Blog Archive

12 05 2020

Open Call

With thanks to Arts Council England we are pleased to announce our new online programme which means we can continue to share new work, support the making of work and engage with projects from the safety of our homes.

As part of our online programme we have a series of commissions and bursaries aimed at exploring, responding to and documenting the current historical and significant time we are experiencing.

The commissions and bursaries will support photographers and writers to make new work in isolation ( at a social distance), reflecting on these times & contributing to creativity and wellbeing.  Outcomes will be shared with audiences via our digital platforms. (Health & safety is particularly important, all projects must follow the government guidelines for the lockdown and social distancing).

We are interested in work that responds to the following themes; Social Distancing, Family, Community, Caring, Togetherness, Relationships, Health & Wellbeing, The Economy, Work, Key Workers.

We welcome applications from diverse backgrounds. If applicants have any additional needs and would like support with their application please do get in touch at

There are a number of strands to this programme and the opportunities are open to photographers, artists and writers who are based in England. Please send your applications to, within your email please state which strand of the programme you are applying for.

Commission: Fee £2000, Deadline 10th June 2020

  • We are awarding 2 commissions aimed at artists & photographers with a track record of producing high quality work.
  • A strong commitment to working at a professional level
  • Ambition for their work and practice
  • The work created must be able to be shared digitally
  • The work must be made in a 5 month period between June and October 2020.
  • To Submit please send your CV, examples of previous work & website links, and description of the work you propose to do (maximum 500 words) to

Micro Bursary: Fee £500, Deadline 15th June 2020

  • We are awarding 6 bursaries aimed at emerging artists & photographers including recent graduates  from 2020.
  • The bursary will also include advice from the GRAIN team.
  • The work created must be able to be shared digitally before October 2020.
  • To Submit please send your CV, examples of previous work & website links, and description of the work you propose to do (maximum 200 words)

Writing Bursary: Fee £250, Deadline 15th June 2020

  • We are awarding 2 writing bursaries.
  • The work created must be for text that has a photographic theme.
  • Submit a CV, examples of previous work & website links, and a short synopsis of the writing you would undertake to

Photographer Andy Pilsbury was awarded a Photobook bursary to support the development, creation and production of a new photobook dummy. The bursary includes professional feedback and guidance through a number of portfolio reviews with industry professionals.

Titled The Flesh & the Fantasy, the book dummy presents five stories connected by the export of American culture and its manifestation by outsiders in the UK. Interwoven with dreams and reality, or flesh and fantasy, Andy presents a multi layered narrative of symbolism, ideology and culture that journey through different genres and iconic subcultures commenting on both historic and contemporary themes.

With the American Dream becoming toxic and corroded in the USA, there still is an allure to Europeans who seek to transcend the monotony of life at home through embracing American narratives and clichés.

The timing of this work is extremely notable with the run up to the American elections, Trumpism and its political impact and the UK’s so-called special relationship with the US, alongside our positioning in Europe post Brexit.

Andy used long time friends and collaborators, Wild Ilk to design the book, and it was printed by Team Impression in Leeds.  Hardback 200 x 250mm, perfect bind, 107 pages.

As part of the bursary, Andy was able to attend the FORMAT International Photography Festival portfolio reviews to present the book dummy to a range of industry leaders including figures from galleries, agencies, magazines, media, photography festivals and publishing. Throughout the day the work was received very positively with plenty of feedback to move the project forward.

Andy Pilsbury is a photographer whose particular interest is the presentation of American culture within the UK. Drawn to communities, individuals and subcultures he forms wider narratives based on his own experience and notable historic and contemporary themes.

Alongside personal and commissioned projects he works as a Senior Photography Technician at Birmingham City University, educating students in the craft. He is commercially represented by Lisa Pritchard Agency, London.

Grain Projects, New Art West Midlands, Aarhus Billedkunstcenter and Galleri Image are delighted to announce that Laura Dicken has been selected as the successful recipient of the International Bursary 2020. Laura will now undertake a period of research in Aarhus, Denmark, in March 2020.

Laura’s research proposal was selected by representatives from each of the four organisations from a batch of very strong and exciting proposals. The panel were particularly impressed by the focused, specific approach Laura took to her proposal and by the clear case she made for the impact of the bursary upon the development of her practice.

Laura’s work ‘You Are Another Me’ explores migration through the lens of the female (and female identifying) experience. The project includes portraits and stories of women from a broad spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities who have, for various reasons, migrated alone. By facilitating the telling of these disparate stories she hopes to bring new voices to the migration narrative and to highlight not only the vast differences but to celebrate and illuminate the many similarities. Having worked with participants in Copenhagen, in a pilot of this project, Laura is now able to use her research methodologies to connect with communities in Aarhus, to promote understanding, compassion, international cooperation and collaboration.

