• Artichoke have announced their 10 artists to be featured in The Gallery’s first exhibition around the theme: Straight White Male launching 19 July
  • The Gallery is a new kind of cultural institution which will challenge traditional models of viewing art. It’s out on the street and in your face, without walls and with plenty of attitude  

10 powerful works will hit billboards and digital screens across the country this July responding to the theme ‘Straight White Male’.  

The works which span photography, illustration and digital prints depict each artist’s individual take on this topical prompt. They will appear across the four nations reaching millions of people over a four-week period: from Bournemouth to Belfast and Margate to Manchester, including Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London.  

Artichoke’s CEO and Creative Director, Helen Marriage, said: 

Launching The Gallery with these three words could not be timelier. Taken together they could be thought to be incendiary, but the different artistic responses offer a much more interesting and nuanced view. 

“Much has been said about masculinity and its toxicity, about who holds the power and whose voices are most heard. These ten very different responses reflect fresh approaches that will prompt debate and conversation. Blasted across outdoor advertising spaces, shopping malls and cinemas, The Gallery will be out and proud, in the streets of our four nations, for everyone to see. We’re setting out to  break down traditional barriers to experiencing great art, connecting it to urgent themes that impact daily lives. 

“Twice a year we’ll seek responses to some of the most critical topics and themes of the day, inspiring, provoking, and starting conversations. I think people will be surprised at both the quality and the variety of art that is produced.”

Works include a piece by Nicola Irvine, ’Anything you can do I can do bleeding’, It’s a bold illustration depicting women bleeding onto a pink background. The provocative title of the piece are the words of a teenage girl, painted on a piece of paper during a workshop that Irvine led for Alliance for Choice. 

London-based graphic artist Nadina Ali’s work is centred on creating empowering messages around social justice and representation. Speaking about her bold piece for The Gallery ‘Hey Straight White Men, Pass The Power’ she said: “I want to challenge the idea that straight white men in positions of power is still an acceptable norm”.

Stevexoh is another artist featured. A self-taught “outsider” his cartoon is titled ‘I don’t want to be a cowboy anymore’ and comments on how patriarchal norms affect men. 

Martin FirrellCreative Director of The Gallery and Lead Artist for its first season said:

We asked artists to respond to the theme Straight White Male in an open call - open, as the name suggests, to everyone regardless of age, experience or location. We wanted to hear from artists who had something to say about the theme, however they identify.

The artists in our first season are diverse, plural, and strong-minded (as all artists worth the name tend to be). Each brings a different view to the table. Often the artworks disagree with each other. They demonstrate how well-expressed and contradictory views can illuminate the heart and soul of an issue.”

The brainchild of arts producers Artichoke with Martin Firrell, The Gallery will challenge traditional models of viewing art with a programme that is bold, ambitious and unafraid. This is a revolutionary new model of public engagement that goes beyond the traditional art gallery, bringing art to everyone’s doorstep.

Founded on a belief that art should be democratic, accessible and engaging, The Gallery aims to reach millions of Brits, showing exciting new work by diverse artists on the streets, in shopping malls and cinemas across our four nations.

Bren O’Callaghan, Curator, The Gallery said:

Our first and subsequent themes are intended as provocations to stimulate discussion. Democracy is something we must participate in, or we lose it. It's critical that we sit and wriggle in a place of discomfort, examining subjects and views that are not identical to our own.

We want to leverage the opportunity to meet somewhere in between; not in battle, but an open forum. Akin to lobbing a football into no-man's land during a pause in hostilities, only it happens to bounce right outside your front door

Launched in partnership with the Out-of-Home advertising industryincluding Clear Channel and JCDecaux, the project aims to make art truly accessible through an outdoor gallery that thrusts thought-provoking pieces into the heart of public conversations. 

Each biannual exhibition season will be produced by Artichoke and sets out to nurture and develop early and mid-career artists, giving them a platform and guidance on producing art in the public realm.

The public will have the opportunity to purchase their favourite artworks with prints available to buy with 60% of all profits going directly to the artists. The exhibitions and artists will be further supported by a nationwide media campaign, a dedicated website and digital archive.




‘Anything you can do, I can do bleeding’ by Nichola Irvine 

ARTWORK CREDIT: Anything you can do, I can do bleeding, Nichola

Irvine. The Gallery, Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke.

