Ben 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.
KARST is one of the South West’s leading independent visual arts gallery and studio complexes and the appointment comes at a key time. The gallery is currently closed for refurbishment and will reopen later this year. In 2021 KARST will co-host the British Art Show 9 when it comes to Plymouth.
Brian Cass, Senior Curator, Hayward Gallery Touring, said: “I am delighted that Ben Borthwick has been appointed. Ben brings with him a wealth of knowledge, curatorial experience, as well as a deep understanding of the art scene in Plymouth. I very much look forward to working closely with Ben and the team at KARST as we develop British Art Show 9 in collaboration with our partners in the city.”
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 has curated exhibitions and commissions by artists including Bruce Nauman, Rose Wylie, Heather Phillipson, Andrea Büttner, Rosa Barba, Gilbert & George, Latifa Echakhch, Carsten Nicolai, Meschac Gaba, Suzanne Treister, Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, Ciara Phillips, Shezad Dawood, Megan Broadmeadow, Kelly Best and Clare Thornton and well as group shows, residencies and a long running artist’s moving image programme in Plymouth Arts Centre’s cinema. He was public programmes curator for two editions of miART, the Milan art fair.
He is currently Associate Curator at The Edge Arts Centre, University of Bath where he will curate an exhibition of new work by Flo Brooks in 2021 in partnership with Brighton CCA. He regularly writes for exhibition catalogues and has published widely on contemporary art and experimental music.
Ben is also a trustee of Chapter and has served on many other boards and committees, including as Deputy Chair of Visual Arts South West, the selection panel for the British Pavilion at Venice Biennale in 2013 and as National Advisor to Arts Council of Wales.
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.
She said: “We set up KARST after doing a pop-up project when British Art Show 7 came to the city in 2011. It has taken us less than a decade to come this far and our ambition is to develop further and to be the best we can be. We are committed to continue working hard to develop our contemporary arts offer to attract new and diverse audiences.”
Paula Orrell, Network Manager Visual Arts South West, added: “Ben’s appointment ensures KARST’s commitment to developing and platforming contemporary art in Plymouth. He set alight the contemporary art scene in Plymouth as former Artistic Director of Plymouth Arts Centre. KARST is going from strength to strength and set to become one of the UK’s preeminent contemporary gallery spaces and studio developments. Ben’s excellent curatorial approach and dedication to artists’ work what KARST needs now.”