North Sea Artist Residencies
North Sea Artist Residencies

Sustainability First and National Grid have been hosting art residencies based by the UK’s North Sea, a world-leading centre for sustainable energy using the power of the wind, waves and tides. Resident artists have been exploring the changing role for coastal communities and opportunities provided by renewable energy in the North Sea – building on the heritage of these communities, engaging them in the art-making process and helping share their visions for a sustainable future.

We launched the North Sea artist in residence scheme in the summer of 2022, and selected three artists out of 135 candidates: Joanne Coates, Isabella Martin and Alison Cooke. Each artist has been focussed on a different aspect of the North Sea for their residency.

Joanne Coates

Joanne Coates

Artist Joanne Coates focuses on rural life, class inequality and social justice. "I'm examining the environment in villages and hamlets just beyond Hull. The work will increase awareness of the coastal erosion and landslides happening in peripheral areas. This body of work has multiple elements; community groups from towns and villages along the coast have contributed to the work. These photographs, made up of a series of film photographs at specific points, are my contribution to the series".

Isabella Martin

Isabella Martin

Isabella Martin is an artist from Norfolk who explores the friction between us and our environment and the ways we both shape and are shaped by our surroundings. For the residency she chose to work in Wells-next-the-Sea and focussed on the shifting rhythms of the town, the flux in different industries from fishing to wind generation, whelks to malt. “I’ve seen the town change dramatically during my lifetime, and I was excited to explore these changes in collaboration with local communities.” 

Alison Cooke

Alison Cooke

Alison Cooke is a ceramic artist who works with clay that has been dug from interventions such as mining, engineering or scientific research. "I have an ongoing interest in the North Sea, its rise and fall, the eroding coastline, and our ancestors who lived on what is now the sea bed and how they (and we) respond to the challenge of rising sea levels". I have been able to see these [wind turbine] structures in the North Sea spinning away, harnessing energy. I wanted to use locally dug clay for my own response and a project involving residents. 

More information

Sustainability First is a charity and think tank that seeks to promote practical solutions to improve environmental, social and economic wellbeing. Through the North Sea artist residencies, artists will engage with coastal communities to understand how climate change and the shift to renewable energy impacts them, and the changes they have already witnessed as well as the opportunities they see. Sustainability First and our resident artists are keen to collaborate with communities and organisations along the East Coast, including finding publicly accessible spaces to host workshops and share artworks.

The project sponsor, National Grid is at the heart of a national project to replace our fossil-fuel oriented energy system with a new clean energy system powered by renewables and other low carbon options. This will entail switching from petrol to electric vehicles, and gas to low carbon heating through electricity and hydrogen. Our aim for this art residency is to inspire communities with the opportunities that cleaner energy presents. The shift to net zero will bring huge changes to jobs, businesses and infrastructure. Through art, we can speak both to the rich heritage of the surrounding communities and the tremendous opportunity which the future holds.

If you are interested in the project and would like to link up, please get in touch at:

To find out more

Terms & Conditions

Download T&Cs

  1. Eligibility
    1. The two artist residency opportunities are open to UK based artists, over the age of 18 years on 19 April 2022.

    2. Artists can work in any media – including but not limited to painting, drawing, mixed media, sculpture, photography, installation, textiles, sound/oral history and digital. 

    3. It is possible to apply for the artist residency as a collective, but the fee and stipend are fixed, so would need to be shared between artists.

    4. All resident artists are required to prove that they have the right to live and work in the United Kingdom for the duration of the residency.

    5. Members of the judging panel, National Grid staff members (as sponsors of the programme), Sustainability First team and staff members, Associates, Trustees, Patrons or close family members thereof will not be eligible to enter the Competition.

  1. Artist Residency Opportunity
    1. Artist residencies focus on the role and opportunities for coastal communities provided by sustainable energy in the North Sea.

    2. Artist residencies will run for 2 months between August -November 2022. A time schedule will be agreed with the artists.

    3. A fixed fee of £4000 (gross of all taxes and charges) is offered to each artist or artist collective (to be shared between artists) to cover their time developing artworks, participating in an exhibition and giving an artist talk. 50% will be paid at the start of the artist residency and 50% after the final exhibition.

