Curating the East Midlands: Sally Plowman

Sally Plowman is an artist and curator from Lincolnshire, currently studying BA Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art. She describes herself as trying to have fun, always loitering and plotting and scheming and working collectively to create spaces and conversation. She also makes performances, drawings and comics about clowns, infatuation, adolescence, chemistry between people, not understanding, clichés and the bit before a story.

A free meal served at Night at the Chapel #1, the first in a series of four events occurring in a converted chapel in Wellingore, Lincolnshire. Part of A Year of Nostalgia, a year-long exhibition in the Broadcaster noticeboards

How did you come to curating?

For me, I don’t see much of a distinction between curating and making art. Over the last few years studying at art school, I realised what I love most about being an artist is creating spaces for people, and the conversations and outcomes that come from working together. The energy of being part of something bigger is more intense and making something that other people exist within is so much more immediate. So, my focus became more and more based around collaborative spaces.

What are you working on behind the scene at the moment?

I’m not linked to a specific venue, and most of the projects I am part of are temporary and transient, existing in public spaces for a limited time only. To hatch these plots, I am an avid fan of meetings in cafes and corridors, while walking down the street or inside a Google doc, so this is what ‘behind the scenes’ mainly consists of.

Gathering to read the work of Bea Macdonald under a village street light. Part of Night at the Chapel #1
Who are you working with at the moment?

Over the past year, I have worked with the Postmethodists to curate A Year of Nostalgia, a year-long exhibition and events program in rural Lincolnshire. This has involved hosting seasonal exhibitions in the Broadcaster noticeboards in Waddington and Wellingore, featuring Anna Metzger, Nia Fekri and Bea Macdonald, Lulu Alyahya and myself. Each artist also hosted a ‘Night at the Chapel’ event during their season in the converted chapel in Wellingore and surrounding countryside, where one of the noticeboards is located.

I also co-run Reading Room, a portable small-press reference library on wheels, with Leonie Rousham, Bea Macdonald and Ishwari Bhalerao. We have a donated collection of zines, comics, essays, poetry, photobooks and fiction, and set ourselves up in temporary spaces. We aim to provide a nomadic space for meeting, learning, and the exploration of the library, asking questions about accessibility, circulation and the development of the library in an austerity-stricken future.

The way I make art/spaces is by constant conversation with the people around me. Collaborative drawings, lunch breaks making music, dreaming about alter-egos and scheming for the future. Bea Macdonald, Leonie Rousham, Nia Fekri and Lulu Alyahya are the people I most frequently and constantly work with.

The Broadcaster noticeboard in Waddington, Lincolnshire, with ‘Loner Wolf’ by Lulu Alyahya

Tell us about your current exhibition or upcoming exhibition or project.

Reading Room is planning an official launch in London in June! Keep an eye on our Instagram or website for more details.

During summer, I will also be performing as Stucky the clown at Supernormal in Oxfordshire, and will be in a festival on 15th June held in a bandstand in London organised by Nia Fekri. I’ll be posting more about these closer to the time on my Instagram!

My work is also still in the Broadcaster noticeboards in Waddington and Wellingore (Lincolnshire) until mid-June, so if you’re in the area go and have a look at that.

Reading Room, a portable reference library and bookcase on wheels with a focus on small press, at Fast-Forward Feminism festival, London. Nomadic and collectively run by Leonie Rousham, Bea Macdonald, Ishwari Bhalerao and Sally Plowman

How do you select the artists you work with?

I spend a lot of time with people who really care about the art we put into the world; how and where it can exist, and how to do it with some sense of magic. It’s so important to find people you have chemistry with, to build a shared understanding of the world. These connections are sometimes immediate and sometimes take time to emerge but paying attention to how you relate to others is so important for beginning projects.

Shaky Dome performing at Night at the Chapel #4

What dates should we put in our calendars?

I will be performing on 15th June in a bandstand and at Supernormal on 2nd – 4th August. Reading Room will also be officially launched mid-June, so watch out! Also, catch the Slade undergraduate degree show from 18th – 23rd May, where the year above me will be showing some amazing work, and the graduate show from 6th – 16th June.

‘Pierrot’s Date’, a performance by Sally Plowman at the De La Warr Pavilion car park, Bexhill-on-Sea

What or who are you really excited about?

I am excited to spend 3 weeks at the end of June with Lulu Alyahya… We have a long-term collaborative project in the works that has had to be put on hold, but we have lots of ideas on what to do next and we’re ready to be back at it again!

Whose work or what space would you most like to curate?

I’m usually drawn to putting things on outside, or in unconventional art spaces, but I daydream about what I would do in a typical huge white gallery. I think it would be a challenge to insert some noise and movement and chaos, because our expectations for galleries like that are pretty rigid. It would be really great to work with musicians (or non-musicians…) to make music or do something with the energy of a live gig…

The Broadcaster noticeboard in Wellingore, Lincolnshire, with ‘soft roses’ by Sally Plowman

What do we need to see more of in the East Midlands?

In Lincoln, where I grew up, it seems like independent art venues are just beginning to pop up… So more of this! Engagement and support and being physically present in a space is also so important – so going to galleries and events as well as sharing them online. It’s the only way to believe you can exist as an artist outside London!!

Follow Sally on Instagram


Sally was interviewed in May 2019.

All images are by and courtesy of the interviewee.