UCL East


Take part in the Venice Biennale Fellowship Programme

Join the Venice Biennale Fellowship Programme 2023 - 2024. A paid opportunity for a PhD student at UCL to spend a month in Venice during the world’s most important art and architecture biennale.

John Akomfrah at his London Studio. Photo by Jack Hems

The UCL Cultural and Community Engagement team, in collaboration with Invisible Dust, are proud to be partnering with the British Council on the Venice Fellowships scheme. The Programme will grant a PhD student from UCL an opportunity to spend a month in Venice as part of the Art and Architecture Biennales. The appointed Fellow will support the exhibition programme as an ambassador, as well as having time to undertake their own creative or academic development within the city of Venice.

The Fellowship programme is a paid opportunity (intended to cover costs) and will be supplemented with training, mentoring, and the opportunity to grow career skills in cultural awareness, collaboration and project management. 

The two major components of the Fellowship: 

  • Exhibition ambassador: Invigilating the British Pavilion, engaging with the public and being the public face of the British Council and its commission.
  • Research or creative project: undertaking fieldwork in Venice to inform your creative practice, research and/or academic interests. This should be connected to La Biennale and/or British Pavilion exhibition themes. You can find out more about the themes in the Venice Biennal section below and in the application guidelines.

For more detailed information on the components of the Fellowship, as well as key information such as breakdown of funding and timeline please read the application guidance.

To Apply: download the application form, and email your completed form to engagement-east@ucl.ac.uk. Please also complete the British Councils Equality Monitoring form, linked in the application form. If you would prefer to submit your application in audio or video format, please do. If you need the documents below in an alternative format please let us know.

Please note the successful candidate will be expected to attend Induction School Training dates: 28 February, 06 March, 13 March, 20 March, 27 March, 03 April and 10 April 2024 from 6.30 pm 8.15 pm UK time on Zoom.

We recognise that this is a significant commitment in terms of time and energy, and you will need the support of your supervisor to participate in this programme. If you are unclear on any of the information contained in these documents and below, or would like to discuss your particular circumstances, please contact our team by email to have an initial conversation.

Key Information

What is the Venice Biennale?

The Venice Biennale (Italian La Biennale di Venezia) is an international cultural exhibition hosted annually in Venice, Italy by the Biennale Foundation.
The Biennale has been organised every year since 1895 which makes it the oldest of its kind.
The official Biennale exhibition is spread across two venues in the east of the city: the Arsenale and the Giardini. The Giardini, an area of parkland, houses the Central exhibition Pavilion and 29 national pavilions Each of them, including the British Pavilion, presents its own showcase from a particular country or region.

For more information visit the Biennale website.

Theme and title of the Venice Biennale 2024

Stranieri Ovunque - Foreigners Everywhere: The title of the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, is drawn from a series of works started in 2004 by the Paris-born and Palermo-based collective Claire Fontaine. The works consist of neon sculptures in different colours that render in a growing number of languages the words “Foreigners Everywhere”. The phrase comes, in turn, from the name of a Turin collective who fought racism and xenophobia in Italy in the early 2000s 'Stranieri Ovunque'.

For more information on the theme's of this year's exhibition visit the Biennale website. 

The British Pavilion 

The British Council have commissioned the artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah RA to represent Great Britain at the 60th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia. The London based artist initially came to prominence in the early 1980 s as part of the Black Audio Film Collective ( a group of seven artists founded in 1982 The BAFC's first film was Handsworth Songs 1986 which explored the events around the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London In recent years, his multichannel video works have evolved into ambitious,multi screen installations shown in galleries and museums worldwide In 2017 he won the Artes Mundi prize, the UK’s biggest award for international art He has previously participated in La Biennale di Venezia with his piece Four Nocturnes, commissioned for the inaugural Ghana Pavilion in 2019.

Find out more.

How can I find out more?

The British Council team will host two online Q&A sessions for interested candidates. The content will be the same in both sessions. The Sessions will cover:

  1. Overview of the 2023 Fellowship Programme Application Guidelines
  2. Hearing experiences from two 2023 Fellows
  3. support guidance for completing our 2024 application form.

Q+A Sessions

  • Wednesday 4 October 2023: 6.00 - 7.00pm BST. Zoom Link.
  • Thurday 19 October 2023: 6.00 - 7.00pm BST. Zoom Link.
Key requirements
  • We are looking for a PhD student currently studying at UCL.
  • Candidates must be over 18 years old and based in the UK.
  • We welcome creative individuals from all backgrounds, areas of knowledge and/or academic departments, but are looking for someone who is interested in working to the themes of the current exhibition.
  • Candidates must commit to and attend in full all of the Induction School Training dates 28 February, 06 March, 13 March, 20 March, 27 March, 03 April and 10 April 2024 from 6 30 pm 8 15 pm UK time on Zoom
  • As the role will include acting as an abassador at the exhibition, candidates must demonstrate experience of or interest in working with people from diverse settings and be willing to talk to and engage with them. (this experience could be in presenting, or public speaking)
  • Candidates will share our programme values and ways of working, including collaboration, generosity, kindness, camaraderie, and flexibility. We are seeking people who are people-concerned, team-oriented and active listeners and demonstrate a commitment to promoting equality, and fostering positive relations between people from different groups.
  • Candidates must develop/explore creative project/research that has a social value and social impact to contribute to fairer and inclusive societies and world.
  • Candidates should already have an idea of a potential project or research proposal connected to the programme values and ways of working described above as well as with 2024 La Biennale/British Pavilion theme, including racial injustice, colonial legacies, diasporic identities, migration, and climate change, to be developed while in Venice and back to the UK.