    4. A stipend of £1000 is provided to each artist or artist collective (to be shared between artists) to cover materials and travel, which will be paid at the start of the artist residency.

    5. The locations of the artist residencies will be agreed with the artist, based on their home location, ideally with a focus on the North Sea coastline.

    6. The artist will be provided by National Grid with a studio or space to work in a location suitable to their project, on the North Sea Coast or near the North Sea coast. This will be agreed between the successful applicant, Sustainability First and National Grid.

    7. Accommodation is not provided. Artists will be required to make and be liable for their own accommodation arrangements.

    8. There will be an online exhibition of artworks made during the residencies, and Covid-19 permitting, a physical exhibition in autumn 2022 or at a suitable date and location agreed by all parties.

    9. Artists will benefit from creative exchange with staff from Sustainability First and National Grid, as well as site visits (covid and security/logistical restrictions permitting).

  1. Application Process
    1. In order to apply, please complete the online application form and follow directions therein.

    2. Applications will open on 19 April 2022. They only be accepted digitally and must be submitted by 23:00 on 8 June 2022.

    3. You will receive an email acknowledging receipt of your application. We will post information on our website about the timetable for the artist residencies but as a small charity we will be unable to personally respond or engage in correspondence with applicants.

    4. If you have a learning or physical disability and require any support in regards to your entry, please send us an, we will do our best to accommodate your needs within our limited resources.

  2. Selection Process
    1. Applicants will be shortlisted based on their proposal (relevance to the theme, creativity, originality and deliverability in the timeframe), and demonstration of their artistic practice through their artist statement, biography and portfolio of artworks.

    2. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an online interview on 15 June 2022. We will endeavour to notify successful and unsuccessful applicants on or shortly after 24 June 2022. We will not be able to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

  1. Display of Artworks
    1. Sustainability First will display artworks made during the residency digitally as an online exhibition and on social media. 

    2. Sustainability First will curate a physical exhibition of artworks, Covid-19 dependent, at a location to be agreed with the artist and National Grid.

    3. Resident artists will be responsible for developing the artworks, paying for materials and framing – so that they are ready for exhibition - transporting them to the exhibition and supporting with hanging the works

    4. Works selected for exhibition may be offered for sale. Resident artists will need to provide their details with their works so that potential clients can contact them directly. Neither Sustainability First nor National Grid will take commission on sales or be able to engage in any form of sales activity.

    5. Artists are required to ensure that their works comply with all health and safety standards and regulations.

    6. At the end of the exhibition, artists be responsible for taking down, packing and collecting their works. They will also be responsible for delivering sold works to buyers.

  1. Photography and Copyright
    1. Ownership and copyright of all works made during the artist residency remains the property of the artist; any enquiries for copyright will be referred to the artist. 

    2. Each artist confirms that they hold all the intellectual property rights in the works and have obtained prior written approval for the use of any third-party material.

    3. Sustainability First and National Grid will use digital images/videos of the artworks made during the artist residencies in on going communications. This could include, but is not limited to, on their websites, in social media, in printed materials and to promote the exhibition. Such permission for the use of photographs shall be without charge and in perpetuity. 

    4. Artists will credit Sustainability First and National Grid on collateral and outreach materials related to the artwork, including websites and printed materials.

  1. Liability
    1. Sustainability First and National Grid will not be liable for any additional or emergency expenses.

    2. Sustainability First and National Grid will not be liable for any claim by third parties for example for death, personal injury or fraud as a result of the artist’s work or their breach of any third party rights.

    3. Resident artists will comply with all laws applicable to activities at Sustainability First and National Grid sites including, without limitation, laws relating to fire safety, occupational safety, and event permitting.

    4. Resident artists will be responsible for the security of personal property at the residency sites, including materials and equipment, without limitation. Sustainability First and National Grid will not be liable for any claims arising from theft, loss, or damage of your property brought to the site.

    5. Resident artists will be responsible for any damage or loss to the site, furnishings, or other property, systems or services resulting from their actions. Sustainability First may deduct amounts from or hold back our financial support payments until costs for damage has been reimbursed by the resident artist.

