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Open Calls

LOOK UP 2021
Call for Artists and Mentors

LOOK UP 2021, produced by ArtReach, will be a collaborative visual arts mentorship programme, hosted by Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, United Kingdom, and coculture, Berlin, Germany.

Four European-based artists from sanctuary-seeking backgrounds will be mentored by established arts professionals to create new visual artworks for the public realm. The artists will develop new work which will be installed in Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth as part of Journeys Festival International 2021 (15th – 25th October), and will take part in two short residencies which will take place between June-August 2021, at Aspex, Portsmouth and coculture, Berlin, and/or online- dependent on COVID travel restrictions.

LOOK UP Leicester 2019 — Portrait of a City

Details and Eligibility


There will be a fee for each artist of £3,000, as well as access to an additional materials and travel budget.  

To apply, artists must be:

  • Able to produce new work in a digital format for exhibition in public spaces
  • From a sanctuary-seeking background or with refugee heritage
  • Under the age of 30
  • Europe-based (UK and EU)
  • Permitted to work in their country of residence


Two mentors will be selected to work with the artists, facilitate the residencies in Portsmouth, Berlin or online, and guide the creation process of the new work.  

There will be a fee for each mentor of £1,800 to cover mentoring support across several sessions between June-October 2021.

To apply, mentors must be:

  • Experienced in creating/exhibiting artworks for the public realm
  • Established in their career as an artist or arts professional
  • Able to inspire and encourage early career artists in their aspirations, providing practical insight and guidance
  • Able to support artists from a sanctuary-seeking background or with refugee heritage
  • Europe-based (UK and EU)
  • Permitted to work in their country of residence

For details on how to apply please read further below.

Artist, Svetlana Ochkovskaya, discusses LOOK UP 2019, Searching for Home, at Journeys Festival International Portsmouth 2019 at Aspex Gallery.

How to Apply


The opportunity will allow selected artists to create new work that explores the role of art in the public realm and the impact of social messaging in public spaces. It will give young artists who are new to the UK/EU the opportunity to create a response to their new country / city / environment and exchange their views, feelings and opinions of this with their peers. Through mentoring support, artists will be challenged to develop their practice and create new work that is site responsive and of a significant scale, impacting the place/s it is installed.

Artists will attend two short, intensive residencies (either in person or online) that will be designed to explore and exchange ideas as well as develop relationships between the artists and mentors. Artistic ideas for the work will be formed and developed at these sessions, alongside learning about similar approaches taken by established artists/arts professionals working in this field. Between and after these sessions, artists will create the new work and have access to the mentor to discuss progress and finalise the work.  


The final work will be in a 2D digital format which can be easily resized and reproduced to be installed on existing city infrastructure, such as but not limited to: billboards (digital and paper), buses and public transport, public poster sites, phone boxes, internet distribution boxes, flags and sail banners etc. Publicly installed work will be documented to allow for it to also be shown in a gallery context.

We are particularly interested in thought provoking responses to the current social moment, in line with the uplifting sentiment of the project title LOOK UP.


Artist applications will be via this form: LOOK UP 2021 Artist Application
Mentor applications be via this form: LOOK UP 2021 Mentor Application
Application deadline:  Monday 19th April, 10:00am

To submit your application in another format or language please email


Journeys Festival International is an annual arts festival that takes place in Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth. The festival curates, presents and commissions a varied programme of work created by artists that explores the refugee experience and global cultures through artistic and creative encounters.


LIBERTY EU is an exciting international arts programme exploring and celebrating freedom, led by ArtReach. Focusing on the positive impact of creative integration through art and culture, LIBERTY EU is an ambitious and innovative creative response to current challenges facing the European Union. For more information visit: LIBERTY EU

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Aspex Gallery is Portsmouth’s leading contemporary art gallery, and has been supporting emerging artists and makers for 40 years. For further information see


coculture is a Berlin-based non-profit organisation created as a response to the challenges faced by displaced cultural producers in the Middle East, Europe and beyond. coculture focuses on addressing different facets of these issues through a broad scope of projects and activities, ranging from artistic to socially-oriented, aiming to improve the situation of artists in exile while actively contributing to the local cultural scene. For further information see

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