Paula Orrell is Director, CVAN England and Lead, CVAN South West. She spent the early part of her career invested in Plymouth’s cultural development in 2006. She was the curator of Plymouth Arts Centre and Artistic Director of the River Tamar Project. Paula worked with and commissioned artists such as Marina Abramović, John Akomfrah, Melanie Manchot and produced citywide exhibitions, including the Hayward touring exhibition British Art Show 7 in 2011 with curators Lisa Le Feurve and Tom Morton. Shifting the dynamic of cultural investment in Plymouth, Paula’s ten years led to working in New Zealand as the Director of Contemporary Art Christchurch Toi Moroki – transforming a gallery space from a conservative artist society to a bilingual public art gallery as part of the social transformation of the city post-earthquake. Highlights included touring exhibitions of David Shrigley and commissioning the first significant exhibition in fourteen years of Paemanu–Ngai Tahu Contemporary Visual Arts.
Paula is incredibly passionate about socially engaged practice, having worked alongside the artist Lucy Orta as a young curator and developed the transformational programme Take a Part in Plymouth with Efford and Plymouth City Council’s community. Paula believes in the equity of fair investment in artists alongside developing a city and region’s cultural infrastructure. She volunteers for Creative Youth Network in Bristol, is the Chair of Coventry Biennial and sits on the Inc Arts, Arts Against Racism Steering Committee.
She studied for an MA in Creative Curating at Goldsmiths College alongside Anna Harding, and a BA in Sculpture at Sheffield Hallam, Psalter Lane.