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Michael Forbes, Self Portrait, photography, African Mask

Self Portrait 2015

About Michael Forbes

Michael Forbes lives and works in Nottingham and London.

Forbes practice explores contemporary racial politics, migration, blackness and whiteness in relation to debates on history and religion. He works with sculpture, installations, photography and digital media. The above areas of interests are incorporated in all his work, to different levels of focus for each body of work.

Forbes future exhibition programme includes:

2023 Want the World to Know, Saatchi Gallery 

2025 Untitled, Yorkshire Sculpture Park


Michael Forbes has exhibited nationally and internationally with exhibitions including; 2022, BLK this and BLK that... a state of urgency, at Djanogly Gallery. 2021 Space lapse, Royal Sculpture Society. 2021 The World as a Work in Progress Attenborough Arts Society,  2020  London Grads Now, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2020  Tomorrow: London, White Cube Gallery, London, Reformation at Yinka Shonibare’s Guest Projects, the Diaspora Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017 and CPT: Time, History and Memory, Gallatin Galleries, New York. Alongside his artistic practice, Forbes has curated many exhibitions and supports artists’ professional development.

He is undertaking a residency at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and he was awarded an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, having graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a BA (Hons) in Photography.


Forbes is a co-founder of Primary and Chair of the board of trustees / directors, which is an artist studio complex in Nottingham, where he holds a studio.

In 2018 Primary joined the Arts Council England National Portfolio and 2020 with support from Arts Council England, Nottingham City Council Primary purchased the freehold of the building.


Since founding Primary with colleagues in 2003 Forbes has committed a significant amount of time and effort to support its continued growth. Working with the executive team and board of directors / trustees.

Forbes has contributed to the development to the organisation, including.

  • Employing 6 members of staff, staff reviews, job descriptions and pastoral care.

  • Developing the board of trustees and directors, to include, trusted members of the legal profession, accountant, building surveyor, Dean of Art & Design at NTU, academic staff from Leicester University, ex Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Arts at the University of Lincoln, curators, cultural leaders and artists from the region.

  • Supporting staff to develop a range of income streams, thereby increasing turnover over the last four years.

  • Business and financial planning, accounts and cashflow.

  • Visioning the ambitious future direction of the organisation.

  • Overseeing applications to charitable status and Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation status.

  • Purchasing the freehold of the site, thereby ensuring long term security for artists within the city and the organisation.

  • Capital Development plans for the expanded use of the site, thereby increased studio provision in the city over the next 3 – 5 years.

  • Supporting staff in their ambitions for programming, artist development, community engagement and digital strategy.

  • Advocate for equality & diversity both within Primary and all other organisation he associates with including the Royal College Art.

Primary is an artist-led space that exists to support creative research and to develop new ways of engaging audiences. Offering dedicated artists studios alongside more flexible spaces, both within and outside the building, where artists from around the world can meet and work in the heart of Nottingham. Primary is a place where artists and the public can share, experiment and learn about contemporary visual art through an ambitious programme of events and activities.

Forbes played a leading role in developing the New Art Exchange, Nottingham, and its early programme.

New Art Exchange (NAE) is a contemporary arts space in Nottingham that celebrates the region's cultural richness and diversity. It is the largest gallery in the UK dedicated to culturally diverse contemporary visual arts. The venue presents an ever-changing programme of art exhibitions, creative activities for families and young people, film screenings, symposiums, lectures, festivals and a live performance programme of music, dance and theatre.

Michael Forbes, Debra Swan, Primary

Primary PS1 - work Debra Swan 2016

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New Art Exchnage, Michael Forbes

New Art Exchnage 2008

Contact Michael Forbes 


Tel: +44 (0)7941350002

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