The Falmouth Convention

  • The Falmouth Convention
    The Falmouth Convention, May 2010

The Falmouth Convention was a three-day conference in unconventional form, with an emphasis on exchange of views and experiences. Conceived as an international meeting of artists, curators and writers to explore the significance of time and place in relation to contemporary art and exhibition making, it was planned to respond to the situation in Cornwall and other such dispersed, rural areas.

The Falmouth Convention opened with a keynote by the distinguished American writer and curator, Lucy R. Lippard. It then set out to examine its own locale, with field trips led by artists, curators and local experts, looking at particular geographies, histories and narratives in Cornwall. Expeditions included a tour of the telecommunications landscapes of the Lizard, digging down into the traumatised landscapes of the Gwennap mining district and storytelling among ancient settlements on the very western tip of Cornwall.

The Convention culminated in a conference on Saturday 22 May and Sunday 23 May, with presentations by international curators and artists including Tacita Dean, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Kitty Scott and Bassam el Baroni. Participants discussed commissions, residencies and the impact and influence of large-scale international exhibitions, sparking reflections and responses that went on to inform the development of The Cornwall Workshop and The Penzance Convention.

The Falmouth Convention was developed as a collaboration between University College Falmouth (now Falmouth University), ProjectBase and Tate St Ives, in response to a series of forums and conversations held in 2009 with artists, curators and writers based in Cornwall to consider a bid to host the international exhibition Manifesta in Cornwall in 2014. The Convention was initiated and convened by the independent curator Teresa Gleadowe and supported by Arts Council England South West, with additional support and help-in-kind from a range of international agencies, and from organisations in Cornwall.

Explore the whole Convention programme and archive at