Hippo Campus: Where We Learn to open at The Exchange, Penzance

3 February 2020

As part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme, The Exchange in Penzance present Hippo Campusan exhibition exploring how we learn, where we learn, and who we learn from.

In recent years there has been increasing concern about the downgrading of arts subjects in primary, secondary and higher education. With the rise in fees, closure of courses and loss of studio space across UK art colleges, artists and their peers are increasingly initiating alternative models of education for themselves. 

James Green, Gallery Director explains: “Our ambition is to the use the programme and the extraordinary access it provides to one of the country’s most important collections, to interrogate a range of urgent and pressing issues. For some years, we have been concerned about the shift away from creative subjects in the schools’ curriculum.” 

Featuring more than 20 artists, Hippo Campus includes photographic images of schools and colleges around the world as traditional places of learning, such as Birmingham students by Vanley Burke and top-hatted pupils at Eton by Tony Ray-Jones. Devices for learning, memory aids, and the fallibility of memory are illustrated by works by Emma Kay and Mariele Neudecker. Mind maps and learning through popular culture are presented in works by Jeremy Deller and Andy HoldenThe exhibition takes its title from Bedwyr William’s piece of the same name; Hippocampus being the part of the brain that enables memory and learning.

Other artists presented from the Collection include Pavel Buchler, Tarik Chawdry, Joan Hassall, Nick Martin, Bob & Roberta Smith and Libuse Taylor. Hippo Campus will also include work by other UK artists.


Hippo Campus allows us to explore pedagogy through the eyes of artists and reflect on learning as a life-long pursuit. The exhibition has been conceived as a space where visitors can delight in the act of learning for its own sake, as well as providing a platform for critical debate”, said James.

Throughout the exhibition there will be small forum areas, with books, tablets and pin boards, which expand on themes within the show, and invite contributions from visitors. The launch of Hippo Campus will be the start of a conversation with, and between, visitors to share their own knowledge and skills. A programme of talks, workshops, social groups and alternative curriculums for all ages will run throughout the exhibition.

“We’d like to bring people together, with regular social events such as Lunchbreak School and Bad Art Class, to try out new things, and learn subjects they possibly didn’t think they even wanted to know,” said Blair Todd, Programme Curator.

Jill Constantine, Director, Arts Council Collection has said “An exhibition exploring how artists themselves learn and interact is an exciting proposition. It will engage people from all different groups of our society and encourage them to explore their own learning paths enabling a stimulating  experience alongside some time for reflection and possibly change. These are exactly the kinds of conversations we hope the National Partners Programme ignites."

Hippo Campus shows at The Exchange, Penzance from 14 February - 6 June 2020.

The Arts Council Collection : Hippo Campus: Where We Learn to open at The Exchange, Penzance

The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.