Laura’s ongoing body of work is a series of projects which are collaborations with individuals, communities and arts organisations. Through her work Laura hopes to create opportunities for previously untold stories to be shared authentically and with agency. Her process is built around meaningful connection, conversation, workshops and photography. Laura is interested in illuminating the shared human experience and celebrating the extraordinary ordinary.

About New Art West Midlands
New Art West Midlands is the Contemporary Visual Arts Network for the region. Our purpose is to strengthen and develop the contemporary visual arts sector in the West Midlands, creating defining opportunities for West Midlands’ artists and curators, and working collectively to safeguard the future of artists and our sector.

About Galleri Image
Galleri Image is a non-profit exhibition space, which aims to promote high quality photo-based art by showing Danish and international photography and video art. Founded in 1977, the gallery is the longest running non-profit exhibition space for photographic art in Scandinavia, and for many years it was also the only photo gallery in Denmark. Over the past 40 years, Galleri Image has achieved an international reputation for its exhibitions and has contributed considerably to the recognition and understanding of photography as an important and independent medium in the world of visual art. Based in Aarhus, Denmark, and with free entry to all its shows, the gallery regularly hosts talks, discussions, seminars, workshops and guided exhibition tours. We actively seek to support young talents and frequently tour our exhibitions around the world.

About Aarhus Billedkunstcenter
Aarhus Center for Visual Art (Aarhus Billedkunstcenter, AaBKC) is an artist resource center serving visual artists in Denmark’s Central Jutland region. Based in Aarhus, Aarhus Center for Visual Art strengthens the local arts community by creating opportunities for networking and collaboration between artists and institutions, offering professional development services to artists, facilitating discourse and community outreach with public art events and hosting residencies for local and international artists and art professionals.

Photo Credit: Laura Dicken

The GRAIN Bursary is an award to a photographer or artist working in photography.

The bursary offers an award of £2,000 to support the making of new work in the rural West Midlands.  For this bursary opportunity we are seeking proposals from those who are interested in making new work in and with rural communities. The work must be made within a 12-month period of receiving the bursary award.

The bursary supports artistic development, experimentation and the production of new work, rather than an exhibition, touring or display of finished work. It offers time to explore processes and try out new ideas. The applicant must have a photographic practice.

The bursary is not a commission or production grant but a package of support focusing on research and process that can be used flexibly according to the successful recipient.

The West Midlands region is made up of the following areas; Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire. Further information about the region can be found here.

This opportunity is part of a broader series of continued professional development opportunities conceived and developed by GRAIN, supported by Arts Council England and Birmingham City University.

The applicant must be based in England and must submit their application by 5pm, 31 January 2019.

For more information about the bursary and how to apply please click here.

Selection Process:
A panel of photography experts will shortlist candidates for interview from the applications received.  Interviews will take place in Birmingham during February and can be arranged as Skype conversations. At interview, interviewees will be expected to speak in more detail about their work and working processes and the approach that they envisage.

Selection Panel:
GRAIN Projects
Camilla Brown, Curator, Writer and Lecturer
Jennie Anderson. Directory of Argentea Gallery
John Hillman. Professor of Photography, Educator, Researcher and Image Maker

For queries and further information about this opportunity, please contact:


Our collaborative bursary has been awarded to Lily Wales for the research and development activity she is undertaking into themes of nuclear warfare and its language.

This ongoing enquiry and work will be enhanced by a research trip to the Nevada Testing Site and Atomic Testing Museum near Las Vegas.

Specialising in handmade photomontage, Lily often uses found images, photography and text to explore how language anesthetises the audiences’ perception of the subject, such as atomic bombs personified by being given human names, and the absurd language used in films demonstrating how to survive a nuclear attack.

The bursary will provide an opportunity to make new work, collect, shoot and collate imagery from Nevada, and gather resources and research materials from the Atomic Testing Museum.  The opportunity will also give the artist an insight into the immense scale and geography of the site and the activities that have happened there, a sense of the past and an opportunity to expand her practice.

Image credit: Lily Wales; Operation Plumbob, 2017

Nuclearosis 2017

Lily Wales; Nuclearosis 2017

Bursary awarded in collaboration with:


Engine and GRAIN are jointly offering a bursary of £1,000 to an artist living and working in the West Midlands region. Photography should be an integral element of the artist’s practice. The bursary should be used to make a significant impact on the artist’s professional development and can be used for travel, accommodation, research, mentoring or course fees.

Please apply by sending a proposal of no more than 500 words outlining how you would use the bursary if successful.  This should be accompanied by 3 images of recent work, your website details, budget projections and your cv. Applications should be sent to  by 5pm on 15 May.

A decision will be made by 5 June and applicants will be informed during that week. The successful applicant will be expected to write a brief evaluation report.

Engine is a professional development programme for artists and curators in the West Midlands region. It is delivered by The New Art Gallery Walsall in partnership with New Art West Midlands and a range of other partners.

Image Credit: Anthony Simon Harries, GRAIN Prize, RBSA Photography Exhibition

Copyright 2016 GRAIN.