‘Anything you can do, I can do bleeding’ were bloody words a teenage girl painted upon a piece of paper for a workshop I did with Alliance for Choice. When I first heard the theme, these words were the first thing that came to mind. My illustration highlights the censorship of people with ovaries and menstruation. Illustrating something that is so normal and human, but in society and media, too taboo to speak about.

“Anything you can do, I can do bleeding. My first thought when I think of the words, cis straight white male.” - Nichola Irvine

Nichola Irvine: Nichola Irvine is a freelance illustrator and 2d animator based in Belfast. Her work is a mix of traditional and digital and her aesthetic focuses on non-conventional canons of beauty; ugly art and colourful, quirky and often textural shapes. She likes to illustrate heavy subjects that are important to her but in a fresh, uplifting way. Her focus is to make art that is accessible to all and make a difference with her work.

‘I Don’t Want To Be A Cowboy Anymore’ by Stevexoh 

ARTWORK CREDIT: I Don’t Want To Be A Cowboy Anymore, Stevexoh. The Gallery, Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke.

If the dressing-up box of straight, white, male archetypes no longer suits our needs, why be miserable, when you can be happy?

"This piece is an invitation to consider what cultural norms we may have unintentionally swallowed whole but no longer wish to conform with.” - Stevexoh

Stevexoh: Steve is a self-taught “outsider” artist known for his distinctive black and white drawings, colourful paintings, 3D wooden cut-outs and unusual conceptual art projects such as the globally viral “(Not a) Lost Cat” project and “Sound of Silence”, the world’s first silent podcast. Steve finds the World a fascinatingly bizarre place and creates art to give his hyperactive imagination an outlet. His work has been described as “art which captures so well how weird and imperfect the world is.”

‘Twins’ by Anna Martynenko
ARTWORK CREDIT: Twins, Anna Martynenko. The Gallery, Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke.

I met Ukrainian twins at a German language school in Berlin. As we come from the same country, it was easy for us to connect. In Ukraine, it's not always welcomed to show gender preferences or sexualities that are not traditional. Germany, and Berlin especially, opens its doors to those who may not feel fully accepted elsewhere, or feel it necessary to hide something about themselves at home.

“The most important thing is remaining true to myself and my values, no matter the circumstances” - Anna Martynenko

Anna Martynenko: Anna Martynenko (b.1994, Ukraine), is an artist and photographer based in Berlin, Germany. She graduated with an MA in Photography from the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Halle, Germany, in 2019, and also studied Audiovisual Techniques at the Maria Curie Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland.

Recent selected exhibitions include Men, Spoiler Galerie, Berlin; Mirrors and Reflections, Millepiani Gallery, Rome; Fashion and Fibre Art, CICA Museum, South Korea. Co-curator of Flashback Displacements at Voodoo55, Berlin, 2018. In 2020 she was shortlisted for the SpaceNet Award and she received a Fellowship with Peace Revolution Artist Retreat in 2016.


‘The Lads’ by Shiro Masuyama
ARTWORK CREDIT: The Lads, Shiro Masuyama. The Gallery,

Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke

The work is made with a local motorcycle group in Belfast as part of my ongoing Identity T-Shirts Project. When I see T-shirts with text in the shops, I always find it hard to find T- shirts that express my identity. In my project, we make T- shirts with text that represents the unique identity of

all participants, before taking a group photograph together.

Apart from the fact the image of the outcome will represent a group of people whose identity is straight, white and male, the texts of the T-Shirts on the final image will also represent the identity of each participant individually.

“As an ethnic minority of Japanese in Northern Ireland, I started wondering how other people think about their own identity.” - Shiro Masuyama

Shiro Masuyama: Shiro Masuyama is originally from Tokyo where he studied architecture to Masters level in Meiji University, Japan. Following international residencies at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin and Flax Art Studios, Belfast, he moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he’s been based ever since. Using his architectural background and Japanese identity, he makes projects which fundamentally connect people and society: so-called socially engaged art. As an artist from Japan who has made their home in Northern Ireland, he’s in a unique position to question how identity can be influenced by the dominant political forces surrounding us.

