Wolverhampton has been selected as the opening city for next year’s prestigious British Art Show 9 – and one of the artists selected to exhibit is already finding his feet as an Artist in Residence at the University of Wolverhampton.

Hayward Gallery Touring, which organises contemporary art exhibitions at galleries, museums and other publicly funded venues throughout Britain, has announced the new dates and full list of artists for British Art Show 9 - the biggest touring exhibition of contemporary art in the UK.

The exhibition will travel to Wolverhampton Art Gallery and the Wolverhampton School of Art (6 March - 30 May 2021), before it heads to Aberdeen (3 July - 3 October 2021), Plymouth (6 November 2021 - 13 March 2022) and Manchester (6 May - 4 September 2022). 

Mark Essen, an Artist, Project Designer and Educator based in Birmingham, will have work on display at the exhibition. He is currently an AA2A Artist in Residence in the School of Art.

The AA2A project is a national set of schemes, providing visual artists and designer makers with the opportunity to undertake a period of research or realise a project, using workshop and supporting facilities in fine art and design departments of Higher and Further Education institutions.

Mark Essen said: “The University of Wolverhampton can trace its roots back to 1835 when it was formerly the Wolverhampton Mechanics' Institute and School of Art and I’m interested in exploring these roots through my residency.

“The British Art Show coming to Wolverhampton is really important for the City and across the West Midlands region. This show comes to Wolverhampton at a time when culture has a potential to lead a trajectory towards social rehabilitation within post-coronavirus life. 

“Working with the University is an opportunity to explore its past and it’s also a chance to address the many changes we need to make for the future and a cultural investment for people in the area.”

Mark studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art and Fine Art at Birmingham City University. His projects include;  Modern Clay - a socially engaged ceramic studio coop based in Digbeth, Birmingham; Utopia Bricks, Social enterprise brickworks;   Hinterlands – Canal and River trust commission program Birmingham Mainline canal in Birmingham and Sandwell, and he is also associate artist with the Growing Project, Grand Union. 

He is a founding member of artist-run space Grand Union in Birmingham and has participated in residency programmes at Wysing Arts Centre, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, The New Gallery Walsall, Doremifasolasido - Florence Arts Centre, UK-Korea exchange co-ordinated by Grizedale Arts & Wysing Arts Centre and Wolverhampton University. He has exhibited work at Jerwood Space London, Workplace Gateshead, Tate St Ives, Hauser & Wirth, Somerset and also the New Contemporaries.

The British Art 9 exhibition is renowned for its high volume of visitors to its touring cities and is widely recognised as a significant marker of recent developments in contemporary art, unrivalled in its scope and national reach.