The travel grant is £3,000 with £2,000 contributed by UCL and an additional £1,000 met by the British Council. This funding is intended to cover travel, accomodation and a per diem cost for food whilst at the Biennale. UCL will work with the appointed candidate to ensure that the financial costs associated with the exhibition are not prohibitive to them being involved, and to ensure it does not impact their status as a PhD student. Please email engagement-east@ucl.ac.uk. 

Timing and Logistics

The Community and Cultural Engagement Team will support the appointed fellow to manage and arrange the logistics and requirements for their trip including finding and booking their accommodation, flight or train tickets, travel and medical insurances, visa (if required), and further requirements that emerge, as well as developing their project/research.

Applicants should indicate three separate months in which they are available/prefer to travel and they must be available to travel to Venice in the groups and time windows indicated. 60 selected Fellows are allocated into 8 traveling groups from April to November 2024 and with a total of 7-8 Fellows per group.

The successful candidate will be expected to attend Induction School Training dates: 28 February, 06 March, 13 March, 20 March, 27 March, 03 April and 10 April 2024 from 6.30 pm 8.15 pm UK time on Zoom.

    What is the timeline for the project?

    A detailed timeline can be found in the application guidance document but key milestones include:

    • 8 November 2023: Deadline for Applications.
    • 30 November 2023. Candidates shortlisted and sent to British Council for consideration.
    • January 2024. British Council review the shortlisted candidated and appoint and announce the successful Fellow.
    • February - April. 2024. 'Induction School' online training for Fellows.
    • March - July. Depending on timing of travel, grants for travel and accomodation will be awared (please not this may happen more quickly neccessary)
    • 20 April - 24 November 2024. The Venice Biennale 2024.
    Mentoring and Pastoral Support

    Invisible Dust and UCL will work closely with you to identify your research interests, explore your ideas, and offer pastoral and development support as well as being a main point of contact for the British Council throughout your fellowship experience.

    Invisible Dust have 14 years of experience working with artists and scientists in creating inspiring artworks. As part of this fellowship opportunity, you will be offered mentoring support from our founder and Artistic Director, Alice Sharp, alongside a pool of expert curators, producers and a highly experienced operations team

    Who are Invisible Dust?

    ‘Invisible Dust’ was set up in 2009 by Artistic Director Alice Sharp and works with leading artists and scientists ‘making the invisible visible’. We produce ambitious contemporary artworks exploring our environment and climate change. We work with artists and academics to foster new thinking, understanding that enabling our audiences to be open and inventive will be vital to creating a new future for our planet.

    In these times of high uncertainty, we stress the importance of creating thought-provoking contemporary art in helping people understand what environmental issues mean for them and our world.Previously Invisible Dust has worked with:

    Artists including Ryan Gander, Jeremy Deller, Wangechi Mutu, Elizabeth Price, John Akomfrah, Fei Jun, authors Margaret Atwood and Ben Okri;

    Scientists including Kate Jones and Mark Maslin, University College London; Rebecca Lazarou, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew; Prof Frank Kelly, Imperial College London and Miranda Lowe, Natural History Museum.

    Organisations including Oulu Finland EU Capital of Culture 2026, Art Encounters Timisoara Romania EU Capital of Culture 2023, University College London, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the United Nations Environment Programme.

    In 2022, ‘Breathe for Ella’ by Dryden Goodwin, commemorating Rosamund Adoo Kissi Debrah’s daughter’s death from air pollution, was projected on London's South Bank. In May 2023 we produced ‘Forecast’ exploring future climate stories at London’s City Hall with authors Ben Okri and Amy Jeffs, artists Raqs Media Collective, Samson Kambalu and Gavin Turk, scientists and international partners. Invisible Dust also curated ‘Sea Change’ in May 2023 at the Royal Docks, producing four public art commissions through collaborations between UCL academics and artists Raqs Media Collective, Dana Olarescu, Simon Faithfull and Melanie Manchot.

    Invisible Dust is currently curating ‘Wild Eye’ in Scarborough with artists such as Ryan Gander and ‘Climate Clock’ for Oulu European City of Culture 2026.

    Invisible Dust are delighted to be collaborating with UCL on this British Council Fellowship, offering a unique mentoring partnership.

    Find out more about John Akomfrah.

    Guardian article about John Akomfrah's selction as the British Pavilion lead artist.

    Venice Biennale 2024 website.