‘Untitled (Lockdown Drawing)’ by Husk Bennett 

ARTWORK CREDIT: Untitled (Lockdown Drawing), Husk Bennett. The

Gallery, Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke.

The artwork presented for The Gallery is a drawing first completed in 2021, a response to the immediate isolation of the time. I developed the dog motif over this period as the idea of a companion figure, visually reoccurring on state sanctioned walk-arounds. Interrogating the concrete schematics of pet-gendering, man’s best-friend and crazy cat person.

My response to the open call was entirely combative, harking back to the loss and complexity of queerness within Irishness, retelling the stories and beliefs of Lyra McKee, Breandán de Gallaí and living through heteronormative aggression within my own, domicile city.

”A way of engaging and reflecting on the contemporary history of queerness within Ireland.” - Husk Bennett

Husk Bennett: Husk Bennett’s practice explores celebrities, the role of an artist and the deployment of humour within art. Graduating at home in 2020, mid pandemic, led him to explore his ideas in new ways, such as performance, video, music as well as maintaining his painting & drawing practice. He likes to think about the inescapable absurdity of identity, the performativity of merely existing and how he can examine these ideas within his own experiences. He thinks Big Brother should be back on T.V. and probably run year-round, and he really enjoys Cats the movie.

‘Dandi 7’ by Nia de indias

ARTWORK CREDIT: Dandi 7, series, Dandis del Puerto, 2019 / digital adaptation 2022, Nia de indias, The Gallery, Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke

Photographs intervened with acrylic paint, rescued from antique markets. The artist takes these documents to make an eminently authorial production, depersonalizing the subjects of reality, satirizing them, laughing at their "masculinity" and the canon that is has built around it.

NEI (Nos están invadiendo or They are invading us) is a character created by Andrés, a kind of ghost that possesses men or groups of men, and that as we see in the photographs, transforms their faces and their hands.

“They are invading us” - Nia de indias

Nia de indias: Andrés is Colombian and has lived and worked in Santiago, Chile since 2011. They work hand in hand with their drag alter ego Nia de indias since 2015, exploring various spaces in the city with the aim of making my Queer identity visible in public. Through their work, they reflect on aspects related to migration, the subversion of hegemonic canons in the history of art and masculinity through makeup, and all of this without forgetting to have fun while doing it.


‘Hey Straight White Men, Pass The Power!’ by Nadina Ali 

ARTWORK CREDIT: Hey Straight White Men, Pass The Power!, Nadina

Ali. The Gallery, Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke.

My artwork is a direct call to action. When it comes to figures of power, straight white men tend to be seen as the standard to follow. And yet, they hardly represent the diversity of the global population. It’s time to shift that power dynamic and create a more equal world where anyone can access positions of power regardless of sexual orientation, skin colour or gender.

“I want to challenge the idea that straight white men in positions of power is still an acceptable norm.” - Nadina Ali 

Nadina Ali: Originally from Marseille, Nadina Ali is a London based graphic artist with a love for colour and bold typography. Her work is centred on creating empowering messages around social justice and representation. She also aims to amplify the voices of under-represented people and challenge the status quo through her art.


‘What Oppresses Us’ by Martin Firrell 

ARTWORK CREDIT: What Oppresses Us, Martin Firrell. The Gallery,

Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke.

‘What Oppresses Us’ depicts ‘manspreading’, banned on Madrid’s public transport on the grounds that it is antisocial behaviour. But when researchers asked women to rate the attractiveness of men in photographs, those images where the men’s legs were spread apart were rated the most highly.So, manspreading: antisocial or sexy?

French feminist theory of the 1970s suggests that any oppressor, by definition, has the power to shape all of the responses of the oppressed, including what the oppressed come to regard as desirable. The artist seems to be implying, ‘We don’t like it, but we like it, don’t we?’

“I’m not asking you to agree. I’m asking you to think.” – Martin Firrell

Martin Firrell: Martin Firrell is a British public artist whose works challenge unjust power systems of all kinds, including patriarchal power, the oppression of women and non-heterosexuals, and the heteronormative status quo. He uses language to engage directly with the public, provoking dialogue about more equitable social organisation. The artist's reported aim is 'to make the world more humane'.


