StudioBook Artist Commission

Mark Devereux Projects and University of Salford are proud to announce artist Darren Nixon has been awarded the inaugural StudioBook commission 2015/16 for his proposed work The Awkward Ambassador.

The Awkward Ambassador will respond to the notion of how a work of art assumes a restless existence as it finds itself in a public art collection and required to take on different personas. The Intern, The Mixer and finally The Awkward Ambassador will each portray the work’s shifting relationship with its surroundings, whether in the University’s art stores, within the campus or when sent out on loan to represent its owner.

“I am thrilled to have been selected for the StudioBook commission and looking forward to working with Mark Devereux Projects and Lindsay Taylor of University of Salford. This project gives me the chance to develop new skills and ways of working that will help me take my practice to the next level. I am looking forward to showing the work for the first time alongside the other StudioBook artists at ArtWork Atelier in March, which will be a fitting end to a wonderful five-month programme.” [Darren Nixon]

As part of Mark Devereux Projects’ new StudioBook artist development programme, the award has been provided, co-selected and acquired by University of Salford Art Collection. This new award showcases the two organisations’ collective ambitions to nurture some of the best emerging talent in the UK.

“The selection process was rigorous with many of the artists submitting strong ideas. Darren Nixon was awarded the commission for his thoughtful and ambitious proposal that directly considers how an artwork exists within the context of an Art Collection. Although not part of the selection process, I am delighted that we are supporting an artist already based in Manchester and one that is clearly at an important stage of his career.  I am looking forward to working with Darren and with Mark Devereux Projects to realise this artwork, and to exhibit the work in its various manifestations.” [Lindsay Taylor, Arts Curator, University of Salford]

The commission is part of Mark Devereux Projects’ inaugural StudioBook artist development programme funded by Arts Council England. Eleven artists from throughout the UK were selected to take part in the five-month programme, which started in November 2015 with an intensive 6-day course of talks, seminars, workshops and advice sessions led by over twenty speakers from around the country. Each of the eleven artists was then invited to propose new work for consideration for the commission.

“StudioBook encapsulates our commitment to nurturing, promoting and providing different opportunities to artists that are at important transitionary points within their careers. We are proud to be working with this talented group of artists of which we’re sure they’ll go on to do great things. Darren Nixon is the prime example of an artist who is striding forward with his practice and we’re sure this commission will provide an important stepping stone for his future.” [Mark Devereux, Director, Mark Devereux Projects]

The Awkward Ambassador will be showcased to the public for the first time on Friday 4 March (6-8pm) at ArtWork Atelier, Salford. The first incarnation of the work will be shown alongside existing works by each of the eleven StudioBook artists in an exhibition signalling the end of the five-month programme. Each of the artists will give public talks about their practices and inspiration the following day on Saturday 5 March (11am-4pm).

StudioBook is an Arts Council England funded project and has been produced and developed by Mark Devereux Projects. The StudioBook commission has been funded and acquired by University of Salford Art Collection.

Further information


Darren Nixon’s recent work has involved making shifting sets of structures from various groups of paintings and painted elements. Looking at what painting is and what it lacks, he often likes to focus on the places painting fails to reach as successfully as other media. The use of movement in dance; architecture’s incorporation of its surroundings; cinema’s exploration of real time; music’s manipulation of sound in space – Darren uses each new piece as a chance to consider themes and concepts which other media have come to dominate as a way questioning what painting still has to offer today. For further information visit: darrennixon.wordpress.com

Further information about the launch of The Awkward Ambassador and the StudioBook exhibition will be announced shortly.

Supported by


Arts Council England
University of Salford

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