, concerns of social, racial, and environmental justice, and questions of agency to the centre of public consciousness. The artists presented in the exhibition will respond in critical ways to this complex context. Through their works, they imagine new futures, propose alternative economies, explore new modes of resistance and find ways of living together. They do so through film, photography, painting, sculpture, and performance and through multimedia projects that don’t sit easily in any one category.”

KARST to receive £42000 from second round of Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

KARST has received a grant of £42000 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen.

More than £300 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country including KARST in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary announced today. Plymouth’s latest cultural offering, The Box, is among the other recipients in the city.

Alongside providing increased financial stability for KARST, the grant will contribute towards increasing physical access to the gallery by enabling the installation of a contactless entry system. The system will help to reduce any future risk of COVID-19 transmission as KARST reopens to the public.

Additionally, a proportion of the grant will support an ongoing reduction in studio hire fees to help KARST studio artists emerge from the pandemic. The grant will also be used to engage a consultant to develop and implement a post-COVID fundraising strategy and campaign.

More than £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

“Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced.

Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”

Donna Howard, Executive Director, said:

“We are delighted to receive this support from the Culture Recovery Fund. As well as contributing to ongoing operating costs which would ordinarily have been met through income generated, a significant amount of this grant will be used to create a reserves fund, giving KARST financial security for the first time as we continue to grow.

The grant will also support fundraising generation which will be essential for KARST’s sustainability in the run-up to British Art Show 9 and beyond.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said:

“Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic. These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work.

We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”

The funding awarded today is from a £400 million pot which was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by Arts Council England, as well as Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

KARST awarded funding for international digital collaboration

KARST has been awarded funding to research a digital solution to international artistic collaboration restrictions because of the Covid-19 epidemic.

KARST will receive money from the British Council Arts Digital Collaboration Fund to research the development of a collaborative digital platform that aims to preserve and interpret Highlife’s legacy, reinventing it for a new generation of musicians and audiences in Ghana and internationally.

Highlife is a music genre that originated in the early 20th century in present-day Ghana. It uses traditional Akan music’s melodic and main rhythmic structures but is played with Western instruments. Characterised by horns and multiple guitars, in the 1970s it acquired an uptempo, synth-driven sound.

Through the project Mogya Na Nsuo (Blood and Water), KARST will work with UK artist Larry Achiampong and Julia Greenway, a curator focussing on how digital media influences the aesthetic presentation of gender, economics, and environment. It is a collaboration with the Bokoor African Popular Music Archive Foundation in Ghana.

Continue reading “KARST awarded funding for international digital collaboration”

New dates announced for British Art Show 9

New dates for the UK’s most influential contemporary art exhibition, British Art Show 9 (BAS 9), have been confirmed today. The nationwide tour will culminate in Plymouth from 8 October to 23 December 2022. Prior to this, the exhibition will be displayed in Aberdeen, Wolverhampton and Manchester.

Held every five years to showcase the work of British artists who have made a significant contribution to international contemporary art, BAS9 will be shown across four city venues – KARST, The Box, The Levinsky Gallery at the University of Plymouth and The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art.

Continue reading “New dates announced for British Art Show 9”

KARST appoints curator Ben Borthwick as Head of Creative Programme

Ben BorthwickBen starts the newly created role immediately and will lead the development of the exhibition and studio programmes, working with KARST’s co-founder and Executive Director Donna Howard to deliver the organisation’s ambitions in Plymouth and at national and international levels.

Ben combines working internationally with grass roots artist development and community engagement. He was previously Artistic Director of Plymouth Arts Centre, CEO of the Cardiff-based international art prize Artes Mundi and Assistant Curator at Tate Modern.

He said: “I am delighted to be joining KARST at this transitional moment in its development. Since I moved to Plymouth KARST has been a consistently radical and independent voice in the city’s rapidly expanding arts ecology. I am excited to building on KARST’s support for artistic practice and experimentation while expanding the scope of the programme through dialogue with artists, partners and audiences across the city, nationally and internationally.”

KARST Executive Director Donna Howard said Ben Borthwick’s appointment was another step in the development of creating an internationally renowned contemporary arts space of the future.