‘Does It?’ by Georgia Plumb
ARTWORK CREDIT: Does it?, Georgia Plumb. The Gallery, Season 1, 2022. Produced by Artichoke.

The piece contemplates the impact of being given this label, and references the negative connotations linked to the phrase. Once purely factual and descriptive, the expression Straight White Male has become something of an insult due to the raised awareness surrounding issues such as racism, homophobia, and sexism.

In fact, the blame for the existence of these problems is often placed solely on the shoulders of straight, white men. While this blame may not always be misplaced, it is unfair to condemn someone because of their gender, sexuality or race.

“Does It? highlights and challenges the stereotypes surrounding the term ‘Straight White Male’, while also encouraging the viewer to consider their own opinions” - Georgia Plumb

Georgia Plumb: What do you believe in? Like truly, genuinely believe in? Georgia Plumb explores her feminist beliefs through thought-provoking digital text work which aspires to challenge the preconceptions that her viewers may hold. Though her practice may be considered to be politically motivated by some, Plumb herself believes that these topics are actually moral issues, and should be addressed as such. 


‘Like I Think Of You’ by Anya Naumovic
ARTWORK CREDIT: Like I Think Of You, Anya Naumovic. The Gallery, Season 1,

2022. Produced by Artichoke.

This was created using lino printed typeface. The aggression of pressing text upon paper relates to the transmission and release of trauma from the psyche into physical form. The text is hard to discern, and the process leaves imperfections, becoming a metaphor for the scarred mind. The text explores the guilt and fear that arises when thinking about my abuser, questioning whether he does the same. Acknowledging that I may still exist in his mind as he does in mine fuels a vulnerability that has not quite healed.

"My art translates immaterial thought into a physical representation of the guilt and fear I associate with straight white males." - Anya Naumovic

Anya Naumovic: Anya Naumovic is an interdisciplinary artist who works with print-based media, ceramics and text. Her work has evolved to take an introspective look at sexual trauma and the female body. Naumovic's work has become a bank of evidence of her rape and abuse, where previously there was none. Allowing for an exploration into intangible feelings and translating them into a domestic object that is comprehensible, she takes the private experience of abuse into the public domain; wishing to make her work accessible to all women affected by sexual abuse and violence.


Notes to editors

Martin Firrell The Gallery Lead Artist said: 

We asked artists to respond to the theme Straight White Male in an open call - open, as the name suggests, to everyone regardless of age, experience or location. We wanted to hear from artists who had something to say about the theme, however they identify.

The artists in our first season are diverse, plural, and strong-minded (as all artists worth the name tend to be). Each brings different views to the table. Often the artworks disagree with each other. They demonstrate how well-expressed and contradictory views can illuminate the heart and soul of an issue.

“The Gallery has no building. No walls to keep people out. Or to keep the artworks in. The Gallery is able to be everywhere because it is powered by the UK Out-of-Home Industry (the media companies specialising in billboards, and digital screens anywhere outside people’s homes.)”

Artichoke’s CEO and Artistic Director Helen Marriage added: 

I’m really excited about The Gallery. It’s a major new project for Artichoke, dreamed up during lockdown with Martin Firrell, and with the incredible support of our Out -of-Home partners. 

Since the beginning, Artichoke has set out to transform our public spaces, producing art experiences that exist outside the walls of traditional theatres and galleries, experiences that anyone can access. With The Gallery, we are taking that ambition one step further, commissioning visual art on vital themes that will start conversations and be seen by all.

“While art on billboards is not new, it is the nationwide scale and breadth of this project that sets it apart.  We’re setting out to create a new kind of arts institution with no barriers to access and by inviting artists to respond and challenge the way we think, we believe that we can break open doors to bring more sparky conversations into the light.”

Martin Corke, UK CMO and Europe Marketing Lead at Clear Channel said:

“We’re delighted to partner with the team at Artichoke and Martin Firrell to showcase their bold and ambitious outdoor gallery project across our OOH estate. As a Platform for Brands and a Platform for Good, our medium is perfectly placed to bring art to communities all around the UK and engage people from all walks of life in public discourse around topics that matter to all of us.” 

