Skip to main content


Outside In & Project Art Works offer Explorers residencies

A photograph from the Project Art Works section of the Turner Prize exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. The image shows a young man leaning on a large sheet of paper on the floor, about to draw or write on the paper. Around him are pens, rolls of tape, ipads, a charger and a tin containing additional stationery. Large storage units with cardboard trays and shelves in a metal frame stand tall behind him. Hanging on one wall is a large, circular artwork, consisting of rings painted in different colours, like a target.

Neurodivergent artists are invited to apply for residencies at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and The New Art Gallery Walsall

An easy read version of this call-out is available to read here

In 2016 Project Art Works were awarded an Ambition for Excellence grant by Arts Council England to deliver the Explorers programme. Taking place against a backdrop of increased hardship and intolerance toward disabled people, the aim has been to develop positive relationships between cultural organisations and the social care sector and to reposition people who have complex needs at the forefront of mainstream culture.

The initial project has included awareness raising and encounter workshops, happenings, productions, commissions, exhibitions and seminars in collaboration with people who have complex needs and those who support them.

Following their recent work in Coventry as part of the Turner Prize exhibition and supporting programme, Project Art Works are once again partnering with the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum to offer one of three planned artist residencies in the West Midlands, in partnership with Outside In.

The Residency Opportunity

This opportunity will support three artists who are neurodivergent to develop work over 5-weeks with the support and guidance from both participating organisations and a virtual or studio visit from a lead artist.

Artists who are interested in applying, or people who support and advocate for artists, are asked to complete this application form with a proposal outlining how they would like to use the residency.

The successful artists will receive:

  • £1475 fee (inclusive of travel)
  • Up to £300 for materials
  • In-kind support (virtual or in person studio visits and curatorial guidance, advocacy and a presence across Outside In, The New Art Gallery Walsall and The Herbert Art Gallery online platforms as well as shared through the Explorers social media presence)
  • Access to remote technical advice, as appropriate
  • Access to a lead artist for 1 x visit
  • Additional budget for access costs including support at our Artist Support Days for guidance on your application

Residency at the Herbert Art Gallery

We are offering one studio-based residency at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, which will include:

The use of a self-contained community space on-site, including a sink and table space. If this is not suitable or accessible for the selected artist, the artist may also choose to work at their usual place of making.

  • Access to the Herbert Collections facilitated by the curatorial team
  • Potential additional support from other arts organisations based in Coventry as appropriate
  • A final event or sharing, to be confirmed with Senior Curator Martin Roberts

Residencies at the New Art Gallery Walsall

The Explorers Project is also offering two studio-based residencies with The New Art Gallery Walsall, including:

  • The use of a fully equipped, bespoke artist studio space situated in the heart of the Gallery. If this is not suitable or accessible for the selected artist, the artist may also choose to work at their usual place of making.
  • Time and space to develop a self-directed body of work.
  • This may involve testing new ideas or approaches to their work, without pressure to produce exhibition-ready work.
  • A public in-conversation or sharing event (whichever is more appropriate for the artists), facilitated by The New Art Gallery Walsall

The two residencies will take place independently of each other but there will be a crossover week, where the artists will come together and share the studio, which may spark dialogue, support and exchange.

The format and date for these residencies are TBC in consultation with the selected artists and Exhibitions and Artists’ Projects Curator, Zoë Lippett.

Who can apply?

This opportunity is open to visual artists who are neurodivergent, working in any medium, who are based in the Midlands. We would like to select artists who either are able to advocate for themselves, or have a person who can support and advocate for them to:

  • Actively engage in developing their practice with a demonstrable existing body of work
  • Generate work that can be shared and/or made accessible to a virtual audience
  • Commit time to the project each week over a 5-week period
  • Accommodate a lead artist virtual or studio visit
  • Be happy for artwork made to be shared on all partner websites to show the outcome of the residency

Applicants should not be in full-time education, but part-time students are welcome to apply.

Residency Dates

The New Art Gallery Walsall Residencies

Residency 1: 18 July – week ending 21 August 2022 for 5 weeks at 2 x days a week.
Lead Artist studio visit to be confirmed in consultation with the artists chosen

Residency 2:  15 August – week ending 18 September 2022
Lead Artist studio visit to be confirmed in consultation with artist chosen

There will be a Crossover Week, where both artists based at The New Art Gallery Walsall will be present in the studio: (15 – 21 August) for dialogue, exchange and support.

The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum Residency

10 October – week ending 11 November 2022 for 5 weeks at 2 days per week.

There will be an opportunity for the artist to present their work through a final output event TBC.

Lead Artist studio visit to be confirmed in consultation with the artist chosen.

Other key dates

Submissions open week commencing: 23 May 2022

Applications close: 9am Monday 20 June 2022

Selection announced: 27 June 2022

Announcement (for all residencies): Monday 4 July 2022

How to apply

To apply for this opportunity, please see this application form.

Artists, or the person that supports and advocates for them can submit in different formats, including audio or film.

An easy read version of the call out is also available here.

For any enquiries regarding this opportunity, please contact José Sunshine-Okoro, Midlands Hub Programme Manager.

Do you need some support applying?

The Explorers Project will also be running Artist Support Days in the Midlands where artists can gain support to apply for this opportunity.

Sessions will take place on the following dates:

9.30am-5pm, Thursday 9 June 2022 at The New Art Gallery Walsall, WS2 8LG.
9.30am-5pm, Thursday 16 June 2022 at mac Birmingham, B12 9QH.

To find out more or to book onto a 1-hour session, please email

We recognise that people are often excluded from opportunities because institutions and organisations may not make provision to meet their ongoing support needs, so we are committed to fully supporting the selected artists as best we can throughout the residency period. We are happy to discuss an artist’s support needs as part of the application process.

About the Explorers Project

Explorers 2021-2023, aims to create equity for neurominorities and carers in civic and cultural life, creating platforms for neurodivergent people and pathways for cultural organisations to deepen their understanding and commit to inviting neurodivergent people and carers into their spaces. The project intends to change the discourse of how neurodivergent people are positioned and described in culture.

About Outside In

Outside In is an established national charity, founded in 2006. It aims to provide a platform for artists who face significant barriers to the art world due to health, disability, social circumstance or isolation. Outside In’s work covers three main areas: artist development, exhibitions and training. These activities, supported by fundraising and communications, all aim to create a fairer art world by supporting artists, creating opportunities and influencing arts organisations.

About Project Art Works

Project Art Works is a collective of neurodiverse artists and activists based in Hastings, UK. Intersecting ART and CARE, they promote the rights and representation of neuro-minorities through an expansive art practice, embracing holistic and practical support for individuals and caregivers alongside established artistic outputs. Working in partnership nationally and internationally, they seek to reverse the entrenched power dynamics of inclusion, and to provide genuine opportunities for people to represent themselves within culture and society.

Definition of complex needs

The term ‘complex needs’ embraces a number of neurodiverse states of being such as severe learning disability and/or autism and/or cognitive impairments and/or behaviours described as challenging that combine to produce multiple and intersecting support needs. Sometimes these are also combined with complex physical needs as well. People with learning disabilities and behaviours that challenge are some of the most excluded in society. This is because they are very often dependent on carers and agencies for access to the wider world and experiences such as art and culture.