Call for Artists - Commission for Wilberforce House Museum

Deadline: 30/11/2023  |  City: Hull  |  Region: East Yorkshire  |  Country: United Kingdom  |  Hull Culture and Leisure

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Wilberforce House Museum is looking for artists who identify as Black, or people of colour to apply for a commission to create new work in response to our collections and displays. The commission is delivered in partnership with The Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull and funded by Arts Council England and the University of Hull.

Wilberforce House Museum is Hull’s oldest museum and the birthplace of William Wilberforce, Member of Parliament and campaigner for the abolition of the slave trade in eighteenth century. The museum has displayed slavery collections since 1906 and had significant redisplays in 1983 and 2007. The museum explores the history of slavery and abolition, with a focus on transatlantic slavery between Britain, West Africa and the Caribbean.

Our galleries cover the following:

  • West Africa, its societies, culture and traditions
  • Capture, trade and the middle passage
  • Plantation life
  • The campaign for abolition
  • Legacies of transatlantic slavery

We are currently working to address a lack of Black voice within our narratives and have undertaken project work with local people of colour to improve interpretation, co-produce exhibitions and have recently established the Wilberforce House Advisory Board to support the ongoing development of the museum.  The Advisory Board bring their extensive and varied knowledge, experience and understanding to our work at Wilberforce House Museum, offering new perspectives on the subjects we cover and helping us to adapt our galleries accordingly. They recently developed a new permanent gallery that looks at the legacies of transatlantic slavery and will be part of the shortlisting and selection panel for this commission.

The Commission

We are inviting an artist to create a new work in response to their experience of the museum, our collections and the stories we tell (or don’t tell), and welcome proposals from people with a personal connection to slavery or its legacy. Depending on the nature of the work and media used, there are also opportunities for longer term display within Wilberforce House Museum and across the University of Hull.

We are open to artists working in all artforms including digital, film/video/, audio/sound, painting & drawing, print, performance or sculpture. The successful artist will be required to contribute to public programming, to engage audiences with the work.

We have provided additional information about the collections and displays at Wilberforce House Museum to support your initial expression of interest – please see additional information at the end of this brief.

Application Process

The commission will have a two-stage application process starting with an initial expression of interest. Following this, four shortlisted artists will then be invited to a research visit with travel and expenses paid to enable them to submit a full proposal to put forward for final selection.

Your initial expression of interest should include the following.

What attracted you to this opportunity and why you should be shortlisted.

Has your work explored this subject matter previously? If so where does this commission fit within your development or expand on previous work. If not, how will this commission impact the development of your work?

What aspects of the museum, collections or narratives you would like to explore and research further.

If known at this stage, an outline proposal of what direction the work might take, what might be produced and how.

Your experience of engaging audiences with your work.

A CV with images and examples of previous work.

Research Visit

Four shortlisted artists will be invited for a paid research visit to support the preparation and submission of final proposals. The visit will be an opportunity to experience the museum and explore our collections and displays, meet the curator and representatives from the Wilberforce House Advisory Board as well as visit our partners at the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull.

The location for the display of the new work produced during the commission will be dependent on its characteristics and media used. Potential spaces can be discussed and explored during the research visit and include:

Digital displays within the galleries

Physical artworks within the galleries

Opportunities for outdoor garden spaces

Opportunities for display across university campus locations

We can cover expenses up to £500 for each of the four shortlisted artists for a day visit, travel and accommodation for one night stay in Hull.

Final proposal and Interview

Only shortlisted artists will go on to prepare a full proposal which you will send in advance of an online interview. The proposal will include details of the new work to be created and a linked public programme, developed following further research and the site visit above.

Interviews with shortlisted artists will take place online with representatives from the Wilberforce Institute and Wilberforce House Museum, including the curator and advisory board members.


Up to £500 for four shortlisted artists to attend a research visit and work up a full proposal.

£10,000 fee for one successful artist to develop new work, to cover all activity, expenses, transport, materials and equipment.

Closing date for expressions of interest: 30th November.

Additional Information

Wilberforce House Museum

Wilberforce House museum, its collections, displays and narratives will provide the starting point for the development of new work. You may choose to respond to what you see or experience, or equally you may identify gaps in our narratives or stories that are not told.

You can find further information about our collections here.

Wilberforce House collections – Hull Museums and Galleries

Wilberforce and slavery - Hull Museums Collections (

Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull

The Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull is dedicated to the study of slavery and emancipation past and present. They bring extensive research and academic rigour to the project and will be available to support the successful artist with any research they may wish to undertake to underpin the development of their work.

The Wilberforce Institute aims to advance knowledge of slavery and emancipation, informing policy, business practice and public debate at local, national and international levels. They have undertaken significant research projects on historical and modern slavery and the legacies of colonialism.

Wilberforce Institute home | University of Hull

Research and projects | University of Hull


Contact the curator
Who is eligible for this opportunity?
• The commission is open to artists identifying as Black or people of colour.
• Artists must live and/or work in the UK and be prepared to travel to Hull regularly.
• Artists should be confident engaging with a range of audiences and communities and delivering public facing activity.
When is the deadline?
Initial expressions of interest deadline 30th November 2023
4 shortlisted artists invited to submit full proposal by 26th January
When is the delivery date?
Project Timeline – proposed dates

Open Call 27th October – 30th November 2023
Shortlisting decision Wk beg 4th Dec
Research visit for shortlisted artists Wk beg 11th December TBC
Final submission deadline 26th January
Interviews for shortlisted artists Wk beg 5th Feb
Successful artist decision announced Wk beg 12th Feb
Creation of new work Feb – August 2024
Unveiling of new work August/ Sept 2024 TBC
How much does it cost?
Free to enter
Are there payments to artists?
following initial expressions of interest, 4 shortlisted artists will be paid up to £500 to cover research visit expenses to support working up full proposal.

The selected artist will receive a fee of £10,000
Is there a private view / opening?
The work will be unveiled with a launch/ Private View
What are the exhibition opening hours?
mom - sat 10am - 4.30pm
sun 11am - 4pm
Does the location have disabled access?
What publicity will be provided as part of the opportunity?
The commission will be promoted widely through Hull museums comms channels and there are opportunities for inclusion in city wide arts festivals subject to scheduling.
Do I need to be present?
interviews will be online.
How do you decide on proposals?
We will shortlist with our Advisory Board made up of local community members and people of colour.
What kind of proposals are you looking for?
the commission is open to artists working in any media or artform
What are the selection criteria?
the proposal must respond to the themes, stories and collections at Wilberforce House Museum

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