Mark Bucknell, Chief Commercial Officer at JCDecaux UK said: 

We are delighted to be working with Artichoke and Martin Firrell using the power of the public Out-of-Home screen to champion this important and thought-provoking new art project. Out-of-Home plays a unique role in the daily lives of people in cities across the nation, making it the ideal medium to showcase the work of these talented artists to an audience of millions. As a public medium that drives fame and creates attention, Out-of-Home can also help bring communities together, providing a nationwide platform for artists to transform the public space.”

About Artichoke

Founded in 2005, Artichoke is one of the UK’s leading creative companies and a registered charity, and is part of Art Council England’s National Portfolio. The company’s aim is to work with artists to create unique, large-scale experiences that appeal to the widest possible audience and to use art to disrupt the everyday to create a new kind of world that we’d all like to live in. They believe the arts should not take place behind the closed doors of theatres, concert halls or galleries. Instead, they work in the street, public squares, along the coast and in the countryside across the UK, bringing communities together through learning and participation work leaving a legacy of skills and new-found potential behind. Previous projects include The Sultan’s Elephant (London 2006); La Machine (Liverpool 2008), Antony Gormley’s One & Other commission for the Fourth Plinth (London 2009) and Deborah Warner’s Peace Camp commission for the Cultural Olympiad (UK-wide 2012). Recent projects include Sanctuary (Bedworth 2022), Lumiere (Durham 2021), PROCESSIONS (UK-wide 2018) and Sanctuary (Bedworth 2022). | @artichoketrust


* Straight White Male: Artist Brief

The commission brief was as below. The call was open to all practitioners aged 18+, working at any level, including students.

This initiative exists to champion ground-breaking artworks made by emerging or early career artists (first 10 years of practice), with tailored opportunities to giving successful applicants the exposure and resources to support them in their practice. 

Theme initial brief by Artichoke responded to by over 450 applicants

The theme for the first exhibition is Straight White Male. What do these words mean in 2022?  Do you relate in any way with the theme, and if so, what would you like to say about that? Alternatively, does the theme sit uneasily with you and how would you wish to challenge it?

We’re inviting artists to respond to the theme, with the aim of commissioning 10 artists working in varying mediums and from diverse backgrounds with widely differing views about the central theme. 

The intention is to engage the public in a meaningful conversation about art and its role in addressing questions of identity, society and culture. 

About Helen Marriage – Artichoke CEO and Creative Director

Helen’s previous work includes a seven-year period as Director of the Salisbury Festival, described by The Times as ‘miracle of modern British culture’. She created the first Arts & Events programme for Olympia & York, the developers of Canary Wharf in London, and was an Associate Director of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT).  She began her working life at Artsadmin where she managed a variety of independent artists in the early 1980s.

In 2012, she was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Design, a prestigious fellowship awarded to individuals working in the area of urban design and planning. Her appointment was an acknowledgement of the impact Artichoke has made on the way mass public art events are negotiated and staged.  She was awarded an MBE for services to the arts in the New Year’s Honours list in 2016.


About Martin Firrell – Creative Director of The Gallery and Lead Artist for its first season 

Martin Firrell is a British-French public artist whose works challenge unjust power systems of all kinds, including patriarchal power, the oppression of women and non-heterosexuals, and the heteronormative status quo. He uses language to engage directly with the public, provoking dialogue about more equitable social organisation. His aim is 'to make the world more humane'. His work has been summarised as 'art as debate'.

The Gallery is Supported by 

The Gallery is supported by founding partners Clear Channel and JCDecaux, together with Alight Media, Mass Media, KBH Group and Redbus Media. The Gallery is also supported Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Colwinston Charitable Trust, Esmé Mitchell Trust, Idlewild Trust and The Ashley Family Foundation. Artichoke has received funding from DCMS Culture Recovery Fund.


Judging Panel 

The 10 artists in the first season were selected from over 450 applications by a panel including:

  •       Helen Marriage – Founder and Director, Artichoke
  •       Martin Firrell – lead artist and Creative Director, The Gallery
  •       Bren O’Callaghan – Curator, The Gallery
  •       Bakul Patki, – Curator and Producer
  •       Greg Bunbury – Graphic Designer, curator and founder of Black Outdoor Art Project, podcast host of Design for the People
  •       Zafeerah Heesambee – Founder, Paintbrush&Co, Fine Artist, and Production Co-ordinator, Artichoke