    6. Resident artists will defend, indemnify and hold Sustainability First, National Grid and its affiliates and their directors and employees, harmless against all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses, including, without limitation, attorneys’ fees, which arise directly or indirectly from: (a) a claim by any third party arising from your or your collaborator’s participation in the programme; (b) your performance under or breach of this agreement, (c) any failure by you to comply with applicable law; or (d) any claims by third parties involving the artworks, including any claims of infringement, misappropriation, or otherwise regarding the Artwork.

    7. Resident artists are required to take out Public and Products Liability (PPL) insurance and Professional Indemnity (for example as provided through membership of a-n the artist’s network).

    8. Resident artists will be responsible for insuring their artworks in transit to and from, and during a physical exhibition.

  1. Data Protection and Privacy
    1. Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679, you give consent to the holding, processing and editing of your personal data for all purposes relating to your artist residency including but not limited to legal, personnel, administrative and/or management purposes. You will comply with data protection protocols as set out by Sustainability First and National Grid.
    2. Sustainability First and National Grid will keep the personal data of applicants for a period of two years, in accordance with their retention policies.
    3. The data will only be used by Sustainability First, National Grid, and the interview panel, for the process of administering the artist residencies and will not be transferred to any third party not directly involved in this programme.
    4. Please view Sustainability First’s privacy policy. Please view National Grid's privacy policy. If you have any questions on data protection and privacy, or on your personal data held by Sustainability First and National Grid, contact Sustainability First on and contact National Grid on
  2. Agreement to the Terms & Conditions
    1. By applying for the North Sea artist residency you are agreeing to all of the conditions set out within these Terms and Conditions and you further accept that the Terms and Conditions may be altered, amended or modified at any time up to and including the final determination of the competition.

    2. Sustainability First’s decision on all matters pertaining to the above is final and we reserve the right, at any time, and from time to time to amend, modify, vary, or discontinue the terms and conditions for our artist residencies. 

    3. Sustainability First excludes liability for all loss, damage or claim arising as a result of the participant's application for the artist residencies. No works of art should be sent to the registered office. Sustainability First and National Grid will not accept any responsibility for any works sent by post or delivered to its offices.

  1. Artist agreement and termination
    1. Resident artists will sign an agreement with Sustainability First setting out the terms of the residency.

    2. Nothing in the artist agreement will constitute a contract of employment between the artist and either Sustainability First or National Grid.

    3. Sustainability First may terminate the resident artist’s participation in the programme if they have: (a) violated any site use, conduct, community engagement, or other obligation under the artist agreement; (b) not given appropriate time and effort in developing and readying the work for performance; (c) engaged in conduct that is inconsistent with our maintenance of a trusting and supportive community; (d) engaged in illegal or other conduct at the site that may create liability for or reflect adversely on the reputation of Sustainability First or National Grid; or (e) made materially misleading statements to us including statements about the nature and originality of their artworks.

    4. Such a termination will be effective upon delivery by Sustainability First to the artist of a written notice to that effect.

    5. Sustainability First reserves the right to unilaterally terminate the artist residency agreement in the event of breaches which would be considered gross misconduct or may affect the reputation, security, safety of Sustainability First or National Grid.

    6. Upon termination of the agreement, the resident artist’s participation in the programme will come to an end. Sustainability First will have no obligation to pay the resident artist any remaining stipends or other amounts, or to provide site access or other support.


  1. Confidentiality
    1.  It is possible that, in the course of bilateral discussions (and information supplied) conducted through this project the resident artist may have access to information that could be confidential to Sustainability First and/or National Grid. Sustainability First and/or National Grid will let the artist know if the content of discussions is likely to be confidential. The resident artist should also check at the end of discussion sessions if any information is confidential and if so how it should be handled. Check written factual information that may contain any information of a commercial or confidential nature, with the relevant party, before any such information is published or shared with anyone outside Sustainability First or National Grid.

Sustainability First details: 
Sustainability First is a registered charity who registered office is at: 85 Great Portland Street, First Floor, London, W1W 7LT.

Registered Company number 03897720

Registered Charity number 1078994.

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